Professor Nancy S. Wexler from Columbia University and the Hereditary Disease Foundation, accepted her award and presented a lecture, “Mendel, Muller, Morgan, Mom, and me: an ever expanding voyage of discovery” during a ceremony on April 25, 2016.
Wexler, whose mother was a biologist and died of Huntington’s disease, became known as a gene hunter. Starting in 1979, she led research teams to Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, home to the world’s largest family with Huntington’s disease, to identify the HD genetic marker. In 1983 they found a DNA marker associated with the neighborhood of the HD gene. An international collaboration of more than 100 scientists began a search to find the HD gene itself, and a decade later, it was found. Wexler is now a self-proclaimed cure hunter on a quest to find treatments and cures for Huntington’s disease and related neurological disorders.