FNIHFormer GSA Board member Jeannie T. Lee, who also co-chairs The Allied Genetics Conference (TAGC) Coordinating Committee, has been named as recipient of the 2016 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences. The award, which is bestowed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), recognizes Lee’s work in uncovering the functions of long, noncoding RNA (lncRNA) in epigenetic regulation.

The Lurie Prize honors “outstanding achievement by a promising scientist age 52 or younger” and includes a $100,000 honorarium, endowed by FNIH Board member Ann Lurie. Among the past recipients of the prize is GSA member Jennifer Doudna, who will be a keynote speaker at TAGC.


Jeannie LeeJeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD
HHMI Investigator;
Professor of Genetics and Pathology
Harvard Medical School;
Molecular Biologist
Massachusetts General Hospital; and
Co-Director, Harvard Epigenetics Initiative

GSA Board of Directors, 2011–2013
Co-Chair, TAGC Coordinating Committee, 2013–2016
Chair, GSA Conferences Committee, 2012–2013
GENETICS Author, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009


According to the press release announcing the prize,

[Lee’s] work has accelerated the understanding of mechanisms driving epigenetic regulation, which involves changes in gene function without changing the DNA sequence. Specifically, Dr. Lee’s work investigates how a whole sex chromosome can be shut down and how “X-chromosome inactivation” can be leveraged to treat congenital diseases, such as Rett, CDKL5 and Fragile X Syndromes in addition to numerous cancers such as breast, ovarian, blood, intestinal and male germ cell tumors where there is often an extra x-chromosomal copy.

Her pioneering work on X-inactivation and lncRNA has important implications for many types of epigenetic therapies. Her discoveries shed light on the complex interplay between lncRNA and general biological processes. The discoveries are changing the way we think about how specific genes can be turned on and off precisely with respect to time and location. Her work is informing us of how complex human diseases arise and might eventually be cured.

Lee was quoted as saying “I am truly honored to receive the 2016 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences and to be recognized for the achievements we have made using the model of X chromosome inactivation. I hope that we will one day be able to translate these discoveries into treatment for a multitude of diseases.” She will receive the prize at the FNIH Award Ceremony on May 18, 2016.


Additional Information:

Adam Fagen was formerly Executive Director of the Genetics Society of America.

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