About Richard Myers
Richard M. Myers, PhD
Genomic and genetic analysis of human traits and diseases
Location: 601 Genome Way, Huntsville, AL 35806
Richard Myers, PhD, has enough energy to fill all 270,000 square feet of the main facility at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, where he is the president and scientific director as well as a faculty investigator. Myers’ passion for genomic research and biotechnology led him to the non-profit research and education enterprise at its opening in 2008.
“We have the capability of really changing the world with genomics, both in our work with human genomes and with organisms that are important to agriculture and the environment,” Myers says. “Our educational outreach team provides tools for everyone to understand genomics and to inspire the next generation of scientists. And our collaboration with the business community propels the promise of genomic science into real world enterprises.”
Myers, a native of Selma and Tuscaloosa, Ala., received his BS in biochemistry from the University of Alabama in 1977 and his PhD 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 1986. He moved to Stanford University in 1993, where he served as professor and chair in the department of genetics. Work in Myers’ Stanford Human Genome Center contributed more than 10 percent of the data for the public Human Genome Project.
As a faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha, Myers leads a lab that studies the human genome with the goal of understanding how changes in the genome contribute to human traits, including human diseases and behaviors.
“Genes are like instructions and instructions, just like words on a page, can have a typographical error, a mistake,” Myers says. “If you have a mistake, called a mutation, it can cause a mild problem, or it can cause something really severe, even deadly.”
The Myers Lab also applies genomic approaches to identify sections of the genome that relate to clinical and basic biological problems. They examine how genes interacting with the environment contribute to human diseases and other traits, and they work to understand how the human genome is involved in cancers, brain disorders, ALS, developmental disorders, and autoimmune diseases.
“While I think we knew working on the Human Genome Project that it would be the basis for all this research,” Myers says, “I really don’t think I would have predicted at the time that we could turn it into something so quickly where we could look at a genetic blueprint and apply it to medical solutions or agricultural and environmental solutions. We’re just at the beginning.”