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ASHG Announces 2013 Award Recipients

 

 

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) congratulates the 2013 recipients of the Society’s four prestigious prizes in human genetics – the William Allan Award, the Curt Stern Award, the McKusick Leadership Award, and the ASHG Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education.

 

The 2013 ASHG Awards will be presented to this year’s recipients at the 63rd ASHG Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, October 22-26, 2013. Descriptions of this year’s honorees are included below:

William Allan Award
Curt Stern Award
Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award
Excellence in Human Genetics Education Award

 

William Allan Award

Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D.

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Medicine, Pediatrics and Molecular Biology and Genetics and Department of Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, as the 2013 recipient of the annual William Allan Award.


The Allan Award, which recognizes a scientist for substantial and far-reaching scientific contributions to human genetics, was established in 1961 in memory of William Allan, M.D. (1881 to 1943), one of the first American physicians to conduct extensive research on human genetics and hereditary diseases. Dr. Chakravarti will receive his award, which will include an engraved medal and cash prize, on Friday, October 25, during ASHG’s 63rd annual meeting in Boston and will present his William Allan Award address immediately thereafter.


Dr. Chakravarti’s many contributions to human genetics range from population and statistical genetics to the genetics of complex disease. In addition to developing several critical genomics methods that have been adopted by scientists worldwide, Dr. Chakravarti played a crucial role in the identification of the gene mutation associated with cystic fibrosis and discovered a common variant associated with susceptibility to autism. He also pioneered linkage disequilibrium mapping to identify a recombination hotspots in hemoglobinopathies and mapped the key genes and non-coding mutations responsible for Hirschsprung disease.

A member of the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Chakravarti chaired the third 5-year Human Genome Project plan from 1997 to 2000 as a member of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s advisory council. Dr. Chakravarti, who helped to design the 1000 Genomes Project population genetics sampling plan, played a crucial leadership role in the International HapMap Projects.

Since 1995, he has been co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genome Research and is a member of the editorial boards of Current Biology, Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics and the European Journal of Human Genetics.

The Allan Award also recognizes Dr. Chakravarti’s long-standing service to ASHG as a board member, president and mentor to many members of the society.

 

Press Release [PDF]

Presentation

Past Winners

 

Curt Stern Award

John V. Moran, Ph.D.

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named John V. Moran, Ph.D., Professor of Human Genetics and Professor of Internal Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan, as the 2013 recipient of the Curt Stern Award.

This annual award, named in honor of the late pioneering geneticist Curt Stern, Ph.D., recognizes researchers who have made significant scientific contributions during the past decade. ASHG will present the award, which will include a crystal plaque and cash prize, on Saturday, October 26, during the organization’s 63rd annual meeting in Boston.

Dr. Moran, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, has been a leader in research on genome instability and the biology of DNA sequences that can change their position in the genome, creating or reversing mutations and altering the genome’s size. Among his accomplishments is the discovery that processed pseudogenes are formed in the genome by the reverse transcriptase enzyme for the mobile DNA element referred to as L1. He developed the cell culture assay used in this research.

His finding that the L1 insertion can lead to deletions in the genome has been confirmed by human genome analysis as well as numerous other studies, demonstrating the importance of retrotransposition in shaping the human genome through evolutionary time, and showing that these L1 insertions occur much more frequently than previously thought.

The Curt Stern Award also recognizes Dr. Moran’s mentorship of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers as well ask his stalwart support of and service to ASHG.

 

Press Release [PDF]

Presentation

Past Winners

 

Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award

Kurt Hirschhorn, M.D.

 

Rochelle Hirschhorn, M.D.

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named Kurt Hirschhorn, M.D., and Rochelle Hirschhorn, M.D., as the recipients of the 2013 Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award.

Dr. Kurt Hirschhorn is Professorial Lecturer of Pediatric Human Genetics, Professorial Lecturer of Genetics and Genomics Sciences and Professorial Lecturer of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Rochelle Hirschhorn is Research Professor and

Professor Emerita of Medicine, Cell Biology and Pediatrics in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
 

This award, named in honor of the late Victor A. McKusick, M.D., recognizes individuals whose professional achievements have fostered and enriched the development of human genetics.

