Neuroscientist from Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine Awarded World’s Largest Neuroscience Prize

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Lundbeck Foundation awards Brain Prize to Huda Zoghbi, M.D., for Pioneering Research on Rett syndrome

HOUSTON (Nov. 4, 2021)

Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine are proud to announce that Huda Zoghbi, M.D., Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, accepted the Lundbeck Foundation Brain Prize, the largest prize for neuroscience in the world, together with co-recipient Sir Adrian Bird of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, at a recent awards ceremony in Copenhagen. She received this award for her role in discovering a gene mutation that causes Rett syndrome and for establishing the importance of epigenetic regulation in both brain development and the maintenance of normal adult brain function. These discoveries also point to novel opportunities for treatment of this and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Formerly known as the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize, the annual award recognizes highly original and influential advances in any area of brain research. The prize, worth over $1.5 million, is awarded to one or more scientists who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions in their field. Brain Prize winners are decided by a panel of the world’s top neurological researchers after nomination by peers.

While the Lundbeck Foundation awarded the Brain Prize to Dr. Zoghbi and Sir Adrian Bird in 2020, COVID-19 restrictions delayed the award ceremony to this month. Drs. Zoghbi and Bird accepted the award during an awards ceremony in Copenhagen presided over by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. For more than three decades, Drs. Zoghbi’s and Bird’s cumulative and pioneering research has led to an increased understanding of the disorder and has brought patient families hope that there might one day be a treatment for Rett syndrome, a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder primarily affecting girls.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Brain Prize,” said Dr. Zoghbi, who also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. “I share this with all my trainees, past and present, who have worked so hard to advance research on Rett syndrome. I am grateful to the Lundbeck Foundation for this prize and what it means for our ability to continue pushing the boundaries of discovery to help people with Rett syndrome and MECP2 duplication disorder.”

In 1983, Dr. Zoghbi began studying Rett syndrome and, more than 15 years later in 1999, she identified the gene mutation that causes the disorder. This monumental discovery created a path to developing a diagnostic genetic test, allowing early and accurate diagnosis of Rett syndrome. Her research revealed that Rett syndrome is caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene that encodes a protein with the same name, MeCP2, which Sir Adrian Bird identified in 1992.

“When we embarked on the journey of opening the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, I knew Dr. Zoghbi and her team would change millions of lives and ultimately change the world,” said Texas Children’s Hospital President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “Dr. Zoghbi is one of the most dedicated and passionate neuroscientists I’ve ever met. Her unmatched commitment to further understanding the causes of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases is only one of the many reasons she deserves this prestigious award.”

Brain Prize 2020 Film

Watch this film about the two prize winners, Dr. Huda Y. Zoghbi, MD and Sir Adrian P. Bird, and their research in Rett Syndrome.


Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute

In 2010, the Duncan NRI was founded with the goal of solving the most devastating neurological and psychiatric conditions. 

Other awards

  • 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 Harvard University, Yale University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School

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For Media: View downloadable hi-res image resources for Dr. Huda Zoghbi and the Brain Prize.

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