Ray L. Rodriguez

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Ray L. Rodriguez
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Born (1947-05-31) May 31, 1947 (age 74)
Fresno, California
CitizenshipUnited states of america
  • BS degree in biology
  • PhD
Alma mater
  • Fresno City College
  • California State University, Fresno
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Educator
  • Researcher

Ray L. Rodriguez[1] was born on May 31,1947 in Fresno California. He was raised in San Joaquin and Kerman, California. In 1965, Rodriguez graduated from Kerman Union High School.

Education and Career

After graduating from Fresno City College, Rodriguez received his BS degree in biology from California State University, Fresno in 1969. In 1970, he entered the PhD program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After receiving his PhD in 1974, Rodriguez received an A.P. Gianni postdoctoral fellowship to work in the Department of Microbiology at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. [1]

In 1977, Rodriguez was an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of California, Davis. There, he developed cloning vectors called promoter-probe vectors.[2][3] to better understand prokaryotic transcriptional regulation. As a visiting scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1990, he helped map and characterize the human APOE4 gene on chromosome 19. In 1997, Rodriguez created the International Rice Genome Organization[4]. Between 1990 to 1993, this ad hoc organization worked with genomics and agriculture experts to develop a sequencing strategy. The first draft of the rice genome was released on April 5, 2002[5].

In early January 2003, Rodriguez was awarded a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to create a Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics[6]. The Center was a collaborative effort with the faculty and staff of the Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute[7]. Rodriguez served as director of the Center until 2009.

In 2010, Rodriguez formed an outreach and knowledge dissemination program called the Global HealthShare Initiative (GHS) to address the health needs of the world’s underserved and underprivileged populations through sharing knowledge, technology, and resources. As GHS’s executive director[8], Rodriguez has organized and funded international projects[9] in India[10], Bangladesh[11], and Rwanda[12].

Research Discoveries and Accomplishments

As a UC Santa Cruz graduate student, Rodriguez produced visual autoradiographic evidence for bidirectional replication[13] of the E. coli chromosome. The resulting publication[14], provided evidence of bidirectional DNA replication thus eliminating the opposing hypothesis of unidirectional DNA replication.

In 1974, Rodriguez obtained an A.P. Giannini postdoctoral fellowship and NIH postdoctoral fellowship in the Herbert Boyer laboratory at UC San Francisco Medical Center[15]. At UCSF, Rodriguez collaborated with another postdoctoral fellow, Francisco Bolivar Zapata (Paco), from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. To address the need for more efficient and better characterize vectors, Rodriguez and Bolivar codeveloped the 4,361 base pair, circular, autonomously replicating, DNA molecule, pBR322, the first general purpose molecular cloning vector approved[16] by the National Institute of Health Guidelines[17] (NIH Guidelines). The abbreviation, “pBR322,” refers to the plasmid “p,” constructed by Bolivar and Rodriguez “BR,” and the last of “322” transformed colonies to be screened for the pBR322[18] plasmid. The 1977 publication describing the construction of pBR322[19][20] has been cited nearly 6000 times[21] according to Google Scholar. Soon after its approval by the NIH, pBR322 was used to clone and express the first chemically synthesized gene for the human peptide hormone, somatostatin[22]. The following year, pBR322 was used to clone and express rat proinsulin[23]. Today, the main components of pBR322 can be found in many other plasmid vectors, particularly the pUC plasmids designed and constructed by the late professor Joachim Messing.

As assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Genetics, Rodriguez published two edited volumes entitled “Promoters: Structure and Function” 1982 with M.J. Chamberlin[24] and “Vectors: A Survey of Molecular Cloning Vectors,” 1987 with D.T. Denhardt[25]. During this period, Rodriguez developed the first molecular cloning lab course in the nation for undergraduates and graduate students. The course was accompanied by a laboratory manual entitled “Recombinant DNA Techniques: An Introduction”[26] co-authored with Dr. Robert C. Tait[27]

In addition to his research and development of plasmid vectors, Rodriguez also developed a research program to understand the physiological systems of rice (Oryza sativa) at the molecular level. Rodriguez dedicated his laboratory to investigating the molecular biology of rice gene systems related to seed germination. This program explained the function, sequence, and organization of the rice alpha-amylase multigene family[28][29]. One of the outcomes of this research was the use of alpha-amylase gene promoters to express human proteins in rice cells[30] in culture media[31]. These findings led to patents were then used for Ventria Bioscience[32] (formally Applied Phytologics Inc.), a biotechnology company founded by Rodriguez in 1993.

