The goal at MicroMGx is to develop the largest, functional library of natural products (through the most robust discovery platform) in order to facilitate a new pipeline of chemical matter into early stage pharmaceutical testing.
Making High Throughput Natural Product Discovery Possible
Natural products are chemicals produced by microbes that have important applications as the active ingredients in specialty chemical products ranging from pharmaceuticals to herbicides.
Our Mission at MicroMGx is to accelerate the discovery of new chemistry from nature that can enrich and extend human life.
Our Vision is that all undiscovered compounds produced by microbes will be identified and made accessible to life science R&D organizations around the world.
MicroMGx (originally named Microbial Pharmaceuticals) was co-founded in 2015 by Northwestern University Professors Neil Kelleher and Regan Thomson and University of Illinois Professor William Metcalf. The Chief Scientific Officer of MicroMGx, Anthony Goering, PhD, discovered the first novel, active compound using MicroMGx’s cutting-edge technology platform.
Metabologenomics is the core of MicroMGx’s natural product discovery platform, developed over a decade-long collaboration between the co-founding Professors. MicroMGx began operations in 2017 with an award from the Small Business Innovation Reward (SBIR) program of the National Institutes for Health.
Exec. Administrative Assistant
Jack M. Kloeber Jr., PhD
Jack Kloeber is trained in the fields of Decision Analytics, Industrial Engineering, Simulation and Optimization. After teaching Mathematics at USMA, West Point, NY, and 6 years of Graduate level Operations Research at the Air Force Institute of Technology, he retired from the US Army as an LTC and joined Bristol-Myers Squibb as Head of Portfolio Management. He moved to Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals and held the same position for 5 years. Jack left Johnson & Johnson to become a partner/owner of a successful consulting company of 14 analysts, Kromite LLC, where he focused on R&D decision-making for 12 years. He brings experience in running an analytics consulting company and working with executives in pharmaceuticals, government, and agriculture industries.
Anthony Goering, PhD
Anthony Goering is trained in the fields of natural product discovery and synthetic biology. He performed his graduate research in the laboratory of Professor Neil Kelleher as part of the collaborative team that created metabologenomics, which is now one of MicroMGx’s core technologies. As the chief scientific officer of MicroMGx, he oversees the continued development of metabologenomics, as well as its application to guide the discovery of new, bioactive natural products.
Neil L. Kelleher, PhD
Neil L. Kelleher is the Walter and Mary Elizabeth Glass Professor of Chemistry, Molecular Biosciences, and Medicine at Northwestern University. Neil’s research focuses on the use of mass spectrometry for applications ranging from proteomics to natural products chemistry. Prof. Kelleher is also an experienced entrepreneur; he has founded three other companies, including the successful software company, Proteinaceous, and Integrated Protein Technologies which provides cutting-edge devices for protein sample preparation. Neil is a co-founder of MicroMgx and advises on business and technology development, especially the integration of mass spectrometry and informatics into MicroMGx’s workflows.
William Metcalf, PhD
Bill Metcalf is the G. William Arends Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the complex chemistry that bacteria perform, including the biogenesis of methane and specialized natural products. Prof. Metcalf advises MicroMGx on the use of comparative genomics to identify the regions of the bacterial genome that are responsible for specialized metabolism, and on the use of advanced genome sequencing technologies.
Regan Thomson, PhD
Regan Thomson is a Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. His research pushes the boundaries of reaction design and applies it to drive the synthesis of complex biologically active molecules. As a Co-Founder and member MicroMGx’s board of directors, his insight as a synthetic organic chemist will guide the development of synthetic natural product analogs with improved activity and selectivity. The role of chemical synthesis in the commercialization of natural products with therapeutic activity is especially important because of current intellectual property policy, which severely limits protections on materials and compounds derived directly from nature.
