Biotechnology at 25: Perspectives on History, Science,
Saturday, March 13, 1999
William Rutter, Ph.D.
Co-founder of Chiron Corp. and Professor of
Biochemistry, Emeritus, University of California, San
William J. Rutter is a founder of Chiron Corporation, an Emeryville,
California-based biotechnology company and is also Herzstein Professor
of Biochemistry Emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Rutter received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D.
from the University of Illinois. He was a professor in the Department
of Chemistry at the University of Illinois, and later professor
of Biochemistry in the Departments of Biochemistry and Genetics
at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. From
1969-1982, Dr. Rutter was chairman of the Department of Biochemistry
and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF),
during the period in which the department played a key role in
developing recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering.
From 1983 through 1991, he was the Director of the Hormone Research
Institute and Herzstein Professor of Biochemistry at UCSF. Dr.
Rutter's primary area of research is the molecular mechanisms of
gene expression especially in biological development and the development
of vaccines that can be used for the prevention and treatment of
human infectious diseases. Dr. Rutter has published more than 350
scientific articles and holds more than 20 patents. His lab made
several early contributions in biotechnology, including the first
cloning of the insulin gene and the development of a vaccine for
hepatitis B virus, the first vaccine based on recombinant DNA method.
In 1981, he founded Chiron Corporation together with two other
University of California professors (former members of his lab).
Rutter has been Chairman of Chiron from its inception until he
retired in May of 1999. In addition to his chairmanship of Chiron,
Dr. Rutter is a member of the Novartis AG (formerly Ciba-Geigy
Ltd.) Board of Directors. Dr. Rutter is a member of the Harvard
Board of Overseers and the Carnegie Institute of Washington Board
of Trustees. He was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree
from the University of Illinois and Eštvšs Lor‡nd University, Budapest.
Dr. Rutter has received several awards for his scientific work,
and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He
currently serves on the council of the National Academy of Science
and the U.S. National Research Council.
Dr. Rutter's research interests are:
- Control of gene expression and cell development/function/via
transcription, peptide hormone receptors
- Structure/function analyses of protein/enzymes
- Biotechnology: control of viral diseases via vaccination
- Hepatitis viruses