Growing up 23andMe’s chief science officer Richard Scheller, Ph.D., had classmates in his elementary school, who wanted to be a firemen, police officers and astronauts.
Richard always wanted to be a scientist.
“My classmates had posters of rock bands or cars on the walls in their bedrooms,” he said. “I had the periodic table of the elements.”
That singular focus and a lifetime of scientific accomplishments was recognized this week when Dr. Scheller was named to the National Academy of Medicine.
“I’m honored to join such a prestigious group of scientists,” Dr. Scheller said after learning of his nomination.
Considered one of the highest honors in the field of health and medicine, membership to the academy is given to those recognized for outstanding professional achievements who also have had a commitment to service. More than 300 of its members are also Nobel laureates.
For Dr. Scheller, membership adds to the long list of accomplishments he’s made over his distinguished career that includes achievements not just in business, but in academia and research. Dr. Scheller joined 23andMe to lead the new therapeutics group, which is tasked with leveraging the company’s innovative research model to find and develop new treatments for diseases. When he came on board, 23andMe’s president Andy Page, noted how fortunate the company was to have him, calling Dr. Scheller a “visionary.”
Even in his short time with the company, Scheller and his team have made great progress, Page said. Before coming to 23andMe, Dr. Scheller served as executive vice president for research and early development at Genentech for almost 15 years. Prior to that he spent almost two decades at Stanford University serving as a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology as well as working as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Stanford University Medical Center.
Two years ago, Dr. Scheller received the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his discoveries concerning the molecular machinery and regulatory mechanism that underlie the rapid release of neurotransmitters. Considered one of the most respected science prizes in the world, the Lasker Award is sometimes referred to as “America’s Nobel.”
Last year, Dr. Scheller received a CalTech Distinguished Alumni Award for his work, and in 2010 he received a Kavli Prize, and he has a U.S. National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology. Along with now being part of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Scheller is also a member of the National Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.
He serves on the board of trustees for the California Institute of Technology and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. He has published more than 280 research studies.