James Hicks was born on September 11, 1946, in Neenah, Wisconsin. In 1968, he obtained his B.A. in Biology from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and in 1975 received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Oregon Institute of Molecular Biology, working with Dr. Ira Herskowitz. Dr. Hicks continued his post-doctoral studies in Molecular Genetics at Cornell University. From 1977 until 1985, Dr. Hicks collaborated with Jeff Strathern and Amar Klar in the Cold Spring Harbor Yeast Group where they researched the mechanisms of mating-type switching in yeast.
Dr. Hicks is the co-founder of ViroGenomics, a Portland biotech company specializing in new treatments for chronic and acute viral disease. He remains at ViroGenomics as board member and is also a board member of GenDx Corporation and Barrett Business Services. Dr. Hicks returned to CSHL as a visiting professor in 2003 and works with Dr. Michael Wigler on the genomics of breast cancer.
The James Hicks Collection at the CSHL Library and Archive documents the research of Dr. James Hicks during his time at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (1977–1985), where he worked with Amar Klar and Jim Strathern at Delbrück Laboratory in the Yeast Group. The collection consists of laboratory research notebooks one of which includes slide transparencies and photographs.