Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor to host 2017 Gruber Genetics Prize ceremony, lecture

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Baylor College of Medicine will host the 2017 Gruber Genetics Prize ceremony honoring geneticist Dr. Stephen J. Elledge. He is being recognized for his discoveries concerning the molecular mechanisms of the DNA-damage response pathway. Part of his groundbreaking work took place while he was a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine.

Elledge currently is the Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics and Medicine in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and in the Division of Genetics at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The ceremony will take place Tuesday, Oct. 3, in Cullen Auditorium located at One Baylor Plaza from noon to 1:00 p.m. Elledge will present a lecture titled,Microgenetics: What We Can Learn from Bits of Genes.”

His work focuses on the DNA-damage response pathway, a complex molecular process that cells of living organisms use to detect and repair the constant attacks on their DNA from endogenous and exogenous sources. If such repairs aren’t made, the alterations to the DNA can lead to the development of cancer and other diseases. Working first with yeast and then with mammalian cells, Elledge discovered a family of genes that become activated when DNA is damaged or fails to copy itself properly. He then went on to discover and describe the intricate sequence of molecular activity that a cell uses not only to detect assaults on its DNA but also to marshal its defenses to repair the damage.

In addition, Elledge has been a leader in inventing various genetic technologies, including genome-wide genetic screens that are used in the development of targeted therapies for cancer and other disorders.

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor of neuroscience at Baylor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is chair of the Selection Advisory Board to the Prize.

“His accomplishments are as broad as they are deep,” said Zoghbi, who also is the director of the Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital. “Few scientists have made such surprising and important discoveries with such metronomic regularity. We’re honored to be awarding him with the Gruber Genetics Prize and to be hosting the ceremony and lecture at Baylor College of Medicine.”

Zoghbi herself is the 2011 awardee of the Gruber Neuroscience Prize.

The Gruber Foundation honors individuals in the fields of Cosmology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Justice and Women's Rights whose groundbreaking work provides new models that inspire and enable fundamental shifts in knowledge and culture.

Each prize carries a gold medal and a prize of $500,000.

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