“The enduring leadership and vision provided by the Drs. Hirschhorn have helped human genetics to flourish and assimilate into the broader context of science, medicine and health,” said Joseph D. McInerney, Executive Vice President of ASHG. “They also have helped to improve awareness and understanding of human genetics among policymakers and the general public.”

ASGHG will present the McKusick Award to Drs. Hirschhorn, who are Institute of Medicine members and founding members of the American College of Medical Genetics, on Saturday, October 26, at the organization’s 63rd annual meeting in Boston.

The McKusick Award honors the combined contributions of Drs. Hirschhorn, who have been members of ASHG for over 40 years and have served in many society leadership positions, including president and member on the Board of Directors and Editorial Board.

In 2010, Rochelle Hirschhorn was honored with the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Master Scientist Award. Dr. Hirschhorn, who was the center’s Chief of the Division of Medical Genetics for 24 years, has been a leader and role model in the advancement of women in medicine and genetics. In 1986, she was the first woman elected to the Interurban Clinical Club, founded in 1905, and soon was elected president of the group.


Her major discoveries include delineating the genetic structure and pathophysiology of adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency, an autosomal recessive metabolic disorder that causes immunodeficiency. She also described the phenomenon of reverse mutations as a cause of “self-cure” in ADA deficient patients and predicted the utility of gene therapy for ADA deficiency.

Kurt Hirschhorn has received multiple awards in genetics and pediatrics, including ASHG’s Allan Award and Excellence in Education Award, the March of Dimes’ Colonel Sanders Lifetime Achievement award and the Howland Award in Pediatrics. At Mount Sinai School of Medicine, he was the Chief of one of the first Divisions of Genetics for eight years and Chair of Pediatrics for 18 years. In addition to serving as a mentor to numerous trainees and faculty, he helped establish the first Masters level genetic counseling program at Sarah Lawrence College.


His major scientific achievements include discovery, characterization and application of the mixed-lymphocyte reaction and the early and sustained use of cytogenetics to discover and describe multiple human chromosomal disorders including the Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, also called the 4p- syndrome.

 

Drs. Hirschhorn, who have been married for over 60 years, have co-authored over 20 papers or chapters published during 1959 to 2011.
 

Press Release [PDF]

Presentation

Past Winners

 

Excellence in Human Genetics Education Award

Jessica G. Davis, M.D.

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named Jessica G. Davis, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College and Associate Attending Pediatrician at both New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, as the 2013 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education.

The ASHG award recognizes an individual for contributions of exceptional quality and great importance to human genetics internationally. Awardees have had long-standing involvement in genetics education, contributions in more than one area, and contributions of substantive influence on individuals and/or organizations. Dr. Davis will receive her award on Friday, October 25, during the ASHG 2013 annual meeting in Boston and will present her award address immediately thereafter.

“Long before ASHG officially acknowledged the high value of education, Dr. Davis' name was synonymous with education in medical and human genetics,” said Roberta A. Pagon, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, who helped to nominate Dr. Davis for the award.

“Her passion for disseminating information about human genetics and the role of medical genetics in patient care is evident in her many accomplishments, which include the development of the Sarah Lawrence genetic counseling training program and, hence, the indispensable field of genetic counseling training; directing outreach programs in NY State-Long Island for community-based clinicians; and teaching genetics to high school teachers at the DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories.

Dr. Pagon added, "Dr. Davis' contributions to education in human genetics reflect the hands-on, just-get-started approach of the days when formal programs and funding for education in genetics were almost non-existent. It was enterprising, dedicated, and caring educators like Dr. Davis who laid the foundation for the educational efforts that we take for granted today.”

Weill Cornell Medical College recognized Dr. Davis with its annual Award for Teaching Excellence in 2000.
 

Press Release [PDF]

Presentation

Past Winners

 

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