Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


May 1st, 2008

This year's Prather Lectures will be delivered by Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D., Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics, Pediatrics, Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  A Pediatric Neurologist, Dr. Zoghbi has discovered the genes mutated in several hereditary neurological diseases. In each case, she has then used her genetic insights as a starting point for elegant cellular and molecular analysis of disease pathogenesis and of normal developmental mechanisms.

In her first lecture ("Rett Syndrome: Insight into an Autism Spectrum Disorder," 8PM Wednesday May 7), she will describe her discovery that MECP2 is mutated in Rett Syndrome, and her work on how this DNA-binding protein regulates brain development.  In her second lecture ("Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1: Complex Balance," noon, Thursday May 8), she will discuss unstable repeat expansions (CAG repeats) that underlie several neurological diseases, and show how these expansions affect interaction of the mutated protein with its native partners, thereby leading to pathology.  Finally, in a lecture entitled "Math1 and the Evolution of Hearing and Balance" (noon, Friday, May 9), she will describe an evolutionarily conserved transcriptional network that, remarkably, controls audition and proprioception in both verbetrates and flies.

Her many contributions to neurology and neuroscience have brought Dr. Zoghbi numerous honors, including election to Institute of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences.