Huda Zoghbi, Baylor College of Medicine, USA
Huda Zoghbi is Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, Neuroscience, and Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and serves as an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is also the founding Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Zoghbi’s interests range from neurodevelopment to neurodegeneration. Her discovery (with Harry Orr) that Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 1 is caused by expansion of a polyglutamine tract and that such expansion leads to accumulation of the mutant protein in neurons has had profound ramifications since many late-onset neurological disorders involve similar accumulations of disease-driving proteins. Zoghbi’s work in neurodevelopment led to the discovery of the gene Math1/Atoh1 and to showing that it governs the development of several components of the proprioceptive, balance, hearing, vestibular, and breathing pathways. Zoghbi’s group also discovered that mutations in MECP2 cause the postnatal neurological disorder Rett syndrome and revealed the importance of this gene for various neuropsychiatric features. Zoghbi trained many scientists and physician-scientists and is a member of several professional organizations and boards. Among Dr. Zoghbi’s recent honors are the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize from Rockefeller University, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, and the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine. In 2000 she was elected to the Institute of Medicine, and in 2004 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.