Speakers

25th Annual CBB Conference
"Microbial Factories and Biocatalytic Science"

October 17-18, 2016
University of Iowa 
Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, IA

David F. Wiemer, Ph.D.

F. Wendell Miller Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Pharmacology
Department of Chemistry
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
University of Iowa

David F. Wiemer was born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin. He received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Marquette University, earned the Ph.D. degree at the University of Illinois, and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University. He joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa as an assistant professor, and now holds the rank of F. Wendell Miller Professor of Chemistry. His research interests include synthetic methodology based on organophosphorus chemistry, synthesis of phosphonate analogues of isoprenoid phosphates as potential enzyme inhibitors, and synthesis of biologically active natural products, especially potential anti-cancer agents.

Robert Kerns, Ph.D.

John L. & Carol E. Lach Chair in Drug Delivery Technology 
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Experimental Therapeutics
College of Pharmacy
University of Iowa

Robert Kerns is the John L. & Carol E. Lach Chair in Drug Delivery Technology at the University of Iowa, College of Pharmacy, where he is also Chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics Department. Professor Kerns received his BS degree in Chemistry from Iowa State University in 1991. After earning his Ph.D. in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1996 he completed postdoctoral studies in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University, where he was a National Research Service Award recipient. Dr. Kerns joined the faculty at Wayne State University as Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1998, where he also held an associate appointment with the Department of Immunology and Microbiology in the Wayne State University School of Medicine. In 2002 Dr. Kerns joined the faculty in the Division of Medicinal & Natural Products Chemistry at the University of Iowa. His research group is involved in numerous interdisciplinary, translational research projects focused on the design, synthesis and evaluation of novel bioactive small molecule therapeutics. Ongoing projects include optimizing lead structures as chemical probes to validate new drug targets and as lead compounds for further development as possible new therapeutics for the treatment of drug-resistant infectious diseases, inflammatory lung diseases, obesity-related diseases and cancer.

Robert J. Linhardt, Ph.D.

Ann and John H. Broadbent, Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering
Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Biology, Chemical and Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Robert J. Linhardt received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University (1979), was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT with Professor Langer (1979-1982) and on the faculty of the University of Iowa from 1982-2003. He is currently the Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, holding appointments in Chemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering & Biomedical Engineering.  He is an Adjunct Professor of Orthopaedics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacy at Albany College of Pharmacy.  His honors include the American Chemical Society (ACS) Isbell, ACS Hudson & ACS Wolfrom Awards, the Volwiler Award, an USP Award, is a Fellow of the AAAS, is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), and one of the Scientific American Top 10.  His research in glycoscience has resulted in over 750 peer-reviewed manuscripts and over 50 patents.

John W. Frost, Ph.D.

University Distinguish Professor
Department of Chemistry
Michigan State University

John W. Frost is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan State University. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Purdue University and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
Professor Frost's research group genetically engineers microbes for use as synthetic catalysts and interfaces these biocatalysts with traditional chemical catalysis. Recent research focuses on elaboration of microbe-catalyzed syntheses of starting materials critical to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals as a replacement for the current isolation of these starting materials from exotic natural sources. Hoffmann La Roche has licensed a microbe developed by the Frost group for synthesis of shikimic acid, the starting material used for manufacture of the antiinfluenza drug sold under the trade name Tamiflu.
The Frost group is internationally recognized for its research in the field of green chemistry, where group research is directed toward creation of sustainable, environmentally benign syntheses of a variety of chemicals. These syntheses are catalyzed by genetically engineered microbes and utilize nontoxic starting materials such as glucose derived from renewable feedstocks such as starch or cellulose. In contrast, current chemical manufacture is dominated by the use of toxic starting materials such as benzene, which is derived from petroleum, a nonrenewable feedstock. For their research efforts in this area, Professor Frost and his collaborator and wife, Dr. Karen M. Draths, were awarded the Presidential Green Challenge Award in 1998.
Professor Frost has served in various capacities including consultant and scientific advisory board member for numerous corporations.  He and Dr. Karen M. Draths cofounded Draths Corporation in 2005.  Draths Corporation was a Michigan-based company spearheading the commercialization of the Frost technology portfolio developed at Michigan State University.  Draths Corporation was purchased by Amyris Inc. in 2011.  Professor Frost served as Chief Science Officer of Draths Corporation from 2005-2010 and has since returned to Michigan State University to again pursue his academic interests as a University Distinguished Professor.

