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Benjamin R. Myers, PhD

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments: Oncological Sciences - Assistant Professor, Biochemistry - Adjunct Assistant Professor, Bioengineering - Adjunct Assistant Professor

Academic Office Information

(801) 213-6246

Huntsman Cancer Institute Research North

2000 Circle of Hope, Room: 5343
Salt Lake City, UT 84112


Research Interests

  • Hedgehog Pathway
  • Wnt Pathway
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Cilia
  • Second Messenger Systems
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell

Ben grew up in NJ and obtained his A.B. degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University. Afterwards, he promptly abandoned the east coast to pursue his Ph.D. in a sunnier environment with David Julius at the University of California, San Francisco, where he focused on the gating of transient receptor potential ion channels using yeast-based functional selections and electrophysiology. For his postdoctoral fellowship, Ben shifted gears by studying membrane signaling in a different area of biology -- development and cancer signaling. He joined the lab of Philip Beachy at Stanford University, where he studied the mechanism of Hedgehog signaling at the membrane from biochemical and biophysical perspectives. Ben joined the faculty of the University of Utah in early 2018.

Research Statement

In multicellular organisms, cell-cell communication is tightly controlled to ensure proper development and prevent diseases such as cancer. Our lab studies a key aspect of this process: how extracellular signals are transmitted across the membrane to the cell interior. ​We are tackling this problem from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on membrane biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, physiology, and a range of related approaches. A better understanding of transmembrane signaling will teach us how cellular identity is specified during development and in post-embryonic tissues, and help us to design better therapies for an array of malignancies.

Education History

Doctoral Training University of California San Francisco
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Undergraduate Harvard University
Biochemical Sciences, magna cum laude

Selected Publications

  1. Happ JT, Arveseth CD, Bruystens J, Bertinetti D, Nelson IB, Olivieri C, Zhang J, Hedeen DS, Zhu JF, Capener JL, Brckel JW, Vu L, King CC, Ruiz-Perez VL, Ge X, Veglia G, Herberg FW, Taylor SS, Myers BR co-corresponding author (2022). A PKA inhibitor motif within SMOOTHENED controls Hedgehog signal transduction. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 29(10), 990-999.
  2. Nelson IB, Myers BR (2021). Studies of SMOOTHENED Activation in Cell-Free and Reconstituted Systems. In Methods Mol Biol (2374, pp. 161-174). United States.
  3. Walker MF, Myers BR (2021). Rapid, Direct SMOOTHENED Activity Assays in Live Cells Using cAMP-Based Conformational Sensors. In Methods Mol Biol (2374, pp. 175-184). United States.
  4. Arveseth CD, Happ JT, Hedeen DS, Zhu JF, Capener JL, Klatt Shaw D, Deshpande I, Liang J, Xu J, Stubben SL, Nelson IB, Walker MF, Kawakami K, Inoue A, Krogan NJ, Grunwald DJ, Httenhain R, Manglik A, Myers BR (2021). Smoothened transduces Hedgehog signals via activity-dependent sequestration of PKA catalytic subunits. PLoS Biol, 19(4), e3001191.
  5. Deshpande I, Liang J, Hedeen D, Roberts KJ, Zhang Y, Ha B, Latorraca NR, Faust B, Dror RO, Beachy PA, Myers BR, Manglik A co-corresponding author (2019). Smoothened stimulation by membrane sterols drives Hedgehog pathway activity. Nature, 571(7764), 284-288.
  6. Zhang Y, Bulkley DP, Xin Y, Roberts KJ, Asarnow DE, Sharma A, Myers BR, Cho W, Cheng Y, Beachy PA (2018). Structural Basis for Cholesterol Transport-like Activity of the Hedgehog Receptor Patched. Cell, 175(5), 1352-1364.e14.
  7. Myers BR, Neahring L, Zhang Y, Roberts KJ, Beachy PA (2017). Rapid, direct activity assays for Smoothened reveal Hedgehog pathway regulation by membrane cholesterol and extracellular sodium. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114(52), E11141-E11150.
  8. Sweeney RT, McClary AC, Myers BR, Biscocho J, Neahring L, Kwei KA, Qu K, Gong X, Ng T, Jones CD, Varma S, Odegaard JI, Sugiyama T, Koyota S, Rubin BP, Troxell ML, Pelham RJ, Zehnder JL, Beachy PA, Pollack JR, West RB co-first author (2014). Identification of recurrent SMO and BRAF mutations in ameloblastomas. Nat Genet, 46(7), 722-5.
  9. Myers BR, Sever N, Chong YC, Kim J, Belani JD, Rychnovsky S, Bazan JF, Beachy PA (2013). Hedgehog pathway modulation by multiple lipid binding sites on the smoothened effector of signal response. Dev Cell, 26(4), 346-57.
  10. Myers BR, Sigal YM, Julius D (2009). Evolution of thermal response properties in a cold-activated TRP channel. PLoS One, 4(5), e5741.
  11. Myers BR, Saimi Y, Julius D, Kung C (2008). Multiple unbiased prospective screens identify TRP channels and their conserved gating elements. J Gen Physiol, 132(5), 481-6.
  12. Prober DA, Zimmerman S, Myers BR, McDermott BM Jr, Kim SH, Caron S, Rihel J, Solnica-Krezel L, Julius D, Hudspeth AJ, Schier AF (2008). Zebrafish TRPA1 channels are required for chemosensation but not for thermosensation or mechanosensory hair cell function. J Neurosci, 28(40), 10102-10.
  13. Myers BR, Bohlen CJ, Julius D (2008). A yeast genetic screen reveals a critical role for the pore helix domain in TRP channel gating. Neuron, 58(3), 362-73.
  14. Myers BR, Julius D (2007). TRP channel structural biology: new roles for an old fold. Neuron, 54(6), 847-50.
  15. Desai BN, Myers BR, Schreiber SL (2002). FKBP12-rapamycin-associated protein associates with mitochondria and senses osmotic stress via mitochondrial dysfunction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 99(7), 4319-24.