Portrait Photograph of Richard R. Burgess

Richard Burgess

Professor Emeritus of Oncology

School of Medicine and Public Health l Department of Oncology

Hometown: Seattle WA

Richard prefers virtual talks.
Dr. Richard R. Burgess is James D. Watson Emeritus Prof. of Oncology at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at UW–Madison. He founded the UW Biotechnology Center in 1984 and was its Director until 1996. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry at Caltech in 1964 and his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with James D. Watson at Harvard in 1969. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Geneva, Switzerland from 1969–71 and joined the faculty of the Dept. of Oncology at the UW–Madison in 1971. He was the recipient of the 1982 Pfizer Award and the 1999 Waksman Medal and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2003), the AAAS in 2008, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters in 2020. He plays an active role in translating basic university research into a growing Wisconsin biotechnology business community and in educating the public about biotechnology and proteins.


  • While most bacteria are harmless/beneficial, some are serious pathogens. Over the last century, naturally-occurring antibiotics like penicillin have proved powerful ways of treating pathogenic infections. But bacteria can eventually develop resistance to most antibiotics. The rise of multi drug-resistant microbes has caused a serious health-care crisis requiring the development of new, powerful antibiotic treatments.
  • The UW-Madison and the UW Biotechnology Center have played a major role in the growth of the Wisconsin biotechnology industry, from 3 companies in 1985 to over 200 today. How was the research strength of the UW parlayed into such a robust growth? This talk will describe the process and continued progress.
  • I will describe my personal journey from being a basic scientist, to contributing to technology transfer through training and consulting, to being a facilitator and cheerleader of business start-ups, to being an entrepreneur and starting a Madison company to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • What is Biotechnology and How Might it Affect you?
  • The Role of the University in Technology Transfer in Biotechnology
  • How We Parlayed a Great Research University into 150 Local Biotechnology Companies
  • Scientific and Artist Creativity — Are They Related?
  • Protein Biochemistry — How We Purify and Study Proteins
  • Immunoaffinity Chromatography — How We Use Monoclonal Antibodies to Gently Purify Proteins and Protein Complexes
  • The Discovery of The First Positive Transcription Factor, Sigma Factor
  • Rapid (1-second) Purification of Proteins to Study Weak Protein-Protein Interactions Using Magnetic Beads