31 Jan 2022

HudsonAlpha announces new named chair in genomics

Recent gift will create the Loretta Purdy Spencer Chair in Genomics

Loretta Spencer and Jane Grimwood, PhD

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology today announced the creation of a new chair in genomics that will be funded through a gift from former Huntsville mayor, Loretta Spencer. Her commitment will create the Loretta Purdy Spencer Chair in Genomics.

HudsonAlpha faculty member and co-director of the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center Jane Grimwood, PhD, has been appointed as the Loretta Purdy Spencer Chair in Genomics.

“I am grateful to be a part of this community and that I am able to support HudsonAlpha and the wonderful work happening here in Huntsville,” said Spencer. “I am thrilled that this chair will support HudsonAlpha’s mission and Dr. Grimwood’s research.”

Spencer served as the mayor of Huntsville, Alabama from 1996 through 2008 and is actively involved in many local nonprofit organizations, including HudsonAlpha. Spencer was the mayor when HudsonAlpha broke ground in 2005 and she has supported the Institute from the beginning.

“I remember when Jim and Lonnie had the vision to start HudsonAlpha,” shared Spencer. “I was even more excited that they chose to locate in Cummings Research Park West because we created the park to attract outstanding companies involved in all aspects of research. Their decision paved the way to bring a top-quality industry to Huntsville and served to attract scientists to the area from all over the world.”

Grimwood’s research focuses on genomic data collection and technology development for genome improvement of a wide variety of organisms, including plants, fungi, and vertebrates. She earned her PhD in microbiology from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Oxford, Dartmouth College, and the University of San Francisco. Grimwood was also part of the team at Stanford University that completed work on chromosomes 5, 16 and 19 for the Human Genome Project.

“Former Mayor Spencer has created a wonderful legacy with her lifelong love, dedication and service to the Huntsville community and beyond,” said Grimwood. “I am inspired to hold a named chair in her honor.”

“Loretta has once again demonstrated her extraordinary commitment to HudsonAlpha and the future of the Institute,” Rick Myers, PhD, HudsonAlpha president, science director and M. A. Loya Chair in Genomics. “Her positive impact will continue for generations to come, and we are grateful beyond words.”

The HudsonAlpha Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Institute, has created the opportunity to name chairs, such as the Loretta Purdy Spencer Chair in Genomics, as a way for donors to make an investment in the Institute to ensure its sustainability. In addition, chair positions help increase faculty retention and recruit new talent. For more information, click here.