Richard Burgess is the Vice president of Sciences on the Wisconsin Academy Board of Directors. Burgess founded the University of Wisconsin-Madison Biotechnology Center in 1984 and was director until 1996. He received a BS in chemistry at Caltech and PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard. He did his postdoc at the Institute for Molecular Biology (Geneva, Switzerland). Burgess was director of research in biochemistry at Genetic Systems Corporation in Seattle while on a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship during a sabbatical year.
Burgess has published more than 210 research papers on the biochemistry and molecular biology of RNA polymerase, transcription factors and gene expression; protein biotechnology and purification; and target-based drug discovery. He teaches UW-Madison courses on protein purification and characterization and topics in biotechnology. Burgess co-founded the UW-Madison Center for Biology Education, served on the National Research Council's Committee on Bio-Based Industrial Products, and received the 1982 Pfizer Award for outstanding contributions to enzyme chemistry, and the 1999 Waksman Medal for discovery of the first transcription factor, sigma.
Burgess is editor-in-chief of the journal Protein Expression and Purification and is chair of the two-week lab course on protein purification held each April at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2003 and an AAAS Fellow in 2008. In 2001 Burgess co-founded ConjuGon, a Madison biotech company. He serves on the boards of several biotech companies (ConjuGon, and NeoClone) and has served on the board of the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Devices Association.