Recorded: 31 May 2003
David Cox: So early on, you know when Rick came and had the skill set and, you know, he is famous from these papers working, you know, with Tom Maniatis and Leonard Lerman. So when he came to UCSF the way we applied the medical genetics and the human genetics approach with that technology was to study Huntington’s disease. And that was the first disease that we worked together. That was really complicated because at that time we weren’t really part, you know, of the international community doing Huntington’s. We were definitely on the outs of that because that—but we decided, you know, that it was an important problem and we wanted to work together on that anyway. And so that was the first sort of way we started combining our talents. Using the somatic cell genetics that I knew and the actually molecular mutation detection stuff that Rick knew. But that built into the genome project. But that was our early biology.
We didn’t end up identifying the Huntington’s gene, not because we didn’t work hard at it, but there was an interesting lesson in that. In that we had taken a series of cell lines that were key crossovers, key patients that helped to localize the gene. And with our molecular techniques we did a great job. We were just in the wrong part of the chromosome. So it illustrated that the clinical material and being sure about it is really important. But that was the basis of the biology of how we started doing stuff together. The irony of that is that when you went in and did the later times when we were doing the mapping and sequencing of the genome project is that as a result of what Rick came with with mutation detection, that’s what got me interested in variation. And so when the genome center switched over more to sequencing than mapping that’s when I became more and more interested in the variation and the SNPs. So it was completely synergistic of our interests that the—when we quit working together as closely it was more because—there were two factors; first, divergent interests, but also these different skill sets is that that I left Stanford because, as Rick said, I really wanted to be able to follow my dream in a way that I was having a hard time doing there. Rick became Chairman of Genetics at Stanford, but that’s not because he likes doing administration. That’s because he’s great at organizing and great at dealing with people.
Rick Myers: And I can’t say no.
David Cox: So that part was hard because as we changed as we got older is that our roles in the world changed. Not our relationship with one another. But the roles in the world made it so that we couldn’t have the same relationship, you know, as two young guys who pulled everything together and worked.
What I value most about my relationship with Rick is that that relationship has always been the same and will never change.
Rick Myers: That’s right.
David Cox: And too often in science people have these relationships that really aren’t personal relationships. They’re a convenience. It’s a way at one point in time of working together so both people can get ahead. But that was actually never the basis of our relationship and we are very fortunate in that.
Rick Myers: That’s right. And a lot of people have commented about how interesting our relationship is because we’re so different from each other. I mean David and I have difference personalities, very different in just about everything.
David Cox: Ever way.
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.