Dr. Rajmony Pannu
Andrew joined MicroMGx in 2019 to grow the professional business practices needed for an expanding venture. His diverse experience from the local tech scene to global companies has allowed him to bring a unique understanding of the human capital needs of a new and growing organization. As a HR Business Partner, he is an evangelist for HR as a strategic collaborator for planned organizational maturation. In addition to holding the SHRM-SCP certification, he received a B.S. in HR Management & Entrepreneurship from Illinois State University and attained his MBA from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University.
Jennifer received her degree in nursing from Johns Hopkins University and worked for many years in specialties as diverse as the Neonatal and Pediatric ICU and in-home hospice. Although she no longer practices, Jennifer maintains an interest in issues related to public health and access to care. She has assisted with several successful start-ups and works at MicroMGx to support the administrative and logistical needs of the company.
Alph Bingham, PhD
Alph Bingham, Ph.D., joined MicroMGx as a Science/Industry Advisor in March of 2021. He is co-founder and former President and Chairman of InnoCentive, Inc. He has been a strong advocate of open innovation and founded InnoCentive along with other ventures that create the advantages of open and networked organizational structures, including: YourEncore, Inc., Coalesix, Inc., Maaguzi, Inc., Indigo Biosystems, Seriosity, Chorus and Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. He also remains active as Founder and CEO of Cascade Consulting through which he has worked with numerous biotechs and startups advising in the areas of portfolio management, computational modeling and open innovation systems.
Dr. Bingham currently serves on the Board of Directors of Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc. and the advisory boards of the Center for Collective Intelligence (MIT) and recently Elanco Animal Health. He has lectured extensively at both national and international events and has served as a Visiting Scholar at the National Center for Supercomputing Application at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Dr. Bingham is also the former chairman of the Board of Editors of the Research Technology Management Journal. He was the recipient of the Economist’s Fourth Annual Innovation Summit “Business Process Award” for InnoCentive. He was also named as one of Project Management Institute’s “Power 50” leaders in October 2005.
Dr. Bingham had over 25 years of experience with Eli Lilly and Company in pharmaceutical research and development, research acquisitions and collaborations, portfolio management and R&D strategic planning. Among others, he held positions as Managing Director of the Mont-Saint-Guibert Development Centre, executive director of project and portfolio management, vice-president of sourcing innovation, vice-president of e.Lilly and vice-president of R&D strategy. During his career, he was instrumental in creating and developing Eli Lilly’s portfolio management process as well as establishing the divisions of Research Acquisitions, the Office of Alliance Management and e.Lilly, a unit for business innovation.
Dr. Bingham has authored and co-authored numerous articles published in journals such as Harvard Business Review and the MIT Sloan Management Review. In April 2011, he co-authored with Dwayne Spradlin, the book, “The Open Innovation Marketplace.” In 2020, he co-authored with Simon Hill a second book, “One Smart Crowd.” He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University.
Richard Baltz, PhD
After completing Postdoctoral research at the University of Illinois, Dr. Baltz joined Eli Lilly and Company in 1974. At Lilly, he worked on projects directed at genetic manipulation of secondary metabolite production in actinomycetes, and expression of human peptides in Escherichia coli and other microorganisms. He led the Molecular Genetics department in the 1980s, and helped establish Lilly as a world leader in genetic engineering of industrial actinomycetes. His group developed molecular genetic tools in common use today, and were the first to generate novel macrolide, glycopeptide and beta-lactam antibiotics by genetic engineering.
Dr. Baltz retired from Lilly in 1998, and founded CognoGen Biotechnology Consulting. He consulted for several biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and agrichemical companies, then joined Cubist Pharmaceuticals in 2001 to help launch daptomycin, and to head the Natural Products group. His group developed genetic engineering methods and specialized Streptomyces hosts to produce novel lipopeptide antibiotics related to daptomycin by combinatorial biosynthesis. He retired from Cubist in 2009, reactivated CognoGen, and currently consults in the area of natural products. He is Reviews Editor for the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, and Section Editor for the Journal of Antibiotics.
Dr. Baltz is past president and a fellow of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. He has presented his work in over 250 publications, book chapters, and abstracts, and has 38 issued US patents.