From 1992 to 1994, Rodriguez served as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at UC Davis. As associate dean, he created a program called Professors for the Future[33] that provided professional development, leadership training, and mentoring to high-performing and high-potential graduate students.

As Executive Director of the Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics, Rodriguez coordinated the research activities of over 50 research faculty, physicians, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. During his time as Center director, Center researchers published over 250 research publications and two volumes on diet-gene interactions and their relationship to human health and disease. These included, Nutrigenomics: Discovering the Path to Personalized Nutrition[34] with Dr. Jim Kaput and Nutritional Genomics: Impact of Dietary Regulation of Gene Function on Human Disease[35] with professor Wayne Bidlack[36]. In addition to his duties as Center director, Rodriguez maintained a research program to investigate the role of dietary factors with abilities to promote epigenetic changes on genes related to reduced cancer risk[37].

In 2012, Rodriguez receive a grant from the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) to investigate the production of human butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), an enzyme used to treat the effects of chemical warfare agents, like Sarin gas[38]. Using the fermentation of rice cells transformed with the human BuChE gene, the plant-made enzyme was produced and found to be as effective as human-sourced BuChE in neutralizing Sarin[39]

Diversity, Inclusion, Equity

Throughout his career, Rodriguez provided educational and research opportunities for racial/ethnic minorities (REM) and women in STEM. From 1980 to 1994, he provided undergraduate research experiences for REMs and women from various California State Universities, NIH MBRS[40]/MARC[41] programs, and select HBCUs around the U.S.. From 2001 to 2002, Rodriguez served as a member and eventually chair of the Advisory Council, for what is now the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities. From 2005 to 2016 Rodriguez served as a member of the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health[42] (BIRCWH) program at the UC Davis Medical Center. In 2016, he was a member of the UC Davis NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program[43] (PREP) Internal Advisory and Steering Committees. From 2012 to 2017, Rodriguez served as co-Principle Investigator and member of the NSF ADVANCE[44]/ CAMPOS[45] program designed to increase the number of REM women faculty members in STEM-focused departments at UC Davis.

In 2013, Rodriguez received funding from Intel Corporation to organize the first Girls Who Code summer immersion course on a university campus to give high school girls[46] exposure to computer programming and other high-tech jobs skills needed to prepare for careers in computer science. From 1997 to 2006, Rodriguez served on the Board of Directors for the Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Center of Yolo County, (now known as Empower Yolo[47]. As chairman of the fundraising committee, he helped raise funds to build a state-of-the-art shelter for women and children escaping violent environments.

Selected Publications

Honors and Awards

  • 2018 Collaborative Professor, ICBiotech Osaka University, Suita Campus[48], Osaka Japan
  • 2018 UC Davis CAMPOS Inaugural Hall of Fame member
  • 2018 Outstanding Alumni, College of Science & Mathematics Fresno State University
  • 2016 Principles of Community Award, College of Biol. Sci.
  • 2008 USDA-ARS Beltsville Center Distinguished Lecturer
  • 1997 Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, College of Biol. Sci.
  • 1977 University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1973 Ford Foundation Graduate Fellowship

Professional Societies

  • 1970 American Association for the Advancement of Science[1]
  • 1979 Sigma Xi Society
  • 1982 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, (SACNAS) Lifetime Member/Friend of the Society
  • 1989 American Society of Plant Biologists
  • 1990 Intl. Society for Plant Molecular Biology
  • 2000 American Chemical Society

