September 8, 2000
La Jolla, CA – Richard A. Murphy, director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), has been named president and chief executive officer of The Salk Institute, effective October 1.
“I am enthusiastic about the prospect of working with Salk’s distinguished faculty to bring this renowned institution to even greater heights,” said Murphy, also a professor in the department of neurology and neurosurgery in McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine.
Added Frederick B. Rentschler, chairman of The Salk Institute Board of Trustees: “We are delighted that Rich Murphy is coming on board as Salk’s new president and CEO.
“He is a proven leader who has shown considerable skill for attracting new resources and talent and generally raising the level of facilities and research wherever he’s been.”
Murphy has a distinguished history of scientific and administrative leadership.
At the University of Alberta, he restructured his department’s academic activities, incorporating major changes in its teaching programs and recruiting eight faculty members with expertise in cell biology and molecular neuroscience.
At McGill, Murphy strengthened the MNI’s molecular and cellular neuroscience capacity. During his eight-year tenure at the MNI, the Institute hired more than 20 faculty members with M.D. and/or Ph.D. degrees, established new research groups in neuronal survival and neuronal excitability and renovated more than 75,000 square feet of research space. He further presided over the construction of a 26,000 square foot Brain Tumour Research Centre (BTRC), expected to be the hub of a cross-Canada brain-tumor research network.
Murphy also helped spearhead a successful movement in Canada to restore funding for basic research, garnering national attention for his efforts.
At Salk, Murphy sees as one of his prime challenges the launching of a major capital campaign to increase the size of the Institute’s endowment.
“By raising additional resources, we can ensure the Institute’s independence, enhance its capacity to move in new directions, and continue to build a research environment in which senior and junior faculty, as well as fellows and students, will thrive,” he said.
Murphy, 56, was born in Massachusetts and received his undergraduate degree in 1966 from the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.; and a Ph.D. in zoology in 1974 from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
After two years of postdoctoral research at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, he was appointed assistant professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, where he was funded by a Sloan Fellowship and a NIH Career Development Award. He became an associate professor in 1981 and left Harvard in 1986 for the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada where he was appointed chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. In 1992, he was appointed director of the MNI, a teaching and research institute affiliated with McGill University.
In his research capacity, Murphy has investigated proteins called neurotrophins that are produced by cells in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system. Neurotrophins promote the growth and survival of nerve cells, and they induce structural and chemical changes in brain synapses that appear to play a role in memory. Murphy and his colleagues have studied how neurotrophins are produced within nerve cells as well as the mechanisms that regulate their release within the brain.
Among his many associations, Murphy is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, American Society for Cell Biology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, Canadian Association of Anatomy Chairmen, the Canadian Society for Cell Biology, Canadian Federation of Biological Societies, and the Harvard Business School Health Industry Alumni Association.
Murphy and his wife, Elaine, have three grown children.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is an independent nonprofit institution conducting basic science research dedicated to the improvement of human health and the quantity and quality of the world’s food supply. Its two main fields of concentration are neuroscience, and molecular-cellular biology and genetics.