Written by: 
Amanda Yanowski

For Dr. Colin Meyer ('97 TAMS), the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at UNT offered more than an education -- it was a place of growth and camaraderie. As part of the tight-knit community in McConnell Hall, Meyer enjoyed pizza-fueled study sessions with fellow students, earning that pizza money by tutoring UNT students in organic chemistry with his roommate for $5 a session. Amidst the academic rigor of TAMS, Meyer recalls always sitting in the front row of a standout U.S. history class taught by Mike Campbell -- a departure from STEM subjects, but memorable for his compelling storytelling.

"I really enjoyed my time at TAMS. Fellow students become really good friends because you're with them all night, all day," Meyer says. "And the program helped me learn early that there's always someone smarter than you."

Meyer's journey from studying hard and forming a community in TAMS to the forefront of biopharmaceutical innovation intertwines the transformative power of education and the enduring impact of TAMS at UNT. In November 2023, Meyer and his wife, Jessica, contributed a $1 million gift to TAMS, focusing on scholarships, outreach and facility improvements to foster accessibility and excellence.

TAMS, the nation's first early college entrance residential program for gifted high school students, serves as a pivotal STEM education pipeline. After graduating from TAMS, Meyer went on to earn bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology from the University of Virginia, an M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and an M.B.A. from the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business. Meyer joined Reata Pharmaceuticals as its second employee in 2003, working to develop innovative therapies for patients with life-threatening diseases. He led development of Skyclarys® (omaveloxolone), the first approved treatment for Friedreich's Ataxia (FA), an inherited, debilitating and degenerative neuromuscular disorder.

In reflecting on his career, Meyer emphasizes the importance of enrolling in TAMS and moving away from his hometown of Granbury, where there were limited academic resources at the time.

It was a summer spent working at the UNT Health Science Center that set Meyer on a trajectory toward the biopharmaceutical industry. Witnessing what was being done in cardiovascular physiology research helped him glimpse the boundless potential of scientific inquiry, laying the groundwork for a career driven by innovation.

"I always wanted to go to medical school and excel in my career, and there were few opportunities to differentiate myself in my small hometown," Meyer says. "TAMS set me apart and pointed me down a great path with the help of many different and brilliant people."

Through their generous gift, the Meyers aspire to create pathways to excellence.

"We hope to enable students from small towns like me, those who will excel in a rigorous program, to find TAMS and have the financial support they need to attend and succeed," Meyer says.

With fond memories of studying in McConnell Hall and hanging out in the dining hall, Meyer is excited about the renovations his gift will make possible, enriching the student experience and creating a collaborative and technologically advanced space. The Meyers hope updating the facility will attract new students, inspire creativity and showcase the successes of alumni.

"We want McConnell Hall to be vibrant and inviting by adding technology and making it look more like a place that supports math and science," Jessica says.

TAMS Dean Glênisson de Oliveira applauds the Meyers' commitment to supporting students and enhancing the TAMS experience.

"This extraordinary contribution will serve as a cornerstone for the sustained provision of a world-class education for bright and motivated students," de Oliveira says. "The gift aligns seamlessly with our commitment to cultivating a diverse and intellectual community at TAMS. By fostering an inclusive environment, we can ensure that deserving students, regardless of their financial background, have the opportunity to access an exceptional education that propels them toward academic excellence and future success."

From left to right, Jessica and Dr. Colin Meyer ('97 TAMS) with TAMS Dean Glênisson de Oliveira.

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