Dr. Richard A. Murphy is a neuroscientist with a distinguished history of scientific and administrative leadership. He served as the president and chief executive officer of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California between 2000 and 2006. At Salk, he led strategic planning and fundraising exercises that resulted in the renovation of one-third of the Institute's research space, the hiring of 16 new young investigators to further build its cancer, plant biology, and gene regulation programs, and the establishment of new scientific programs in chemistry, computational, and theoretical biology, and stem cell research. He also recruited 24 new members to Salk's Board of Trustees.
After retiring from Salk, Dr. Murphy served for six months as the interim president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was established by Proposition 71 to distribute three billion dollars in funding for stem cell research.
Prior to joining Salk, he served between 1992 and 2000 as the director of the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) at McGill University, where he was also a professor of neurology and neurosurgery. During his eight years at the MNIs helm, he strengthened its molecular and cellular neuroscience capacity by hiring more than 20 new faculty members, establishing new research groups in key research areas, renovating more than 75,000 square feet of lab space, and constructing the 26,000 square-foot Brain Tumour Research Center. He also was a major player in a successful movement to restore government funding for basic research in Canada.
Dr. Murphy received his doctorate in zoology at Rutgers University and a bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross. He conducted post-doctoral studies at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and began his academic career at the Harvard University Medical School's Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy in 1976, with funding via a Sloan Fellowship and a NIH Career Development Award. At Harvard he won numerous teaching awards and conducted an active research program in neurotrophins, proteins that promote the growth and survival of nerve cells and appear to play a role in memory and neurodegenerative diseases.
He left Harvard in 1986 to chair the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Canada's University of Alberta. While continuing his laboratory research, he restructured that department and amassed a record of achievement that led to his MNI/McGill appointment.
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.