Professional Service and Activities

  • 2019 Program Manager, Master Collaborative Agreement between UC Davis and Kirin Holdings Co. Limited[49]
  • 2019 Chair, UC Davis/Osaka Univ. Faculty - Grad Student Exchange Program Steering Committee
  • 2015 Presenter, US President’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST)[50]
  • 2007-2008 Chair, Committee of Visitors, NSF Directorate for Biol. Sci., Plant Genome Research Program 3-Year Review
  • 2002 Chair, Advisory Council, National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities
  • 2001 Chair, Advisory Committee for the NIH Office for Research on Minority Health
  • 1999 Chair, Strategic Planning Committee for the NIH Office on Research on Minority Health
  • 1992 Chair, Fulbright/Rhodes Fellowship Committee, UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies
  • 1992 Director, Professors for the Future Program, UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies
  • 1992 Co-Director, UC Davis Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Science and Engineering (SURPRISE), Office of Graduate Studies
  • 1991 Chair, External Review Panel for the Norwegian Agricultural Biotechnology Program
  • 1990 Visiting Scientist, Human Genome Project, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • 1989 Chair, International Rice Genome Organization
  • 1984 Director, Summer Undergraduate Affirmative Action Research Program, UC Davis
  • 1981 Chair, UC Davis Graduate Admissions Committee for the Genetics Graduate Group
  • 1980 Chair, UC Davis Biological Hazards Safety Committee