John P. N. Rosazza, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry
Director Emeritus, Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
The University of Iowa
(1994-2005)

Jack Rosazza earned the PhD in Pharmacognosy/Synthetic Organic Chemistry at UConn, was a postdoc at Wisconsin in Pharmaceutical Biochemistry and moved to Iowa in 1969. He achieved full professorship in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry (MNPC) in 1977. Jack served as head of MNPC for 18 years. He is co-founder and the first director of the UI, Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. Jack’s research always had a natural products bent focusing on all aspects of the chemistry, biochemistry, and enzymology of biocatalytic transformations of natural and synthetic organic compounds. His lab discovered a host of biocatalytic reactions, new enzymes, new organisms, and applications, and the first bacterial nitric oxide synthase system. He served as mentor for 30 Phds, 10 MSc students and 32 postdocs. Jack and his research group published more than 220 publications and patents during a 38-year career.  He was widely sought as a consultant for Pharma, chem and agrochem industries, and the NCI; served on eight editorial boards, was active in ACS, ASP (President, Fellow), SIM; and served widely on collegiate, university, state and national committees.

Mani V Subramanian, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Director Emeritus, Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
The University of Iowa
(2005-2015)

Mani Subramanian earned PhD in Biochemistry (1978) at The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.  He was a post-doctoral fellow with Professor David Gibson at The University of Texas, Austin (1978-81).  Subsequently, he joined The Dow Chemical Company as a Senior Research Chemist and progressed to Project Leader and Research Leader (1981-1991).  At Dow, he was involved in Applications of Enzymes for Production of Chemicals, Discovery of Chemical Leads and Target Site/Mechanism of Action of Agricultural Chemicals including from Natural Products.  In the process, he set up micro titer plate-based High Throughput Screening at whole plant and enzyme levels for chemical lead discovery.  In 1991, he moved to Sandoz Agro Chemicals in Palo Alto CA, where he continued the lead discovery process for Agricultural Applications, HTP screening, and also took the responsibility for Engineering Herbicide Resistance in Crops, particularly Maize and Soybeans.  In 1998, Mani moved to Maxygen where he found new applications for Gene Shuffling in the areas of ‘Value-Added Traits’ in Crops.  In 1999, Mani rejoined The Dow Chemical Company as the Global R&D Director for Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Bioprocessing and built the Biotechnology R&D Center of 70 scientists.  State of the Art Fermentation Technology and Process Laboratories were built in San Diego from ground-up.  He also initiated a gemome-based approach for Protein Production in Pseudomonas fluorescens.  This was commercialized and Trade Marked as Pfenex, which 2009 was spun-off as stand-alone company.  Mani took early retirement from Dow in 2005 and joined U of Iowa as Director, The Center for Biocatalysis & Bioprocessing (CBB) & Professor, Chemical & Biochemical Engineering.  Here expanded and modernized the CBB fermentation and downstream processing operations, and built the GMP-facility for production of proteins for human trials.  Mani retired from CBB in June 2015.  Mani has won several Awards from Dow and Sandoz for Innovation and commercialization of technology.  He has also licensed technology developed in his laboratory at the University of Iowa to two different companies.  He started a ‘metabolic engineering-based’ company from the technology developed in his laboratory in 2013 and sold the company in 2016.  Mani continues to do research as Professor Emeritus, in the areas of protein expression and production of chemicals by Synthetic Biology.  He has over 100 publications and 20 US and International Patents.

