BCM Press release
Pioneering neuroscientist and the director of Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital, Dr. Huda Zoghbi is this year’s recipient of the Mortimer D. Sackler, M.D. Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Developmental Psychobiology, awarded by Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The prize is named after Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, pioneering pyschiatrist and entrepreneur. It recognizes researchers who have advanced our understanding of the developmental processes of mind, brain, and behavior that contribute to normal development and of the origins of mental illness. It is presented jointly every two years by the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The first prize was awarded in 2008 to Dr. Avshalom Caspi of King's College, London, and Duke University. Dr. Fernando Nottebohm of the Rockefeller University received the prize in 2010, and Dr. Carla Shatz of Stanford University received the prize in 2012.
Dr. Huda Zoghbi is a professor of molecular and human genetics, pediatrics, neuroscience, and neurology at the Baylor College of Medicine, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She has pioneered groundbreaking research on various neurological disorders such as Rett syndrome and other rare brain disorders, and has advanced research of more common conditions including autism and adult neurodegenerative diseases.
In one of her most well-known achievements, she provided a definitive genetic diagnosis for Rett syndrome that opened the door to better biological understanding of the disease and a search for treatment. Remarkably, she also identified genes responsible for other neurological diseases, including Math1, an essential gene governing the development of cells critical for hearing, balance, and breathing, and the genes for spinocerebellar ataxia 1 and 6.