Robert Moyzis

Robert Moyzis, PhD

Faculty - Full-Time
Robert Moyzis
Visiting Distinguished Professor of Biological Chemistry
  • PhD, Johns Hopkins University
  • Bio 290 Human Evolution and Behavior
  • Biochem 290 Biochemistry of the Brain
  • Psych 390 Evolutionary Psychology

Robert K. Moyzis, PhD, is internationally known for his pioneering work on human genome organization and complex genetic disorders. His discovery and molecular cloning of the human telomere is a landmark in the history of our understanding of chromosome structure and function. Alterations of this telomere sequence, (TTAGGG)n, the molecular “cap” of human chromosomes, have been implicated as responsible for cellular aging and cancer progression. As prior director of the Center for Human Genome Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and as an advisor to both the DOE and NIH, he helped initiate the worldwide Human Genome Project (HGP), whose goal to identify all human genes is now completed. His center developed many innovative recombinant DNA and DNA sequencing techniques, constructing the first high-resolution physical maps of human chromosomes 5 and 16. He has collaborated on many successful disease gene searches, including those for Fanconi Anemia and Familial Mediterranean Fever. Following his move to the University of California at Irvine, Moyzis’s research has focused on the development and use of HGP technology to study the molecular genetics of human variability and complex disease, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, and Alzheimer’s. His laboratory conducted the first genome-wide computational analysis of extensive Darwinian selection in humans. While it is often assumed that humans have stopped evolving due to our rapid cultural development, this pioneering analysis suggests the opposite: that our culture may have had a profound and ongoing effect on shaping our DNA. Dr. Moyzis obtained his PhD in Biophysics/Molecular Genetics from Johns Hopkins University, is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and is the recipient of numerous scientific awards, including the 2018 Los Alamos Medal and the United States E.O. Lawrence Presidential award for distinguished contributions to the field of molecular genetics.

Peer-reviewed publications (selected, June 2021; all 150 publications available on Google Scholar; 25,549 total citations, 170.3 average citations/paper, 65 h-index):

Top 20 citations

International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium. (2004) “Finishing the Euchromatic Sequence of the Human Genome”, Nature 431: 931-945. (4583 citations)

Robert K Moyzis, Judy M Buckingham, L Scott Cram, Maria Dani, Larry L Deaven, Myrna D Jones, Julianne Meyne, Robert L Ratliff, Jung-Rung Wu, (1988) “A Highly Conserved Repetitive DNA Sequence, (TTAGGG)n, Present at the Telomeres of Human Chromosomes”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85: 6622-6626. (2785 citations)

Aksentijevich,I., …, Ricke, D.O., Buckingham, J.M., Moyzis, R.K., Deaven, L.L., and Doggett, N.A. (1997) “Ancient Missense Mutations in a New Member of the RoRet Gene Family Are Likely to Cause Familial Mediterranean Fever”, Cell, 90, 797-807. (1172 citations)

Ding, Y-C.,Chi, H-C., Grady, D.L., Morishima, A., Kidd, J.R., Kidd, K.K., Flodman, P., Spence, M.A., Schuck, S., Swanson, J.M., Zhang, Y-P., and Moyzis, R.K. (2002) “Evidence of Positive Selection Acting at the Human Dopamine Receptor D4 Locus”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99: 309-314. (725 citations)

Julianne Meyne, Robert L. Ratliff, and Robert K. Moyzis (1989), “Conservation of the Human Telomere Sequence (TTAGGG)n among Vertebrates.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 86: 7049-7053. (975 citations)

Kang CH, Zhang X, Ratliff R, Moyzis R, and Rich A (1992) “Crystal Structure of Four-Stranded Oxytricha Telomeric DNA.” Nature 356: 126-131. (707 citations)

Meyne J, Baker RJ, Hobart HH, Hsu TC, Ryder OA, Ward OG, Wiley JE, Wurster-Hill DH, Yates TL, and Moyzis RK (1990) “Distribution of Non-Telomeric Sites of the (TTAGGG)n Telomeric Sequence in Vertebrate Chromosomes.” Chromosoma 99: 3-10. (678 citations)

Hawks, J, Wang, ET, Cochran, GM, Harpending, HC, and Moyzis, R.K, “Recent Acceleration of Human Adaptive Evolution” (2007) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 20753-20758. (623 citations)

JM Swanson, Pamela Flodman, James Kennedy, M Anne Spence, Robert Moyzis, Sabrina Schuck, Michael Murias, Joan Moriarity, Cathy Barr, Moyra Smith, Michael Posner (2000) “Dopamine Genes and ADHD”. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 24: 21-25 (606 citations)

