Yale Scientist First Recipient of $100,000 Rothberg Award from Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance

Yale School of Medicine faculty member and noted genetics researcher Tian Xu is the first recipient of a $100,000 Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance Rothberg Award for Courage in Research.

An associate professor of genetics and assistant investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Xu was recognized for his genetic studies that have advanced knowledge toward finding a cure for tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).

TSC is a genetic disorder that leads to benign tumors in multiple organs, including the brain, kidneys, heart, eyes and lungs. Cognitive and neurobehavioral problems are also common. TSC is estimated to affect nearly 50,000 people in the United States and more than one million worldwide. The Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance is the only national voluntary health organization dedicated to finding a cure for tuberous sclerosis complex and improving the lives of those affected.

Up to four Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance Rothberg Awards for Courage in Research will be presented each year for scientific excellence.

“These awards are a complement to the TS Alliance’s research grant award program, which recently announced $1.7 million in research grants,” reports TS Alliance President and CEO Michael Coburn. Xu’s award is part of that million-dollar initiative.

Xu was recognized in part for recently published findings with implications for the development of treatments for TSC. In a scientific study that appeared in the journal Cell, Xu and colleagues describe important links between TSC1 and TSC2 in the insulin-signaling pathway in the Drosophila (fruit fly), an organismal model for studying the disease. This work provides promise that further study of the insulin signaling pathway may lead to the development of treatments for TSC lesions.

The Rothberg Award for Courage in Research is made possible through a special research fund established by Jonathan Rothberg, founder and chief executive officer of the New Haven, Connecticut-based biotechnology company CuraGen, and his wife Bonnie Gould Rothberg, M.D., and the Rothberg family. The Rothbergs are actively involved in the development of accelerated research for tuberous sclerosis complex. Bonnie Gould Rothberg received her M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine in 1994 and Jonathan Rothberg received his M.S. and MPH degrees in biology at Yale in 1987 and his Ph.D. in biology from Yale in 1991.

For further information about the Rothberg Courage Awards, the TS Alliance or tuberous sclerosis complex, please contact the organization at 800-225-6872; send an e-mail to beth.michaels@tsalliance.org; or send a letter to 801 Roeder Road, Suite 750, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. More information is also available on the organization’s Web site at www.tsalliance.org.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326