Recorded: 31 May 2003
Rick Myers: We met at UCSF when I first started my first faculty position. I arrived there around early 1986. And David had been there already for a few years and was well established there. And I wanted to start doing human genetics. And somebody said I should meet this guy. And I went up and met him and we started doing work together immediately.
David Cox: The extension of that story is he went up and met me, but that we started talking and it was like four hours later that we quit talking. Because that although we had very different backgrounds, the complementary aspects of what we did made it so that it ended up with like a twenty year relationship.
Rick Myers: Yeah, it’s been remarkable.
Rick Myers: Well, essentially we have very different backgrounds. He’s a medical geneticist who has scientific research experiments, but on in a very different area. And I’m not clinically oriented at all. And not even worked on human anything when we first met and yet I wanted to. So it was kind of a neat combination of two different kinds of things. I worked on technology development and things having to do with DNA variation and David was very interested in that and then other techniques.
David Cox: Yeah, plus protein. I mean you really know biochemistry and molecular biology in a major way. I didn’t really know anything about, but knew medical genetics and sort of classical genetic stuff.
And that it was also different issues too. I mean that Rick is a person that really knew the details of getting things done in the lab. I more sat in the office, you know, and thought about things what were good ideas. And so we both did both parts, but that I was sort of like half a person until I met Rick. And putting that together really allowed us to accomplish ten times more than we would have separately.
Rick Myers: Yeah, it was incredibly synergistic, in fact everybody commented. It was an interesting thing to happen because David’s significantly older than I am. Actually, not significantly. But he was already established.
David Cox: And I act younger! So, so, so, so—
Rick Myers: But he does, he does. I mean he’s wearing shorts! So but David was already established as professor. I was just starting my own lab. And the advice you get when you first start your lab is that you need to establish your independence. You need to, you know, prove to everybody that you can do things on your own. So it was a slight risk to start with someone immediately. We didn’t merge our laboratories, but we immediately started collaborating on all the kind of stuff that we worked on. And I just said… didn’t worry about people were saying about my career. It didn’t hurt at all. In fact, it helped because it because of this synergy.
So we did this together for seven years at UCSF, is that right, David? And then we both in 1993 for a variety of reasons started thinking about going someplace else. And David and I looked at a couple of places and Stanford came into our radar screen and there was a possibility there in David Botstein’s department of genetics there. And it was very appealing because it was a department of genetics that had been there since 1959. They had a history in human genetics which was important to both of us. And were also embracing the whole genomics revolution in a way that was appealing and boy am I glad we did that because it in fact that was borne out when we got there. We had to build, you know, a lot of the genomics and the genetics—
David Cox: But, Rick, you should say that before we went—I meant the reason why we were able to go to Stanford is that you had this prior, you know, relationship with Jim. I mean, I didn’t actually know Jim Watson at the time. And Rick knew Jim really well because he had been teaching courses at Cold Spring Harbor. So through that relationship we were one of the first genome centers early on in the genome project that we set up at UCSF.
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.