Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award for Gene Myers

Highest alumni honor of the California Institute of Technology for MPI-CBG Director Emeritus 

© Katrin Boes / MPI-CBG

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, USA, has announced the recipients of its Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA), which is given to four alumni who have made outstanding contributions to a field, a community, or society at large through both personal commitment and professional achievements.

One of the recipients is Eugene Myers, Director Emeritus and Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. He receives recognition for having revolutionized the bioinformatics industry. The 2023 class of DAAs comprises Nader Engheta (MS '79, PhD '82), Karen Maples (BS '76), Eugene Myers (BS '75), and Kenneth Suslick (BS '74).

Eugene Myers played a seminal role in the creation of the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) that revolutionized biological sequencing and continues to be used by scientists throughout the world, and later developed a whole-genome shotgun method that helped map the human genome. It was in the 1990s that BLAST became one of the most important computational tools in biology, allowing scientists to rapidly compare their DNA sequences against a vast database of other sequences. Later, as an executive at Celera Genomics, Myers pushed forward the whole-genome shotgun method that randomly breaks DNA into fragments, sequences them, and then reassembles them. This technique enabled Celera to map the fly, human, and mouse genomes in just three years. Myers, who has more than 250,000 total citations, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2006. He has been honored with the Max Planck Research Prize in 2004, the Association for Computing Machinery's Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award in 2002, the Royal Society Milner Award in 2019, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Frances E. Allen Medal in 2022.

“This year's Distinguished Alumni have contributed to society in diverse ways, spanning optical science, bioinformatics, sonochemistry, and medicine, all serving as role models and mentors for peers and succeeding generations,” says Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. “They demonstrate how the Caltech academic experience nurtures original thinking across disciplines to transform our understanding and experience of the world.”

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a world-renowned science and engineering Institute with the mission of expanding human knowledge and benefiting society through research integrated with education. The institute investigates the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating students to become creative members of society.

News Article of Caltech: