Richard M. Myers
The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2022.
Richard M. Myers, Ph.D. is a native of Selma. He lived in Tuscaloosa from the age of ten until completing college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Alabama in 1976, and a doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982. After completing his postdoctoral training at Harvard University, he joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center in 1985.
Myers moved to Stanford University School of Medicine in 1993, where he served as a professor and chair of the Department of Genetics. At the Stanford Human Genome Center, Myers led a team that contributed more than ten percent of the data to the public Human Genome Project’s effort to sequence the first human genome. During this time, his laboratory identified the genetic causes of several inherited diseases, including a form of childhood epilepsy and the most common cause of skin cancer.
In 2008, Myers returned home to Alabama to become the president and science director for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a non-profit research and teaching institute in Huntsville. Under his leadership, HudsonAlpha has become recognized as one of the top scientific institutions for genetics and genomics in the country. Myers’ leadership has also had a dramatic effect on economic development in biotechnology in north Alabama. HudsonAlpha has contributed more than $3.2 billion to Alabama’s economy. In July 2022, Myers was named chief scientific officer and president emeritus of HudsonAlpha.
During his tenure at HudsonAlpha, Myers has also contributed to many discoveries in the genomic sciences that are improving the human condition around the globe. His lab studies the human genome to understand how changes in the genome contribute to human traits, including human diseases, behaviors, and the body’s response to drugs.
A major focus of his lab is studying the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), as well as such neuropsychiatric disorders as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression. These studies focus on understanding the causes of these diseases and developing therapeutic approaches to mitigate them, as well as on identifying blood-based biomarker tests for early detection and monitoring the progression of these disorders.
Myers has been an avid teacher and mentor to many young scientists throughout his career. His accomplishments have been widely recognized. In 2011, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2020, he was named the M.A. Loya Chair in Genomics at HudsonAlpha and awarded the Wright A. Gardner Award by the Alabama Academy of Science. Myers is a senior editor of the journal Genome Research, published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. He has served on many national advisory and review committees and is currently a member of the Coalition for the Life Sciences.
Myers and his wife, Wendy Yang, have two children and a grandson.