RL Stallings, AF Ford, D Nelson, DC Torney, CE Hildebrand, RK Moyzis (1991) “Evolution and Distribution of (GT)n Repetitive Sequences in Mammalian Genomes.” Genomics 10: 807-815. (528 citations)

Wang, E., Ding, Y-C., Flodman, P., Kidd, J.R., Kidd, K.K., Grady, D.L., Ryder, O., Spence, M.A., Swanson, J.M., and Moyzis, R.K. (2004) “The Genetic Architecture of Selection at the Human Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4) Gene Locus”, Amer J Hum Genet., 74: 931-944. (463 citations)

Wang, ET, Kodama, G, Baldi, P, and Moyzis, R.K. (2006) “Global Landscape of Recent Inferred Darwinian Selection for Homo sapiens”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 103: 135-140. (393 citations)

James Swanson, Jaap Oosterlaan, Michael Murias, Sabrina Schuck, Pamela Flodman, M Anne Spence, Michael Wasdell, Yuanchun Ding, Han-Chang Chi, Moyra Smith, Miranda Mann, Caryn Carlson, James L Kennedy, Joseph A Sergeant, Patrick Leung, Ya-Ping Zhang, Avi Sadeh, Chuansheng Chen, Carol K Whalen, Kimberley A Babb, Robert Moyzis, Michael I Posner (2000) “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Children with a 7-Repeat Allele of the Dopamine Receptor D4 Gene have Extreme Behavior but Normal Performance on Critical Neuropsychological Tests of Attention.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97: 4754-4759. (389 citations)

Jonathan L Longmire, Annette K Lewis, Nancy C Brown, Judith M Buckingham, Lynn M Clark, Myrna D Jones, Linda J Meincke, Julianne Meyne, Robert L Ratliff, F Andrew Ray, Robert P Wagner, Robert K Moyzis (1988) “Isolation and Molecular Characterization of a Highly Polymorphic Centromeric Tandem Repeat in the Family Falconidae.” Genomics 2: 14-24. (318 citations)

RK Moyzis, KL Albright, MF Bartholdi, LS Cram, LL Deaven, CE Hildebrand, NE Joste, JL Longmire, J Meyne, T Schwarzacher-Robinson (1987) “Human Chromosome Specific Repetitive DNA Sequences: Novel Markers for Genetic Analysis.” Chromosoma 95: 375-386. (295 citations)

Xian Chen, SV Mariappan, Paolo Catasti, Robert Ratliff, Robert K Moyzis, Ali Laayoun, Steven S Smith, E Morton Bradbury, Goutam Gupta (1995) “Hairpins are Formed by the Single DNA Strands of the Fragile X Triplet Repeats: Structure and Biological Implications.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 92: 5199-5203. (289 citations)

Zhiyuan Shen, Paige E Pardington-Purtymun, Jarmon C Comeaux, Robert K Moyzis, David J Chen (1996) “UBL1, a Human Ubiquitin-Like Protein Associated with Human RAD51/RAD52 Proteins.” Genomics 36: 271-279. (271 citations)

James H Jett, Richard A Keller, John C Martin, Babetta L Marrone, Robert K Moyzis, Robert L Ratliff, Newton K Seitzinger, E Brooks Shera, Carleton C Stewart (1989) “High-Speed DNA Sequencing: An Approach Based upon Fluorescence Detection of Single Molecules.” J Biomolecular Struc Dynamics, 7: 301-309. (265 citations)

Deborah L Grady, Robert L Ratliff, Donna L Robinson, Erin C McCanlies, Julianne Meyne, Robert K Moyzis (1992) “Highly Conserved Repetitive DNA Sequences are Present at Human Centromeres.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 89: 1695-1699. (246 citations)

Sinoula Apostolou, Scott A Whitmore, Joanna Crawford, Gregory Lennon, Grant R Sutherland, David F Callen, Maria Savino, Maria D'Apolito, Angelo Notarangeio, Elena Memeo, Maria Rosaria Piemontese, Leopoldo Zelante, Anna Savoia, Rachel A Gibson, Alex J Tipping, Neil V Morgan, Sheila Hassock, Stander Jansen, Thomy J de Ravel, Carola Van Berkell, Jan C Pronk, Douglas F Easton, Christopher G Mathew, Orna Levran, Peter C Verlander, Sat Dev Batish, Tamar Erlich, Arleen D Auerbach, Anne-Marie Cleton-Jansen, Elna W Moerland, Cees J Cornelisse, Norman A Doggett, Larry L Deaven, and Robert K Moyzis (1996) “Positional Cloning of the Fanconi Anaemia Group A Gene,” Nature Genetics 14: 324-328. (262 citations)

Selected recent publications:

