James R. Hudson Jr.
The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2014.
James (Jim) R. Hudson, Jr., grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of James R. and Mattie May Ellis Hudson. A 1960 graduate of Huntsville High School, Hudson received his bachelors’ degree in Chemistry and a masters’ degree in Physics from the University of Alabama, as well as a master’s degree in Biology from the University of Alabama, Huntsville. As a scientist and businessman, Hudson’s investments have made profound impacts in the advancement of biotechnology not only in Alabama, but throughout the world.
Prior to beginning his professional career, Hudson served as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1967 to 1970. During his tour of duty in Vietnam, Hudson flew many missions over North Vietnam, where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest honor awarded to a military aviator.
Hudson, his brother Gary, along with their father operated Hudson Metals, a gray iron and aluminum foundry. Hudson helped elevate Hudson Metals to one of the most productive small foundries in the southeast. In 1987, Hudson founded Research Genetics with an initial investment of $25,000, which later became a biotech business icon. Research Genetics was a chief partner in the Human Genome Project, the international effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health to identify the sequence of the DNA found inside human cells. Hudson served as Chief Executive of Research Genetics until 2000 when he sold the company to Invitrogen. The capital from Research Genetics opened doors for Hudson that helped biotech gain a foothold in Huntsville.
In 2005, Hudson co-founded and was the first president of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a nonprofit research institute that uses biotechnology to improve human health, stimulate economic development, and inspire the next generation of scientists. Today, The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology continues on in the spirit of the work Hudson started at Research Genetics. HudsonAlpha is at the center of Huntsville’s growing biotech campus, housing state-of-the-art, high-tech laboratories aimed at understanding diseases and improving health. More than two dozen biotech companies share space at HudsonAlpha, working in close proximity to researchers to bridge the gap from the laboratory to life applications. Hudson has advised and incubated many successful companies from internet services to genetics research that focus on benefiting society.