Dr. Amemiya was born and raised in Hawaii. He completed his undergraduate studies at Purdue University and received his PhD in genetics from Texas A&M University. completed postdoctoral studies with Dr. Gary Litman in comparative immunology (Tampa Bay Research Institute, Florida). He took a second postdoctoral fellowship where he worked on the Human Genome Project with Dr. Pieter de Jong (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California). After his postdoctoral training, Dr. Amemiya became a faculty member (Assistant-Associate Professor) in the Center for Human Genetics at the Boston University School of Medicine for seven years, where he taught medical genetics and studied the genetics of an X-linked immunodeficiency diseases. Dr. Amemiya moved to Benaroya Research Institute in 2001. In 2007-2008, he served as a Program Director for the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. He is a full professor in the Biology Department at the University of Washington.
Dr. Amemiya is interested in the origins of novelty and innovation in vertebrates, with special emphasis on the adaptive immune system and vertebrate bauplan. His lab uses whatever tools are necessary to address fundamental biological questions, particularly large-insert cloning, comparative genomics, computational biology and developmental biology. His laboratory wishes to understand the mode by which diversity is generated at the genomic and developmental levels and how the mechanism emerged in the first place.