Lupski receives honorary degree from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's graduate school

June 1, 2011

Dr. Jim Lupski accepting honorary degree certificate
Dr. Jim Lupski accepting honorary degree certificate

Genetics pioneer Dr. Jim Lupski has received countless awards and accolades for his work in human genetics. On May 1, he added one more – an honorary Doctor of Science (D. Sc.; honoris causa) degree from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Watson School of Biological Sciences, an institution named for renowned geneticist and co-discoverer of the DNA double helix Dr. James Watson.

Lupski, professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM, received his honorary degree for his pioneering work in genomic disorders and human genomics, including the identification of the chromosome 17 duplication responsible for the majority of patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome.

The conferring citation read: "Jim is an accomplished scientist who has earned national distinction for his groundbreaking work in ‘genomic disorders,' a term he coined. Nearly two decades ago, he identified the chromosome 17p12 duplication in the nerve disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome type 1A (CMT1A), a disease he himself is afflicted with. In addition, the pioneering work by Jim in identifying a disease gene in himself and family members using whole genome sequencing provided a glimpse into the future of the plethora of benefits yet unrealized from the Human Genome Project. To date, autism, schizophrenia and obesity are included in the dozens of different diseases that are genomic disorders. A physician-scientist, Dr. Lupski has deftly interwoven scientific research with the practice of medicine. We honor him today for his insight and body of work illuminating the importance of genomic disorders and the mechanisms underlying many human diseases."

BCM's vice chair of molecular and human genetics, Lupski also delivered the commencement address to the Ph.D. graduates. In the address, Lupski urged the graduates: "Do not be bound by the dogma of the previous generations nor even that of your own generation. Do lots of experiments, it is what distinguishes us as scientists from any other profession. Our truths are empirically based. Let your experiments and those of others guide your thinking."