He, Q., Xue, G., Chen C., Lu, Z., Dong, Q., Lei, X. M., Ding, N., Li, J., Li, H., Chen CH., Li, J., Moyzis, R.K., Bechara, A., (2010) “Serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) influences decision making under ambiguity and risk in a large Chinese sample” Neuropharmacology, 59(6): 518-526. (114 citations)

McEvoy, B. P., Lind, J. M., Wang, E. T., Moyzis, R.K., Visscher, P. M., Pellekaan, S. M., Wilton, A. N., (2010) “Whole-Genome Genetic Diversity in a Sample of Australians with Deep Aboriginal Ancestry.” American Journal of Human Genetics, 87(2): 297-305. (97 citations)

Chunhui Chen, Chuansheng Chen, Robert Moyzis, Hal Stern, Qinghua He, He Li, Jin Li, Bi Zhu, Qi Dong (2011) “Contributions of dopamine-related genes and environmental factors to highly sensitive personality: a multi-step neuronal system-level approach.” PLoS One 6: e21636 (119 citations)

Q. Yang, Y., Li, J., Chen, C., Zhu, B., Moyzis, R.K., Lei, X., Li, H., Xiu, D., Liu, B., Chen, W., Xue, G, Dong (2013) “COMT rs4680 Met is not Always the ‘Smart Allele’: Val Allele is Associated with Better Working Memory and Larger Hippocampal Volume in Healthy Chinese.” Genes, Brain, and Behavior, 12: 323-329. (67 citations)

Grady, D.L, Thanos, P.K, Corrada, M.M, Barnett, J.L, Ciobanu, V, Shustarovich, D, Napol, A, Moyzis, A.G, Grandy, D, Rubinstein, M, Wang, G-J, Kawas, C.H, Chen, C, Wang, E, Volkow, N.D, and Moyzis, R.K. (2013) “DRD4 Genotype Predicts Longevity in Mouse and Human.” Journal of Neuroscience 33: 286-291. (69 citations)

Jean-G Gehricke, James M Swanson, Sophie Duong, Jenny Nguyen, Timothy L Wigal, James Fallon, Cyrus Caburian, Lutfi Tugan Muftuler, Robert K Moyzis (2015) “Increased Brain Activity to Unpleasant Stimuli in Individuals with the 7R Allele of the DRD4 gene.” Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 231: 58-63. (21 citations)

Bi Zhu, Chuansheng Chen, Robert K Moyzis, Qi Dong, Chongde Lin (2015) “Educational Attainment-Related Loci Identified by GWAS are Associated with Select Personality Traits and Mathematics and Language Abilities.” Personality and Individual Differences 72: 96-100. (12 citations)

Karen Wu, Chuansheng Chen, Robert K Moyzis, Ellen Greenberger, Zhaoxia Yu (2016) “Gender Interacts with Opioid Receptor Polymorphism A118G and Serotonin Receptor Polymorphism -1438 A/G on Speed-Dating Success.” Human Nature 27: 244-260. (11 citations)

Patrick Wing-leung Leung, Janice Ka Yan Chan, Lu Hua Chen, Chi Chiu Lee, Se Fong Hung, Ting Pong Ho, Chun Pan Tang, Robert K Moyzis, James M Swanson (2017) “Family-based Association Study of DRD4 Gene in Methylphenidate-responded Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” PLoS One 12: e0173748 (11 citations)

Chuansheng Chen and Robert K Moyzis (2018) “Cultural Genomics: Promises and Challenges.” J Cross-Cultural Psychology 49: 764-788. (1 citation)

  • 2019-present Visiting Distinguished Professor of Biological Chemistry, Soka University of America
  • 2016-present Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.
  • 2008-present Distinguished Senior Fellow, State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, China
  • 2008-2016 Professor Emeritus (recalled), Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.
  • 1997-2008 Professor, Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Joint appointments: Biological Sciences, Medicine and Pediatrics, University of California, Irvine. Co-founder, Institute of Genomics and Bioinformatics, University of California, Irvine.
  • 1989-1997 Director, Center for Human Genome Studies, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • 1984-1989 Group Leader, Genetics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • 1983-1997 Adjunct Professor, Cell Biology Department, University of New Mexico.
  • 1983-1984 Staff Member, Genetics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • 1981-1983 Instructor, Biophysics Division, Johns Hopkins University.
  • 1980-1983 Visiting Professor, Towson State University, Chemistry Department.
  • 1978-1981 NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Biophysics Division, Johns Hopkins University.
  • 1971-1978 NIH Predoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University.
  • 2018 Los Alamos Medal for Landmark Discoveries in Chromosome Structure and Function and Leading the Los Alamos Center for Human Genome Studies
  • 2015 Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2013 Invited Plenary Lecture, American Psychiatric Association, San Francisco
  • 2007-2008 Chair, NIDA Neurochip committee
  • 2004-2008 Member, National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Genetics Advisory Committee
  • 2000-2002 Chair, DOE Workshop on Exceptional Chromosome Regions
  • 2000-2007 NIH Human Genome/Human Genetics Study Sections
  • 1999 NEIU Foundation Honoree for Outstanding Achievement and Contributions to Learning
  • 1999-2000 NCI Biostatistics, Genetics, and Epidemiology Team (BGET)
  • 1999-2000 Medical Research Council of Canada Genomics Committee
  • 1996 Distinguished Performance Award, Human Genome Project, LANL
  • 1993 United States E.O. Lawrence Presidential Award for Distinguished Contributions to the field of Molecular Genetics