Joseph Byrum, PhD
Joseph Byrum is a leader known for delivering results through knowledge-based solutions.
In his current role at Principal Financial Group, Dr. Byrum is Chief Data Scientist. He was recruited to build and manage a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence tool for equity trading, which involved assembling a skilled internal team to collaborate with best-in-class external partners. The result is an unrivaled financial analysis engine that boosts the accuracy of asset selection, reduces operational costs, and builds profitability. In addition to managing and extending this system’s capabilities, Dr. Byrum continues to develop new ways to transform the way Principal does business.
In his past role at Syngenta, Dr. Byrum opened the company’s eyes to the value of data-centric R&D. As Global Head of Product Development (Oilseeds) and Head of Quantitative Sciences, Dr. Byrum led operational, administrative, and financial oversight of R&D operations spanning the Americas. With 60 direct reports and annual investments exceeding $100 million, he managed the development of a suite of data analytics tools for the breeding of soybean that secured $287 million in cost avoidance. This effectively doubled the breeding program’s efficiency, garnering the attention of INFORMS, which awarded the effort the 2015 Edelman Prize—a first for any agricultural firm. The tools were expanded to cover the rest of the company’s high-value crop portfolio, writing a new chapter in advanced crop development. Rather than rest on this accomplishment, Dr. Byrum set out to apply analytical techniques to improve sales of these products with an engine that recommends the most appropriate advanced offering to meet the precise needs of each individual customer. The effectiveness of these analytical tools was recognized with the 2016 ANA Genius Award—again, a first for agriculture.
Dr. Byrum holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from Iowa State University, an M.B.A from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and both an M.S. in Science and Genetics and a B.S. in Science, Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University.
Glossary of Terms
Actinobacteria is a phylum of Gram-positive bacteria with high guanine and cytosine content in their DNA. Although understood primarily as soil bacteria, they might be more abundant in freshwaters. Considered to be one of the most prolific producers of natural products.
Bacteria are single celled microbes. The cell structure is simpler than that of other organisms as there is no nucleus or membrane bound organelles. Instead their control centre containing the genetic information is contained in a single loop of DNA.
A biological system is a complex network of biologically relevant entities. As biological organization spans several scales, examples of biological systems are populations of organisms, or on the organ- and tissue scale in mammals and other animals, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, etc.
On the micro- to the nanoscopic scale, examples of biological systems are cells, organelles, macromolecular complexes and regulatory pathways.
A compound is a substance formed when two or more chemical elements are chemically bonded together.
High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC; formerly referred to as high-pressure liquid chromatography), is a technique in analytical chemistry used to separate, identify, and quantify each component in a mixture. It relies on pumps to pass a pressurized liquid solvent containing the sample mixture through a column filled with a solid adsorbent material.
Mass Spectrometry (MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that helps identify the amount and type of chemicals present in a sample by measuring the mass-to-charge ratio and abundance of gas-phase ions.
Metabolites are the intermediates and products of metabolism. The term metabolite is usually restricted to small molecules. Metabolites have various functions, including fuel, structure, signaling, stimulatory and inhibitory effects on enzymes, catalytic activity of their own (usually as a cofactor to an enzyme), defense, and interactions with other organisms (e.g. pigments, odorants, and pheromones).
A natural products discovery platform that fuses metabolomics and genomics to increase the throughput of discovery.
A group of natural products that exhibit structural similarity and are likely related through biosynthesis.
A natural product is a chemical compound or substance produced by a living organism—that is, found in nature.
MicroMGx’s innovative software for navigating the complexity of natural product chemical space.
A strain is a genetic variant or subtype of a micro-organism (e.g., virus or bacterium or fungus).
While our vision is that we will discover all undiscovered compounds produced by microbes, and make them accessible to life science R&D organizations around the world, we are charging forward to accomplish our more focused mission of delivering Nature’s solutions to the world’s farmers. Our first step is to deliver MGX 1001, a licensable, patent-protected natural herbicide. If you are interested in collaborating, supporting our mission, or have any type of inquiry, feel free to contact us.