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Christian Raetz, Former Biochemistry Chair, Dies

Christian Raetz, Former Biochemistry Chair, Dies

Professor was nationally known expert in the study of lipid biosynthesis

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Durham, NC - Christian Raetz, a long-time Duke faculty member and former chair of biochemistry, died Aug. 16. 

"Chris was an international leader in the areas of lipid biosynthesis and membrane biogenesis," said Dr. Nancy Andrews, dean of the School of Medicine, in a message to the school faculty.  "He devised the first high throughput screen for phospholipid biosynthetic mutants that provided the basis for genetic analysis of phospholipid biosynthesis in E. coli and mammalian cells.

"Although he had stepped down as biochemistry chair, he remained very active as a professor with three NIH grants. He was also an enthusiastic teacher and a devoted mentor to the students and post docs in his research group. Many now direct laboratories of their own. He was well known for dropping in on his colleagues to chat about their science and his own. I am sure those delightful conversations will be missed."

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Yale University in 1967, Raetz completed a medical/doctoral program at Harvard Medical School in 1973. He became a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health until 1976 when he joined the biochemistry department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined Merck Research Laboratories in 1987 as executive director of basic research, biochemistry and microbiology.

Raetz, who served as biochemistry chair at Duke from 1993 to 2007, received many awards in recognition of his contributions to science, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

He is survived by his wife, Madeline, daughters Jackie and Lizzie, a son-in-law and his grandson, Leo. The family is having a private gathering at their home in lieu of services. Instead of flowers, remembrance contributions can be made to the Duke University Biochemistry Department for the Christian Raetz Educational Fund, c/o Esther Self, Box 3711, Research Drive, Durham, NC 27710.

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