Outside Activities

  • 2014-2020 Vice President, Humanity Beyond Barriers[51]
  • 2011 Consultant, Institute for the Future, Palo Alto CA
  • 2000 Founder, Chairman and CEO, Davis Bioscience Group, LLC
  • 1999 Member, Board of Directors, Ventria Bioscience Inc.,
  • 1997 Member, Board of Directors, Yolo County Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center (Empower Yolo)[52]
  • 1993-2000 Founder and Chairman of the Board, Ventria Bioscience Inc. (formally Applied Phytologics Inc.)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 University of California, Davis. (2019b, November 26). Raymond L. Rodriguez. College of Biological Sciences. https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/raymond-rodriguez
  2. Neve, R.L., R.W. West and R.L. Rodriguez. 1979. Eukaryotic DNA fragments which act as promoters for a plasmid gene. Nature 277:324-325.
  3. West, R.W., Jr., R.L. Neve and R.L. Rodriguez. 1979. Construction and characterization of E. coli promoter-probe plasmid vectors. I. Cloning promoter-containing DNA fragments. Gene 7:271.
  4. Song, S., Tian, D., & Zhang, Z. (2018). Rice Genomics: over the Past Two Decades and into the Future. Genomics, Proteomics, & Bioinformatics, 16(6), 397–404. [1]
  5. Whitfield, J. (2002, April 5). Rice genome unveiled : Nature News. Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. https://www.nature.com/news/2002/020402/full/news020402-6.html
  6. Rodriguez, R. (2008, February 27). NCMHD Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics. Grantome. https://grantome.com/grant/NIH/P60-MD000222-05S1
  7. Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. (n.d.). Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. CHORI. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from http://www.chori.org/
  8. Global HealthShare Initiative. (n.d.). Raymond Rodriguez, Ph.D. Executive Director. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from http://ghs.ucdavis.edu/member-raymond.shtml
  9. Global HealthShare Initiative. (n.d.-a). Galleries. Global HealthShare UCD. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://globalhealthshareucd.smugmug.com/
  10. Nandi, S., Thota, S., Nag, A., Divyasukhananda, S., Goswami, P., Aravindakshan, A., Rodriguez, R.L., and Mukherjee, B. 2016. Computing for Rural Empowerment: Enabled by Last-Mile Telecommunications. IEEE Communications Magazine 54(6): 102-109. DOI: 10.1109/MCOM.2016.7498095
  11. Global HealthShare. (2013, August 2). Diarrheal Disease Treatment: Why It’s Important. Global HealthShare Initiative. https://globalhealthshare.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/diarrheal-disease-treatment-why-its-important/
  12. Global HealthShare Initiative. (n.d.-b). Increasing Global Economic Citizenship One Healthy Village at a Time. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from http://ghs.ucdavis.edu/
  13. Rodriguez, R. L., Dalbey, M. S., & Davern, C. I. (1974). Autoradiographic evidence for bidirectional DNA replication in escherichia coli. Journal of Molecular Biology, 74(4), 599–602. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-2836(73)90050-8
  14. Rodriguez, R.L., M.S. Dalbey and C.I. Davern. 1973. Autoradiographic evidence for bidirectional DNA replication in E. coli. J. Mol. Biol. 74:599-604.
  15. University of California San Francisco. (n.d.). UCSF. UCSF. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.ucsf.edu/
  16. University of California, San Francisco. (n.d.). More on the pBR322 Episode. Online Archive of California. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://oac.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt7q2nb2hm;NAAN=13030&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=d0e6207&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e6207&brand=oac4
  17. Institute of Medicine. 2014. Oversight and Review of Clinical Gene Transfer Protocols: Assessing the Role of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  18. pBR322 an example of plasmid vector. (n.d.). Cloning Vectors. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from http://www.asiyakm.yolasite.com/pbr322.php
  19. Bolivar F, Rodriguez RL, Greene PJ, Betlach MC, Heyneker HL, Boyer HW, Crosa JH, Falkow S. Construction and characterization of new cloning vehicles. II. A multipurpose cloning system. Gene. 1977;2(2):95-113. PMID: 344137.
  20. Bolivar, F., R.L. Rodriguez, P.J. Greene, M.C. Betlach, H.L. Heyneker, Boyer H.W. Crosa, J.H. S. Falkow. 1977. Construction and characterization of new cloning vehicles. II. A multipurpose cloning system. Gene, 2:95.
  21. Raymond L. Rodriguez - Google Scholar. (n.d.). Google Scholar. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=PqtYDZQAAAAJ&hl=en
  22. Itakura K, Hirose T, Crea R, Riggs AD, Heyneker HL, Bolivar F, Boyer HW. Expression in Escherichia coli of a chemically synthesized gene for the hormone somatostatin. Science. 1977 Dec 9;198(4321):1056-63. doi: 10.1126/science.412251. PMID: 412251.
  23. Villa-Komaroff, L., Efstratiadis, A., Broome, S., Lomedico, P., Tizard, R., Naber, S. P., Chick, W. L., & Gilbert, W. (1978). A bacterial clone synthesizing proinsulin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 75(8), 3727–3731. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.75.8.3727
  24. R.L. Rodriguez and M.J. Chamberlin. Promoters: Structure and Function. R.L. Rodriguez and M.J. Chamberlin eds. Praeger Scientific, New York, 1982.
  25. Rodriguez, R.L. and D.T. Denhardt. 1987. Vectors: A survey of molecular cloning vectors and their uses. Butterworth Publishing Co. Stoneham, Mass.
