Christian Raetz, Former Biochemistry Chair, Dies

Professor was nationally known expert in the study of lipid biosynthesis

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

"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.