The Brain Prize 2020 is awarded to Professor Huda Zoghbi and Sir Adrian Bird. They have mapped Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that primarily affects girls during their early childhood. Their research also gives a unique insight into the epigenetics and overturns previous understanding, indicating that neurological developmental disorders are not necessarily irreversible.
Professor Richard Morris, Chair of the prize’s Selection Committee, explains the reasoning behind the award:
‘The Brain Prize 2020 is awarded to Professor Huda Zoghbi and Sir Adrian Bird for their fundamental and pioneering work on Rett syndrome. Their work established the importance of epigenetic regulation in both brain development and the maintenance of normal adult brain function. It also points to novel opportunities for treatment of this and other neurodevelopmental disorders.’
Jan Egebjerg, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation, which is celebrating 10 years of The Brain Prize, stresses the significance of this new breakthrough in the field of brain research:
‘The brain is incredibly complex and, therefore, a great many of its basic mechanisms – for instance, when it comes to disease – are still uncharted territory. Brain disorders are a huge burden – to the individual and society alike. So, it’s vital that we give a boost to brain research. Above all, this means giving research more money. But it’s also important that we honour the researchers who often dedicate their entire careers to uncovering new territory and to delivering the greatest advances in brain research. These are some of the aims of The Brain Prize,’ he says.
You can read the full press release on The Brain Prize website.
About Professor Huda Zoghbi
Huda Zoghbi is a Lebanese-born American professor of genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. Among other things, she identified the gene that causes Rett syndrome.
About Sir Adrian Bird
Sir Adrian Bird is a professor of genetics at Edinburgh University, where he has spent most of his career. He is described as a pioneer of epigenetics, and he designed, among other things, the first mouse model of Rett syndrome.
The Brain Prize is the world’s largest prize for brain research is awarded once a year to one or more researchers who have made an unprecedented contribution to international brain research. This includes research into health and diseases of all aspects of the brain, and in all disciplines – from basic neuroscience to applied clinical research. The prize is awarded by the Lundbeck Foundation and accompanied by a monetary award of DKK 10 million. The Brain Prize celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2020.