Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist who has worked on the genetic underpinnings of rare neurological diseases and advanced our understanding of brain disorders, has been selected to receive the tenth annual Pearl Meister Greengard Prize — one of the world’s preeminent honors recognizing outstanding achievements by women in science. Zoghbi was chosen by a selection committee of ten members, including five Nobel laureates and two recipients of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Zoghbi’s work on Rett Syndrome and spinocerebellar ataxia Type 1, rare brain disorders, have also significantly advancing research of more common conditions including childhood disorders such as autism, and adult-onset neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. She is a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas; Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize was founded by Paul Greengard, a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and Vincent Astor Professor at The Rockefeller University, and his wife, celebrated Brooklyn sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. von Rydingsvard, whose most recent installation, Ona, was just unveiled at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, will present the prize on December 5, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. on the Rockefeller campus.
“Dr. Zoghbi exemplifies the spirit of the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize,” says Greengard. “She is a trailblazing scientist whose work — in a field often dominated by men — stands to revolutionize the way we approach and treat some of the most complex and devastating diseases of our time. Despite considerable progress, women in the sciences still experience discrimination, and role models like Dr. Zoghbi are inspiring a proud new generation of women scientists.”
Named after Greengard’s mother, who died during his birth, the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize was established to spotlight the extraordinary and often unsung achievements of women scientists, and to inspire young women’s pursuit of scientific careers. Greengard and von Rydingsvard created the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize in 2003, donating the monetary share of his Nobel to seed the prize, which carries a $100,000 honorarium. Since its inception, two winners, Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, have subsequently won the Nobel Prize.
“When I learned the story behind the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, I got goose bumps,” Zoghbi says. “It’s such an honor to receive this award, not only because I am a great admirer of Dr. Greengard, but because it’s so important to draw attention to the achievements of women in science. The recognition helps inspire young women to believe that they too can succeed in these fields.”