On May 31, The Shaw Prize Foundation in Hong Kong awarded the 2016 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine to pioneering neuroscientist Dr. Huda Y. Zoghbi, professor of molecular and human genetics, pediatrics, and neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
The award was presented jointly to Zoghbi and Dr. Adrian P. Bird, Buchanan Professor of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh, for their groundbreaking discovery of the genes and the encoded proteins associated with Rett syndrome.
“I am humbled to be honored by the esteemed Shaw Prize Foundation,” said Zoghbi. “We will use this support to continue the research into how Rett syndrome affects the brain with the hope that our research will impact future treatment options.”
Rett syndrome is the leading cause of intellectual disabilities in girls, affecting one in 10,000, and is particularly devastating as girls affected by the syndrome develop normally for the first few months of life before a catastrophic decline in neurological capabilities.
The Shaw Prize is an international award established in 2002 designed to foster scientific research. Awarded annually, the Prize honors individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research or applications, and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind.
Zoghbi will receive the award, along with Bird, at a ceremony later this year in Hong Kong. The $1.2 million prize will be shared by Bird and Zoghbi.
Zoghbi’s discovery that mutations in the MEPC2 gene cause this devastating neurological disorder paved the way for the development of a diagnostic genetic test for Rett syndrome.