less than 1 minute read

Huntington Disease

The Quest For The Huntington Disease Gene

The quest for the Huntington disease gene was made possible by a new era in medicine and biology. The researcher who found the first genetic marker for the disease used a novel scientific approach. Much of the credit for the discovery of the gene belongs to Nancy Wexler, a American clinical psychologist who organized and championed the gene hunt with unflagging enthusiasm, in part due to the fact that she had a positive family history of the disease.

In 1968, at the age of 23, Nancy and her sister, Alice, learned from their father, Milton Wexler, that their mother had been diagnosed with Huntington disease. With their mother's diagnosis, Nancy and Alice had a 50% risk of developing the disease themselves. Milton Wexler, a lawyer and psychoanalyst, later founded the Hereditary Disease Foundation. The foundation worked to attract scientists to the study Huntington disease. It formed a board of scientific advisors, held conferences, and funded workshops particularly for younger scientists. It successfully urged Congress to appropriate money for the study of the disease. Nancy Wexler, a graduate student, became increasingly involved in her father's foundation and eventually became president.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Heterodyne to Hydrazoic acidHuntington Disease - History, Symptoms, Genetic Defect Responsible For Disease, The Quest For The Huntington Disease Gene