  •    Gene, Brain, Behavior Project (B07008) National Science Foundation of China
    • PI: Dong; Co-Investigator: Moyzis Project Years: 2007-present.
    • The goal of this project is to use genomic techniques, brain imaging and physiological/psychological approaches to determine the relationship between genes and variations in normal human behavior. Over 35 peer-reviewed publications have resulted from this research, a state-of-the-art molecular genetics/bioinformatics laboratory has been established in Beijing, and numerous students/Faculty have traveled between Beijing and UCI to conduct this interdisciplinary research.

Completed (UCI)

  • High Throughput, Low-Cost DNA Sequencing using Probe Tip Arrays NIH/NHGRI1RO1 HG004431-01
    • PI: Wickramasinghe; Co-PI: Moyzis Project Years: 10/1/07-9/31/10
    • The goal of this project was to develop novel technology for DNA sequencing using established Sanger sequencing reactions with electrophoretic separation along the surface of an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). Separation speeds were five orders of magnitude faster than currently available and can be conducted on sample quantities as small as a few molecules.  
  • DRD4 and Behavior in the Oldest-old NIH/NIA AG-24153
    • PI: Moyzis Project Years: 09/15/04-08/31/09
    • The goals of this project were to 1) develop a genetic repository (N= 500) of cell lines/DNA from a population-based cohort of 90+-year-old individuals well characterized with medical history, medication use, neuropsychological testing, and neurological examinations, and 2) test the hypothesis that specific dopamine receptor DRD4 alleles are associated with behaviors that affect longevity/quality of life in this cohort.
  • Genetics of ADHD in the MTA Sample NIH/NICHD 1RO1 NS43740
    • PI: Swanson; Co-PI: Moyzis Project Years: 09/30/03-05/31/08
    • The major goals of this project were to 1) generate cell lines of all probands/families of the NIH MTA Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) study for use in genetic studies, and 2) test the hypothesis that specific dopamine receptor DRD4 alleles are associated with clinically relevant behaviors/outcomes.   
  • Cancer Center Research Support NIH/NCI 2 P30 CA-62203-14
    • PI: Meyskens Project Years: 08/01/02-01/31/10
  • Center Grant to support UCI Cancer Center; Moyzis Role: Shared Resource Director for DNA Sequencing Facility 
  • Dopamine and ADHD: A Research Infrastructure Network NIH/NIMH MH066360
    • PI: Newcorn; Co-PI: Moyzis Project Years: 08/09/02-07/31/07
    • The major goal of this grant was to form an interdisciplinary research network to facilitate investigations into the etiology, pathophysiology and treatment of ADHD.  
  • Molecular Genetic Epidemiology Study of ADHD/DRD4 NIH/NIMH 1RO1 MH60660
    • PI: Moyzis Project Years: 12/01/00-6/30/04
    • The major goal of this project was to utilize Human Genome Project (HGP) sequencing technology to define at a molecular level the association of the human dopamine DRD4 gene with ADHD.
  • Genetic and Cultural Factors in ADHD: Differences Across two Pacific Rim Locations (Hong Kong and Irvine) Pacific Rim Research Program, University of California
    • PI: Swanson; Co-PI: Moyzis Project Years: 09/01/00-08/30/03
    • In a set of well-screened and matched cases with confirmed diagnosis of ADHD in Hong Kong and Irvine, CA, the dopamine hypothesis of etiology was investigated.  
  • Human Telomere Mapping and Sequencing DOE/OBER DE-FG03-97ER62485 A002
    • PI: Moyzis Project Years: 09/15/97-06/30/04
    • The major goals of this project were to map and sequence human telomeres and centromeres, as part of the Human Genome Project (HGP). This telomere project, while competitively renewed, was not funded due to the reallocation by Congress of Department of Energy HGP funds to the then newly established Department of Homeland Security.

Completed (Los Alamos National Laboratory)

  • Human Genome Organization F518 PI: Moyzis Project Years: 01/01/83-06/30/97
  • Center for Human Genome Studies PI: Moyzis Project Years: 10/01/88-06/30/97