Myers & Cox on Craig Venter and the HGP
  Myers & Cox     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

David Cox: So there were like ten genome centers early on, something like that. And as each year went on they got whittled down more and more. Then at the time of the heavy lifting, of actually doing the sequencing, is that everybody was cut off except for a few. The idea of that it had to really be sequencing a lot. Now why this became difficult and it’s clear why it had to be the case. But then it was paradigm. It was like the Queen Mary. You couldn’t turn this ship around very much anymore. But when there were new workable scientific ideas, they couldn’t be incorporated. So this was the complete basis of the rift between Craig Venter and the rest of the public genome project. Because Craig did have a good idea of trying this out. But it was too late and it cost too much money and it would have to turn the whole boat around. So that the—but Craig wouldn’t take no for answer because he had his dream. He was passionate about this. And I think that that’s what led to all these tensions. Well, there was personal ego involved, but fundamentally it was a scientific idea and it was a belief in a scientific idea. And that once you had the project so far along it wasn’t possible anymore to test out two ideas in order to get the genome done on time. So, I think—

Rick Myers: Well and especially since the two ideas wanted it all for themselves. I mean so one group—

David Cox: Yeah, that’s a different issue, too. But I actually think, Rick, is that this ego business wasn’t so much the driving force -and it’s played out this it always is- you know, this was just personal egos. Well, there were a lot of big egos in this; but that it was a real scientific difference of opinion that couldn’t actually be tested and worked out in a regular scientific approach because of the nature of the project, that combined with all the money involved, serious money, in fact the more money that was involved, okay, the more politics that was involved and the less science that was involved, that was another trend that made things very difficult

David Cox received B.A. and M.S. degrees from Brown University and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington. From 1980 to 1993, Dr. Cox held faculty positions in the Departments of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. In 1993, he became Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine as well as the Co-director of the Stanford Genome Center.

Dr Cox was a co-founder of Perlegen, and has been Chief Scientific Officer of the Company since its formation in 2001. He has served on several international and national councils and commissions including the Council of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC). He presently serves as a member of the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine. Dr Cox's honors include election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cox was a member of one of the first groups to begin sequencing the human genome. His relationship with Watson developed from his interest in Cox’s innovative approach to sequencing, called radiation hybrid mapping.

He attended the 68th Cold Spring Harbor symposium to celebrate the completion of the rough draft of the human sequence.

Richard Myers, biochemist and geneticist, is currently Director of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama.

Following his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Alabama (B.S., 1977), Dr. Myers earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley (1982) with Robert Tjian. His postdoctoral work was performed at Harvard University with Tom Maniatis. In 1986 he joined the faculty of the University of California at San Francisco, and remained there until 1993 when he moved to Stanford University School of Medicine. He had been Professor and Chair of the Department of Genetics and Director of the Stanford Human Genome Center until July 2008 when he was named to his current position.

Dr. Myers is a member of numerous committees concerned with human genetic diseases and the Human Genome Project including the Genome Resources and Sequencing Prioritization Panel (GRASPP) and is Chair of the Genome Research Review Committee of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. He is also a member of the Biology and Biotechnology Program Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Myers has received numerous awards including the Pritzker Foundation Award (2002), the Darden Lecture Award from the University of Alabama (2002), the Wills Foundation Award (1986-2001) and was a Searle Scholar (1987-1990).

Myers was involved in every human genome meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and has attended CSHL symposia since 1986.