Richard A. Murphy

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Richard A. Murphy (born 1944) is an American neuroscientist who built his career in administrative leadership positions for research institutions. He is known for his leadership at the Salk Institute and at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University.

Early life and education[edit]

A native of Massachusetts, Murphy earned his bachelor's degree in 1966 from the College of Holy Cross and his doctorate in zoology at Rutgers University in 1974. He pursued post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.


In 1976 Murphy was awarded a Sloan Fellowship and a Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health and accepted a faculty position in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the Harvard University School of Medicine. He earned acclaim for his teaching and initiated a program of research that centered on the role of neurotrophins in the growth and survival of nerve cells, and in the synaptic activity related to the formation of memories. In 1986 Murphy was recruited as chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Murphy was recruited to be Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute, a teaching and research institute of McGill University. He was the first research scientist to hold that position, which he held from 1992 to 2000.[1] Murphy led the Institute in a period of rapid growth: recruiting 20 new faculty members to build programs in cellular and molecular neuroscience, and constructing a new 26,000 square foot Brain Tumour Research Centre. Murphy left Montreal to become President and Chief Executive Officer of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.[2] During his tenure from 2000 to 2006, he hired 16 new investigators to expand existing research programs in cancer, gene regulation and plant biology, and to build new programs in computational and theoretical biology and stem cell research.

Upon his retirement from the Salk Institute, Murphy served for six months as interim president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine while the agency recruited a new President. Among his many affiliations, Murphy is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies and is a member of the Advisory Council for the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation, a non-profit organization established by the National Science Foundation to promote international science collaboration. Based in Boston, Murphy is President of Richard Murphy and Associates, Inc.,[3] which provides consulting services to non-profit organizations engaged in medical research or clinical care.