Hereditary Disease Foundation

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The Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF) aims to cure genetic disorders by supporting basic biomedical research.[1]


Nancy Wexler; current president of the HDF

In 1968, after experiencing Huntington's disease (HD) in his wife's family, Dr. Milton Wexler was inspired to start the Hereditary Disease Foundation, with the aim of curing genetic illnesses by coordinating and supporting research.[1] At a workshop held by the HDF in 1979, participants proposed to map the human genome and find a marker for the gene which causes HD. The HDF, together with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and Dr. Wexler's daughter, Nancy Wexler, organized the US–Venezuela Huntington's Disease Collaborative Research Project. This project studied a kindred with an unusually high prevalence of HD. In 1983 a marker for gene was found, and in the next decade, with further HDF involvement the exact gene (Huntingtin) was found. A lot of techniques developed in finding the Huntingtin gene were used to advance the Human Genome Project.[2][3] The Huntingtin gene was also one of the first disease genes to be found, its discovery and debates raised have provided the framework for genetic testing, counselling and possible therapies for other genetic diseases that can be genetically tested.


As of 2009, Nancy Wexler is the foundation's president.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Hereditary Disease Foundation – About Us". Hereditary disease foundation. 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  2. ^ Young AB (October 2009). "Four decades of neurodegenerative disease research: How far we have come!". J. Neurosci. 29 (41): 12722–8. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3767-09.2009. PMC 2807668. PMID 19828782. 
  3. ^ MacDonald, M (March 1993). "A novel gene containing a trinucleotide repeat that is expanded and unstable on Huntington's disease chromosomes. The Huntington's Disease Collaborative Research Group". Cell 72 (6): 971–83. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(93)90585-E. PMID 8458085.