UC Davis Chemical Engineering alumnus Robert Kiss was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) this February, one of the academy’s 86 new members. The NAE cited him for, “contributions to mammalian cell culture and microbial processes that produce recombinant proteins and antibodies.”
Kiss is an expert in bioprocess scale-up, virus barriers that protect mammalian cell culture processes and glycosylation, and has used his expertise to develop and test cell culture processes for drugs that treat various forms of cancers and autoimmune disorders.
Kiss received his B.S. in chemical engineering from UC Davis in 1984 before going to MIT to earn his M.S. and Ph.D., also in chemical engineering. He soon embarked on a 24-year career at the biotech company Genentech, where he played a key role in developing and licensing cell culture processes for five drugs and oversaw the launch of the Vacaville manufacturing sites.
He left Genentech in 2017 for Sutro Biopharma, Inc., a biotechnology company that specializes in cancer treatment drugs, particularly antibody drug conjugates, which target only the infected cells in cancerous area. He currently serves as the company’s Vice President of Process and Analytical Development.
Through the years, Kiss has managed to stay connected with UC Davis. He sits on the Department of Chemical Engineering Advisory Board, which provides the department with assistance, assessment and advice on its programs, strategic plans, research and outreach efforts.
Election to the NAE is one of the highest honors an engineer can receive. Seventeen current or emeritus UC Davis faculty are members, including Chemical Engineering Professor Bruce Gates.