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March of Dimes awards $250,000 to researcher who identified heart disease genes
Date:3/8/2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 8, 2013 A scientist whose research suggests potential cures for heart disease and treatment for heart defects the most common type of birth defects will receive the 2013 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

About 35,000 infants (1 out of every 125) are born with heart defects each year in the United States. Heart defects are among the most common birth defects and are the leading cause of birth defect-related infant deaths, accounting for about 25 percent of infant deaths.

Eric N. Olson, Ph.D., professor and chair of Molecular Biology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, has discovered pivotal genes and regulatory pathways that govern the development, disease and regeneration of the heart and other muscles. His discoveries help explain how heart formation occurs and have provided new ideas for ways to treat heart disease in children and adults.

"Heart defects affect about one percent of newborns and all of these cardiac birth defects are caused by abnormalities that occur during development," said Joe Leigh Simpson, MD, senior vice president for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes. "Dr. Olson's work has portrayed a detailed genetic model for heart development that provides a framework for how these genes function in normal and abnormal heart development. His work will surely lead to new ways to treat and prevent cardiac defects in infants as well as in adults."

Dr. Olson attended Wake Forest University, receiving a B.A. in chemistry and biology and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. After postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine, he assumed his first faculty position in 1984 at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he became Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1991. In 1995, he founded the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern.

Dr. Olson will receive the Prize at a gala black-tie dinner
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Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
elynch@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4286
March of Dimes Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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