Annu Rev Med 2012 ;63:1-22
Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.
My mother, Leonore, was diagnosed with Huntington's disease (HD) in 1968 at age 53. I was 23, my sister Alice 26, and our father, Milton Wexler, 60 years old. The same year, our father created the Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF), dedicated to finding treatments and cures for HD. HD is an autosomal dominant, neurodegenerative disorder. Alice and I each have a 50% chance of inheriting and dying from the disorder. Over the past 43 years, we have been proud to change the face of science. Through Milton Wexler Interdisciplinary Workshops, judicious funding, and focusing on innovation and creativity, the HDF is an integral partner in key discoveries. The HDF recruited and supported >100 scientists worldwide who worked together as the Huntington's Disease Collaborative Research Group in a successful ten-year search for the HD gene. We found a DNA marker for the HD gene in 1983-the first marker to be found when the chromosomal location was unknown. We isolated the HD gene itself a decade later. These breakthroughs helped launch the Human Genome Project. We supported creating the first mouse model of HD and many other model systems. Currently, we focus on gene silencing, among other approaches, to create new treatments and cures.