Trustee Huda Zoghbi wins Shaw Prize

Rice trustee Dr. Huda Zoghbi is a co-recipient of this year’s Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine – an international award that recognizes individuals who have achieved a significant breakthrough in academic and scientific research and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind.

Dr. Huda Zoghbi

Dr. Huda Zoghbi

Zoghbi, a professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, will share the $1.2 million prize with Adrian Bird, the Buchanan Professor of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. The award recognizes their discovery of the genes and encoded proteins that are the basis of the developmental disorder Rett syndrome.

Rett syndrome is a form of autism common among girls. In 1999, Zoghbi and her colleagues discovered that the syndrome is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the X-linked gene MECP2, which established it as the first autism spectrum disorder that is largely caused by sporadic gene mutations.

The Shaw Prize is managed and administered by the Hong Kong-based Shaw Prize Foundation, which was established by the late philanthropist Run Run Shaw. The prize will be presented during a ceremony in Hong Kong in September.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, 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. She completed her residency and fellowship training at Baylor and then joined the Baylor faculty. She was elected to the Rice Board of Trustees in 2014.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.