Christian Rudolf Hubert Raetz, M.D., Ph.D. 1946 - 2011

Aug. 16, 2011 -- It is with deep regret that we report the passing today of ASBMB member Chris Raetz, the George Barth Geller professor of biochemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. 

Born in East Berlin in 1946, Raetz immigrated to the United States with his parents. He attended Yale University for undergraduate training in chemistry and Harvard Medical School for his M.D. and Ph.D. He did his thesis work under the direction of Eugene P. Kennedy and his postdoctoral work under Herbert Tabor at the National Institutes of Health. 

After a successful faculty tenure at the University of Wisconsin, he joined Merck Research Laboratories first as executive director of biochemistry and later as executive vice president of research in biochemistry and microbiology. In 1993, Raetz became a professor and the chair of biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center.

Raetz is most recognized for his elucidation of the biochemistry, genetics and structural biology relating to the pathway for lipid A synthesis in gram-negative bacteria.  An excellent summary of his important contributions to the lipid field can be found in a recent Journal of Biological Chemistry Classic article ( 

Raetz received many awards and honors, including the 1979 Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, ASBMB’s 2002 Avanti Award in Lipids, the 2006 L. L. M. van Deenen Medal from the University of Utrecht, the 2006 Frederik B. Bang Award from the International Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society and election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. 

He was an extraordinary scientist, mentor of young scientists and friend to many. His passing at such a young age is a tremendous loss to the lipid community. Raetz is survived by his wife, Madeline, daughters, Jackie and Lizzie, and grandson, Leopold.