  26. Podhajska, A. J. (1984). Recombinant DNA Techniques: An Introduction. Gene, 26(2–3), 323–324. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0016672300025969
  27. Rodriguez, R.L. and R.C. Tait. 1983. Recombinant DNA techniques: An introduction. Addison Wesley Publishing Co., Reading Mass.
  28. Huang, N., Sutliff, T.D., Litts, J.C. and Rodriguez, R.L. 1990. Classification and characterization of the rice alpha-amylase multigene family. Plant Mol. Biol. 14:655-668.
  29. Rodriguez, R., Huang, N. Sutliff, T., Ranjhan, S., Karrer, E., and Litts, J. C. 1991. Organization, structure and expression of the rice alpha-amylase multigene family. In, Rice Genetics II. Manila, pp. 417-429.
  30. Huang J, Sutliff TD, Wu L, Nandi S, Benge K, Terashima M, Ralston AH, Drohan W, Huang N, Rodriguez RL. Expression and purification of functional human alpha-1-Antitrypsin from cultured plant cells. Biotechnol Prog. 2001 Jan-Feb;17(1):126-33. doi: 10.1021/bp0001516. PMID: 11170490.
  31. Huang J., Sutliff, T.D., Wu, L., Nandi, Somen, Benge, Kelli, Terashima, M., Ralston, A., Drohan, W. Huang, N. and Rodriguez, R.L. 2001. Expression and purification of functional recombinant human alpha-1-antitrypsin from cultured plant cells. Biotechnol. Prog. 17:126-133.
  32. Ventria Bioscience. (2019, January 6). Home. https://ventria.com/
  33. University of California, Davis. (2020, April 1). Professors for the Future - About. GradPathways Institute for Professional Development. https://gradpathways.ucdavis.edu/pftf-about
  34. Kaput, J., & Rodriguez, R. L. (2006). Nutritional Genomics: Discovering the Path to Personalized Nutrition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1002/0471781797
  35. Bidlack, W. R., & Rodriguez, R. L. (2011). Nutritional Genomics: The Impact of Dietary Regulation of Gene Function on Human Disease (1st ed.). CRC Press.
  36. Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture. (n.d.). In Memoriam: Wayne Bidlack. Cal Poly Pomona. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.cpp.edu/agri/news/2018-bidlack-obit.shtml
  37. Galvez, A.F., Huang, L., Magbanua, M.M.J. Dawson, K. R. L. Rodriguez. 2011. Differential Expression of Thrombospondin (THBS1) in Turmorigenic and Nontumorigenic Prostate Epithelial Cells in Response to a Chromatin-Binding Soy Peptide. Nutrition and Cancer 63(4):623-636.
  38. Corbin, J.M., Hashimoto, B.I., Karuppanan, K., Kyser, Z. R., Wu, L., Roberts, B.A., Noe, A.R., Rodriguez, R.L., McDonald, K.A., and Nandi, S. 2016. Semicontinuous bioreactor production of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase in transgenic rice cell suspension cultures. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7 (412): 1-8, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2016.00412.
  39. Corbin, J.M., Kailemia, M. J., Cadieux, L. C., Alkanaimsh, S., Karuppanan, K., Rodriguez, R.L., Lebrilla, C.B., Cerasoli, D.M., McDonald, K.A., and Nandi, S. 2018. Purification, Characterization, and N-glycosylation of Recombinant Butyrylcholinesterase from Transgenic Rice Cell Suspension Cultures. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 1-10. DOI: 10.1002/bit.26557
  40. Cal State LA. (2017, January 10). MBRS-RISE Undergraduate Scholars Program. https://www.calstatela.edu/centers/moreprograms/rise/rise.htm
  41. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (n.d.). Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Awards (T34). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/marc/pages/ustarawards.aspx
  42. National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH). National Institutes of Health: Office of Research on Women’s Health. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://orwh.od.nih.gov/career-development-education/building-interdisciplinary-research-careers-womens-health-bircwh#:%7E:text=The%20Building%20Interdisciplinary%20Research%20Careers,health%20and%20sex%2Ddifferences%20research.
  43. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (n.d.-b). Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) (R25). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/PREP
  44. National Science Foundation. (n.d.). ADVANCE: Organizational Change for Gender Equity in STEM Academic Professions. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5383
  45. University of California, Davis. (2013, February 26). CAMPOS Initiative. UC Davis ADVANCE. https://ucd-advance.ucdavis.edu/campos
  46. Global HealthShare. (2013a, July 16). Girls Who Code Summer Update. Global HealthShare Initiative. https://globalhealthshare.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/girls-who-code-summer-update/
  47. Empower Yolo). (n.d.). Empower Yolo. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://empoweryolo.org/
  48. Osaka University. (n.d.). Suita campus. 大阪大学. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/access/suita
  49. University of California, Davis. (n.d.). Kirin Joins Osaka University and UC Davis to Train the Next Generation of Plant Biotechnologists. UC Davis Grad Studies. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://grad.ucdavis.edu/news/kirin-joins-osaka-university-and-uc-davis-train-next-generation-plant-biotechnologists
  50. US Department of Energy. (2020, June 24). President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Office of Science. https://science.osti.gov/About/PCAST
  51. Humanity Beyond Barriers. (n.d.). About Us – Humanity Beyond Barriers. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.humanitybeyondbarriers.org/about-us/#\
  52. Raymond (Ray) Rodriguez. (n.d.). Experience. [LinkedIn page]. LinkedIn. Retrieved March 8, 2020, from https://www.linkedin.com/in/raymond-rodriguez-b10b116/

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