Andy Berglund Named Inaugural Recipient of the Keith Hynes Endowed Professorship in STEM

A smiling man in a blue blazer stants in a laboratory.
Andy Berglund, director of Albany’s RNA Institute and professor of biological sciences.

By Erin Frick 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 28, 2024) — Andy Berglund, director of the University at Albany’s RNA Institute and professor of biological sciences, has been named the inaugural appointee to the Keith Hynes Endowed Professorship in STEM. 

Together with his team at the RNA Institute, Berglund is working to develop therapeutics and diagnostic methods for patients with repeat expansion disorders such as myotonic dystrophy, which is estimated to affect over 3.6 million people globally. Deeply involved in outreach and fundraising efforts, Berglund is the director of the New York State Myotonic Dystrophy Center, serves on the Muscular Dystrophy Association Research Advisory Committee and is chair of the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation Scientific Advisory Board.

Berglund also is a committed academic mentor and has personally supervised more than 100 postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduates, with many mentees going on to establish strong research careers supported by federal funding.  

The endowed professorship, established by a gift from Keith Hynes ’74, recognizes outstanding UAlbany faculty members in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines and/or the University’s artificial intelligence initiative. The professorship’s endowment provides a dedicated source of funds, in perpetuity, for the holder’s teaching and research, as well as support for student interns, field projects and acquisitions of new technology.

A man in a white short sleeved polo shirt smiles at a dark wooden lectern.
UAlbany alum and longtime donor Keith Hynes. (Image provided)

“UAlbany is making a concerted effort to establish new endowed faculty positions to support the exceptional work happening across all disciplines at UAlbany,” said UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez. “We are grateful to Keith Hynes for establishing this professorship, which recognizes and supports Andy Berglund’s groundbreaking research. UAlbany’s ability to attract and retain world-class scholars like Andy would not be possible without the generosity of dedicated supporters like Keith Hynes.” 

“As a student at UAlbany, I studied mathematics and computer science,” said Hynes, who has served as a member of the UAlbany Foundation Board of Directors for nearly six years. “In the years since, I’ve watched the University build strong programs in research across many diverse STEM fields, from nanotechnology to artificial intelligence. 

“The endowed professorship is a way to support research that is actively seeking answers to many of society’s most pressing challenges. I am thrilled that Dr. Berglund is the inaugural appointee. His work is on the cutting edge of harnessing RNA science for a range of biological and medical applications.”

“It is a wonderful honor to be named the Keith Hynes Endowed Professor,” Berglund said. “I’m excited that the endowment will fund initiatives such as the RNA Institute’s Summer Bioinformatics Program, which expands the pool of potential STEM researchers by providing high school and undergraduate student researchers with stipends to support their work.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Berglund directed the University’s surveillance program. Berglund’s team processed over 260,000 saliva samples, playing a critical role in protecting public health and helping UAlbany and the broader community safely reopen. 

“Andy Berglund is a remarkable scientist and professor, who is passionate not only about his research pursuits but also about supporting the next generation of scientists at all levels,” said Vice President for Research and Economic Development Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas. 

“Andy deeply believes in the importance of creating a pipeline of researchers engaged in work on rare diseases. He is dedicated to building programs like the summer bioinformatics program and the Research Experiences for Undergraduates in RNA program, which kicked off in 2023 with support from the National Science Foundation. I can think of no better example of a world-class scientist committed to empowering the next generation of researchers in a critical and emerging field.”