July 14, 2022 — Sarah Hernandez, PhD, has been named Director of Research Programs at the Hereditary Disease Foundation, which funds research to find treatments and cures for Huntington’s disease. Dr. Hernandez will oversee the Foundation’s scientific research portfolio and work closely with its Scientific Advisory Board to identify the most promising research and make recommendations for funding.

Dr. Hernandez learned at a young age that her family was affected by Huntington’s disease, motivating her to learn more and inspiring her to become a scientist. In 2015, she received a PhD in Biology and Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. For her postdoctoral studies, she joined the lab of renowned Huntington’s disease scientist Leslie Thompson, PhD, at the University of California, Irvine and Chair-Elect, Hereditary Disease Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. There she worked on understanding the molecular consequences of Huntington’s disease to cells of the brain using stem cells and fruit flies. For her work, Sarah has received funding from the Hereditary Disease Foundation, the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, and the Cure Huntington’s Disease Initiative (CHDI). In 2021, she was honored as the recipient of the Hereditary Disease Foundation Nancy S. Wexler Young Investigator Prize, presented to a researcher whose work represents the highest caliber of excellence, diligence, and creative thinking. Additionally, Sarah is an editor for HDBuzz, writing articles about Huntington’s disease-related science and research news in plain language for the patient community.

 

Hereditary Disease Foundation

The Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF) facilitates collaborative and innovative scientific research to further the understanding of Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that strikes in early- to mid-adulthood, destroying brain cells and bringing on severe and progressive declines in personality, cognitive ability, and mobility. As a disease caused by a mistake on a single gene, Huntington’s disease serves as an ideal model for understanding other brain disorders. Research organized by the Foundation led to the discovery of the genetic marker for Huntington’s disease in 1983. HDF organized and funded a decade-long international collaboration of over 100 scientists who discovered the gene that causes Huntington’s in 1993. This work played an important role in the development of the Human Genome Project.