Richard Myers on Human Transcription Factors
  Richard Myers     Biography    
Recorded: 29 May 2003

So we’ve done a lot of different things. And again we’ve really focused on the human. Of course we study other organisms because it helps us understand human. But we really look directly… and we’ve taken several approaches. One, my lab developed ways of looking at the function of transcriptional promoters, but all of them, or as many of them as we possibly can. We would subclone these promoters and look at them by transient transfection reporter gene expression in a dozen cell lines. And from that sort of functional approach, we were able to actually identify functional elements, figure out what things are actually promoters. So that’s one of the approaches.

The other approach has been looking at how proteins interact with DNA on a global scale. And of course ChIP is the method that was developed earlier to do this. And it’s a very powerful technique. We spent a lot of time using ChIP followed, ChIPping or immunoprecipitating the chromatin, the protein DNA complexes, and then analyzing them by hybridization to microarrays. And we didn’t really like the outcome of those experiments ’cause they were messy, lot of noise, expensive, hard to do, lots of cross hybridization for instance gives you inaccurate data. So we developed with Barbara Wold’s lab just a couple of years ago a new method called ChIP-Seq, a ChIP followed by S-e-q, where we sequenced the DNA that is immunoprecipitated by one of the next generation sequencing methods. So that’s been one of the methods, and so we’ve applied that in a big way to lots of transcription factors. Mostly as part of the ENCODE Project, we’re one of the laboratories that contributes to that. But also for a number of other problems outside of ENCODE. So that’s one of the methods.

There’s several others in functional genomics as well. Using a similar method, similar approach as we look at genome-wide methylation patterns at CpG islands and other CpG-rich regions. And the idea there is to do an experiment that produces either methylated or unmethylated fragments and then sequence them by the next generation methods. And we’ve applied this to another similar technique to look at RNA as well, to look at RNA profiling by sequencing as well. So that’s been a big part of the focus, it’s not the only one, bit a big part of the focus of my laboratory in the last, in the five years since we talked.

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.