Earlier this week, geneticist and Dana Alliance member Nancy Wexler, Ph.D., was featured in a segment on New York City’s local news channel, NY1. As Higgins Professor of Neuropsychology at Columbia University and president of the Hereditary Disease Foundation, Wexler is a pioneer in the race to find a cure for Huntington’s disease (HD).
The fatal, genetic disease causes a painful deterioration of physical and mental abilities, due to the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. According to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, “HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faculty gene.”
Having lost five immediate family members to the disease, Wexler draws motivation for her ongoing research from personal ties. In the broadcasted interview, Wexler tells reporter Budd Mishkin that her father, Milton Wexler, founded the Hereditary Disease Foundation after her mother was diagnosed with the disease in 1968. “Most of my friends feel the clock ticking,” Wexler tells Mishkin, “So if I can get up in the morning and even a little tiny bit make a difference in their lives or my life or my family’s life, then that motivates me.”
– Seimi Rurup