Pioneering geneticist and neurobiologist Dr. Huda Zoghbi of Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital has been elected to the Rice University Board of Trustees.
She is a professor of neuroscience, pediatrics, molecular and human genetics and neurology at Baylor and founding director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s. She also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
“Huda is an exceptional scientist whose discoveries have benefited research around the world on neurological disorders,” said Bobby Tudor, chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees. “As Rice continues to strengthen its affiliations in the Texas Medical Center, it is a privilege to have such a highly gifted researcher from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital join our board.”
A strong advocate for women in science, Zoghbi is well-known for discovering the gene that causes Rett syndrome, a neurological disease that affects young girls. She also found that this gene has been implicated in autism, intellectual disability and early onset psychosis. She co-discovered the gene responsible for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, a progressive adult-onset neurological disorder. Zoghbi also found the Math1 gene, which plays a significant role in functions like breathing and hearing and in the development of brain tumors. Such discoveries have enabled Zoghbi’s research team and others to gain new insights into several neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases and to begin the search for new treatments for these disorders.
In recognition of her many professional achievements, Zoghbi has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science – all of which are among the highest honors conferred on U.S. scientists.
“I am truly a fan of Rice University, and I am thrilled and honored to join the board of such a fine institution,” Zoghbi said.
A native of Lebanon, Zoghbi has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the American University of Beirut and an M.D. from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. After completing her residency and fellowship training at Baylor College of Medicine, Zoghbi joined the Baylor faculty in 1988.
Among her numerous other prestigious honors are the Bristol Myers-Squibb Neuroscience Distinguished Achievement Award, the Vilcek Prize, the Scolnick Prize from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Neuroscience Prize from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, the Dickson Prize in Medicine, the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize from Rockefeller University, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology and an honorary Doctor of Medical Sciences degree from Yale University.