Mark Arnold, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
University of Iowa
Professor and Edwin B. Green Chair in Laser Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
University of Iowa
(2015- present)

Mark Arnold is the Director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing as well as the Edwin B. Green Chair Professor in Laser Chemistry at the University of Iowa. He started as an assistant professor in Chemistry at the University in 1982 after completing his doctorate degree at the University of Delaware. His research program focuses on the development of in situ chemical sensing technology that is designed to report concentrations of selected chemicals within a system of interest. He is an expert in the use of near infrared absorption spectroscopy for in situ analytical measurements in complex biological systems. Examples include noninvasive glucose measurements in people with diabetes and real-time monitoring of hemodialysis during treatments of people with end-stage renal failure. In the spirit of translational research and economic development, Professor Arnold has teamed with others to create ASL Analytical, Inc. for the purpose of commercializing this near infrared sensing technology. ASL’s first commercial product is an on-line monitor designed to follow glycerol, methanol, and biomass in real-time as a means to optimize the upstream production of biotherapeutics in Pichia pastoris.

Joe Hrdlicka

Executive Director, Iowa Biotechnology Association
Des Moines, IA

As the Executive Director of the Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio) Joe Hrdlicka oversees the industry association and works on behalf of more than 100 members engaged in biotechnology endeavors in Iowa. The Association’s mission is to grow Iowa’s presence in biotechnology, and position the state as a leader in biotechnology in the global economy.
Joe brings nearly 20 years of public affairs, management and marketing experience to the Association. A St. Louis native, Joe attended the University of Missouri, School of Journalism and worked in various political campaigns before coming to Iowa in 1992 to work for Representative Jim Lightfoot.  After his work with Lightfoot, Joe joined the marketing firm Strategic America as Director of Public Relations.  Following his tenure at Strategic America, he served 13 years with the Iowa Lottery.  First, he was Public Relations Manager, then was promoted to Vice President of Marketing where he served as a member of the Lottery’s senior management team.  During his tenure at the Iowa Lottery, Hrdlicka managed a team of eight marketing professionals overseeing advertising, promotions, product development and major procurements.
Most recently, Joe served as Vice President of Public Affairs for the Iowa Communications Alliance, an industry organization of telecommunications providers serving Iowa’s rural communities.  He says working in the association world has been extremely engaging and he feels privileged to have the opportunity to head up such a vibrant industry organization.  “I really enjoy working with members and moving an association to bring value and resources to their businesses,” says Joe.
Joe is the President-elect of the Rotary Club of Des Moines and he was recently appointed to the West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission.

Maria Spies, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry
Carver College of Medicine
University of Iowa

Dr. Maria Spies is a graduate of St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia (1996 MS diploma with excellence (cum laude) in physics/biophysics). After obtaining her PhD in biological sciences at Osaka University, Japan (2000) she was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Steve Kowalczykowski (UC Davis). She started her independent career as an Assistant professor of Biochemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Currently, Dr. Spies is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
Spies’ laboratory focuses on deciphering the intricate choreography of the molecular machines orchestrating the central steps in homology-directed DNA repair. Her goal is to understand, reconstitute and manipulate an elaborate network of the cellular DNA damage and repair response. The Spies’ lab utilizes a broad spectrum of techniques from biochemical reconstitutions of the key biochemical reactions in DNA recombination, repair and replication, to structural and single-molecule analyses of the proteins and enzymes coordinating these reactions, to combined HTS/CADD campaigns targeting human DNA repair proteins.
Work in Spies Lab has been funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and is currently supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She received several notable awards including HHMI Early Career Scientist Award and Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award in Biophysics.  She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and as an academic editor of the journal Plos-ONE. She is a permanent member and a vice chair of the American Cancer Society “DNA mechanisms in cancer” panel.

Eric Nuxoll, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
College of Engineering
University of Iowa

Eric Nuxoll is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering at the University of Iowa.  He earned bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the University of Idaho, followed by a Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, where he was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.  After working in the University of Minnesota Pharmaceutics program as an NIH Kirschstein/NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow, he joined the University of Iowa in 2008.  His research is in the areas of medical implant infection control and controlled drug delivery.

Ronen Tchelet Ph.D.

VP Research & Business Development
Dyadic International Inc.

