Arthur Riggs (geneticist)

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Dr. Arthur Riggs (born c. 1939) Ph.D, is a geneticist who worked with Genentech to express the first artificial gene in bacteria. His work was critical to the modern biotechnology industry because it enabled the large-scale manufacturing of protein drugs, including insulin. In 2006, Riggs was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He is the director emeritus of the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope National Medical Center, where he was also the founding dean of City of Hope's graduate school. Riggs also serves on the board of trustees at the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences.


Riggs earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry at University of California, Riverside in 1961, and was honored as a distinguished alumnus in 1988 [1]. He conducted his doctoral thesis work at the California Institute of Technology with Herschel K. Mitchell [2]. As graduate students at Caltech, he and Joel A. Huberman collaborated on work that later led to a classic paper on mammalian DNA replication, which was published in 1966 [3]. His postdoctoral work at the Salk Institute resulted in another well-known series of papers on the lac repressor and bacterial gene regulation.


Along with fellow City of Hope researcher Keiichi Itakura, Riggs collaborated with Genentech scientist Herbert Boyer, and used recombinant DNA technology to become the first to produce a human protein in E. coli. Following the advice of Riggs and Itakura, the group successfully produced the hormone Somatostatin in 1977 as a proof of concept before they attempted to work with the more complicated insulin molecule. [4] The group succeeded in producing insulin in 1978, and in 1979, Riggs received the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Research Award for this work.