Hereditary Disease Foundation Gala Raises $900,000 for Huntington’s Research

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Sarah Tabrizi

The Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF) raised $900,000 to fund research into Huntington’s disease and other brain disorders during its Nov. 6 “Celebration of 50 Years of Discovery” symposium and gala at New York’s Metropolitan Club.

The event included a scientific symposium and a dinner and award ceremony, where winners of this year’s prizes received their accolades.

Among the grant winners was Sarah Tabrizi, who received the 2017 Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science.

“I am honored to receive this award, and I am deeply grateful to the Hereditary Disease Foundation and to the Gehry family for their support of research that seeks to improve the lives of people with hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s disease,” she said.

Tabrizi is the co-founder and director of the Huntington’s Disease Centre (HDC) at the University College London Institute of Neurology. She and professor Gillian Bates — who won the Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize in 2012 for developing the first mouse model of Huntington’s — established the HDC in 2016.

“Dr. Tabrizi has channeled her passion for scientific research into discovering ways to prevent or reverse Huntington’s disease,” Dr. Nancy S. Wexler, president of the HDF, said in a press release. “She and her superb global team are the principal investigators for the world’s first gene silencing trial in Huntington’s disease, begun in 2015 and sponsored by Ionis Pharmaceuticals.”

HDF founding trustees Frank and Berta Gehry received the 2017 Milton Wexler Prize for their dedication to the foundation over the years.

The couple established the annual $100,000 Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize to honor the memory of Frank’s daughter, Leslie. The money will support a researcher who “embodies qualities of inventiveness and imagination in science.”

Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), served as this year’s keynote speaker.

Since its establishment, the New York-based HDF has funded scientific projects in many areas of Huntington’s research, including the 1983 discovery of the genetic marker for Huntington’s. Behind the discovery of the Huntington’s gene, in 1993 was a team of more than 100 researchers who formed part of a decade-long international collaboration partially funded by the HDF. Identifying this gene was also critical in developing the Human Genome Project.