2021 Gruber Neuroscience Prize

Christine Petit, MD, PhD, 73, and Christopher A. Walsh, MD, PhD, 63, have been pioneers in elucidating the genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie human neurodevelopmental hereditary disorders. Both took the innovative—and novel at the time—approach of studying the genomes of geographically isolated consanguineous families to identify and map the genes responsible for hereditary hearing loss and malformations of the cerebral cortex. Then, using animal models and laboratory techniques they created themselves, they described how the expression of these genes affect the brain’s processing of sound and early development. Their research has profoundly transformed our understanding of how the human brain is formed and functions.