Nancy Wexler, president of the Hereditary Disease Foundation and Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, is a leading geneticist and neuropsychologist whose research led to the identification of the Huntington’s disease gene. She speaks at Indiana University Bloomington as the inaugural recipient of the Hermann J. Muller Award for Contributions to Our Understanding of Genes and Society.
A highly recognized expert in her field, Wexler is internationally known for her role in the discovery of the location of the gene that causes Huntington's disease. Her research has also led to the discovery of the genes responsible for familial Alzheimer's disease, kidney cancer, two types of neurofibromatosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dwarfism.
The title of Wexler's lecture is "Mendel, Muller, Morgan, Mom and Me: An ever-expanding voyage of discovery." It discusses in part Muller’s research in fruit flies at IU, which proved that genes reside in specific homes on chromosomes and that their inheritance is governed by a series of key principles first described by Austrian scientist Gregor Mendel in 1866.
The Muller award and lecture series are intended to recognize luminary international geneticists whose discoveries, like Muller's, have made or are making a significant impact on the field of genetics and society
The award is named in honor of Hermann J. Muller, who won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine while serving on the IU faculty from 1945 to 1964. Regarded as one of history's greatest geneticists, Muller greatly expanded understanding on the structure of genes, how they work and how they are modified by mutation. He was also interested in the role of genetics in society.