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Baylor College of Medicine News

Bellen honored by Gill Center at Indiana University Bloomington

Dr. Hugo Bellen, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, has been awarded the 2012 Gill Distinguished Award from the Indiana University’s Linda and Jack Gill Center for Biomolecular Science.

He was honored with a $25,000 award and plaque at the annual Gill Symposium Thursday, Sept. 27, where he also presented a lecture on "Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS)."

Bellen is March of Dimes Professor, director of the Program in Developmental Biology and Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.

He also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital.

Open to collaborations

Colleagues at Indiana lauded his ingenuity and willingness to collaborate.

"Over the last decade, Dr. Hugo Bellen has applied unparalleled scientific creativity and a nearly inhuman level of energy into turning the humble fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, into a powerful model for studying several human neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington's and Lou Gehrig's disease," said Dr. Justin P. Kumar, associate professor of biology at IU Bloomington in a released statement. "His efforts, along with those of past and present members of his research group, have made a palpable impact on our understanding of human disease and the ongoing search for cures."

Kumar said Bellen's generosity and sense of community are "legendary," demonstrated by the countless number of large-scale projects he has initiated on behalf of the community of researchers that uses the fruit fly as a model system for understanding development and physiology. The collection of tools he has created and made fully available to colleagues around the world has driven the science forward.

Credit to BCM

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the NRI and a long-time colleague of Bellen’s, said his willingness to mentor students and young faculty makes him a credit to BCM and to the NRI.

“Hugo has also been a critical partner when founding the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute He gave me input on many of the cores, he helped us recruit top faculty, and now he serves as a mentor and intellectual resource to many of the faculty. Beyond the students and faculty, Hugo has been instrumental in educating the Houston community about the research at NRI and the power of the fruit fly for medical research."