Huda Y. Zoghbi, MD

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Huda Zoghbi

Research-in-Chief

Huda Y. Zoghbi, MD is an internationally renowned neurogeneticist and serves as Research-in-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital. She is the founding director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children’s. She also is an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology, Neuroscience and Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM).

Born and raised in Lebanon, Dr. Zoghbi received her undergraduate degree in biology from the American University of Beirut and began medical school there in 1975. The civil war in Lebanon broke out during her first year of studies. After she spent a semester living in the basement of the university to stay safe, Dr. Zoghbi moved to the United States, where she transferred to Nashville’s Meharry Medical College.

Dr. Zoghbi completed a pediatric residency as well as a residency in pediatric neurology at BCM in 1985. Seeing children with incurable, inherited neurological diseases and not being able to provide them with hope piqued her interest in research and led her to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular genetics under the mentorship of the preeminent geneticist Dr. Arthur Beaudet. She joined BCM’s faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1988. Dr. Zoghbi’s research spans neurodevelopment to neurodegeneration, and has led to key discoveries in Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 1, Rett syndrome, Bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2010, Dr. Zoghbi founded the Duncan NRI at Texas Children’s Hospital to develop treatments for brain disorders, which impact one billion people, including 300 million children. Under her leadership, the Duncan NRI has grown to over 30 principal investigators and 300 research trainees with a track record of groundbreaking discoveries, including:

  • 60+ genetic mutations that underlie neurological diseases — 10 % of all those known worldwide.
  • A master gene that holds the key not only to a rare pediatric neurological disorder, but also to adult-onset diseases like Parkinson’s.
  • The use of an established cancer drug to treat forms of severe childhood epilepsy.
  • A neural circuit in the brain that controls addiction and eating disorders.

Among Dr. Zoghbi’s many honors and awards are:

  • The Brain Prize 2020, awarded by the Lundbeck Foundation.
  • American Society of Human Genetics’ Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award.
  • National Order of the Cedar, Knight grade by Lebanese President General Michel Aoun.
  • The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
  • The Canada Gairdner International Award.
  • The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine.
  • Honorary degrees from Yale University, Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

She is a trustee of the American University of Beirut, Rice University, and The Rockefeller University and also is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.