Floyd E. Romesberg, Ph.D.

Floyd E. Romesberg, Ph.D., is currently a Sanofi scholar at Synthorx, a Sanofi company, where his group works to use the expanded genetic alphabet/code to create novel therapeutics. Romesberg co-founded three biotech companies, Achaogen, RQx Pharmaceutics, and Synthorx.

He has also served as member of Institute for Defense Analysis Defense Science Study Group and has been elected into the National Academy of Inventors. Previously, Romesberg led a research laboratory at Scripps Research that applied organic chemistry, synthetic biology, and biophysics to study different aspects of evolution. Central projects included the evolution of DNA polymerases with novel activities and their use to discover aptamers comprised of modified nucleotides. Of particular significance is his work to expand the genetic alphabet and code through the development of a third DNA base pair that relies on hydrophobic and packing forces as opposed to hydrogen bonding for selective pairing. Romesberg’s research group worked to design, characterize, and optimize unnatural base pair candidates for just over a decade to create a fully functional in vitro six-letter genetic alphabet in 2012. Two years after this success, the Romesberg group reported the first semi-synthetic organism that stably harbors and propagates increased information in its DNA, and in 2017, they further demonstrated that the semi-synthetic organism could retrieve the increased information to synthesize proteins containing non-canonical amino acids.

At Scripps, Romesberg has authored nearly 150 peer-reviewed primary research articles, an additional 33 review articles, and over a dozen patents. He has presented his work at over 220 seminars worldwide, including numerous universities, biotech companies, professional society meetings, and cultural symposia. Romesberg is the recipient the Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award, the ACS San Diego Section Distinguished Scientist Award, and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Bioorganic Chemistry Award, as well as funding awards from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Romesberg received a B.S. and M.S in chemistry from The Ohio State University where he studied organic chemistry with Matthew Platz. He completed his dissertation studies in physical organic chemistry under the direction of David Collum and received a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1994. Following an NIH postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley, he was appointed a tenure-track position in the Chemistry Department at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California in 1998, where he remained until 2019.