Ronen Tchelet joined Dyadic in May 2013 and has been Dyadic’s Vice President of Research and Business Development since January 2016. Dr. Tchelet received his Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology from Tel Aviv University in 1993 and did his postdoctoral as EERO fellow at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG) in Switzerland.
In the late 2000’s, he joined the API Division of TEVA Pharmaceutical Industries LTD., where he served as a Chief Technology Officer of Biotechnology. Dr. Tchelet leaded and directed the Research and Development Biotechnology department of TEVA’s fermentation plant in Hungary. In his work he managed and organized Biotechnology and Biosimilar projects that combined multidisciplinary areas such as development, operation, and production of API and biologics. In addition, from 2000 – 2005, Dr. Tchelet was the QA manager of COPAXONE® the flag ship TEVA¹s innovative drug.
From 2007 through 2013, prior to joining Dyadic, Dr. Tchelet became the founder and the Managing Director of Codexis Laboratories Hungary kft. (CLH) and a Vice President of Codexis Inc. At CLH, he established a state-of-the-art laboratory for strain engineering and all aspects of fermentation work including process optimization and scaling up. It was during this time that Dr. Tchelet engaged with the C1 technology that was successfully developed for the Biofuel and the Bio-Industrial enzymes fields.

Laura R. Jarboe, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Chair, Interdepartmental Microbiology Graduate Program
Iowa State University

Dr. Laura Jarboe received a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2000 and completed her PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2006. Following a two-year term as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida, she joined Iowa State University’s Chemical and Biological Engineering department in 2008. She is currently chair of ISU’s Interdepartmental Microbiology Graduate program and co-leader of the Metabolic Engineering Thrust of the National Science Foundation Center for Biorenewable Chemicals Engineering Research Center (CBiRC). She 2015, she received the “Leadership in Outreach and Mentoring” award from the Iowa NSF EPSCoR program and the Iowa Energy Center impact award in Bioenergy.

Benjamin Foust

David F. Wiemer Research Group
Department of Chemistry
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
University of Iowa

Benjamin is originally from the small town of Bellevue, Iowa. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Iowa in 2014 and decided to remain at Iowa in the research lab of Dr. David Wiemer for his Ph.D. work. The research group does synthetic organic chemistry focusing on the design and formation of biologically active organophosphorus compounds. More recent efforts have been toward the synthesis of phosphonate containing enzyme inhibitors for their potential use as anti-cancer agents. After obtaining his Ph.D., Benjamin intends to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Mark S. Miller

Adrian H. Elcock Research Group
Department of Biochemistry
Carver College of Medicine
University of Iowa

Mark grew up in Kalona, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics from Goshen College in Indiana. He then went on to pursue a Masters of Science in Neurochemistry from Stockholm University in Sweden. He completed the research portion of this degree as a visiting graduate student at the University of Iowa under the guidance of Dr. Madeline Shea, probing the thermodynamics of the protein Calmodulin binding to voltage-gated sodium channels. From there, he enrolled in the Biochemistry doctoral training program at the University of Iowa, where he eventually joined the Elcock research group. His current research is entirely computational, and focuses on validating protein force fields used in molecular dynamics simulations of biomolecules.

Nicholas R. Vance

M. Ashley Spies Research Group
Department of Pharmaceutics & Experimental Therapeutics
College of Pharmacy
University of Iowa

Nick hails from the suburbs of West Des Moines, Iowa. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics from Central College (Pella, IA). Shortly after graduation, he traveled to Iowa City in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Iowa. After exploring different research groups, Nick landed in the laboratory of M. Ashley Spies. Since joining the Spies lab, Nick has been involved in drug discovery efforts directed towards the development of allosteric caspase inhibitors that could be used to treat neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases by prolonging apoptosis. Post-graduation, Nick intends to pursue a post-doctoral research position abroad so he can finally escape Iowa.

Erica N.B. Ricker

Eric Nuxoll Research Group
Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
College of Engineering
University of Iowa

Erica, originally from Boulder, Colorado, obtained Bachelor of Science degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering from Montana State University in 2012. She is pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, where she works in the Nuxoll research group studying biofilm mitigation techniques to ultimately improve the quality of life for patients with infected implants. After completing her Ph.D., Erica intends to continue work in medically related research.