About the Prize Recipients
Dr. Huda Zoghbi
Huda Zoghbi's first semester of medical school at the American University in Beirut was shattered by civil war. Determined to finish the year, she and her fellow students and their professors lived in the basement of the medical school building, attending class in "safe" rooms, with double-thick walls. Perseverance was to become a hallmark of Dr. Zoghbi's character, and be instrumental to the achievements of this internationally renowned child neurologist and molecular geneticist⎯notably, the discovery of the gene responsible for Rett syndrome.
Forced by the escalating war in Lebanon to complete her medical studies in the States, Dr. Zoghbi received her MD from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1979. She joined the pediatric residency program at the Baylor College of Medicine and, during a rotation in neurology, became "fascinated by the brain." A three-year residency/fellowship program in pediatric neurology followed, in 1982, at Baylor.
Intending to become a pediatric clinician, an encounter with a five-year-old girl at Texas Children's Hospital and an article on Rett syndrome in the Annals of Neurology redirected Dr. Zoghbi's professional path. Realizing that solving the problem of this mysterious disease would require research training, Dr. Zoghbi went back to school, in molecular genetics. Rett syndrome, would have to wait, however, as too little data was available at the time to make it the launch point of her new career. Instead, she focused on spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a crippling, neurodegenerative disease that affects balance and coordination. In 1988, she set up her own laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine, and began a close collaboration with Dr. Harry Orr of the University of Minnesota, who was also working on SCA1. Astonishingly, in 1993, both cloned the SCA1 gen
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The Vilcek Foundation