Newport Beach-based Coalition Duchenne has granted its 2014 Lotus Award to professor Rachelle Crosbie-Watson from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in recognition of her outstanding work in education, research, and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The award also includes a $10,000 grant, which will be given to the Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at UCLA, and was announced at the Coalition Duchenne Annual Gala held at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin, California.
Currently a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology at UCLA with joint appointment in the Department of Neurology, Crosbie-Watson specializes in the muscle proteins related to dystrophin, the problem gene in Duchenne, which she was able to isolate and named the “sarcospan.” In addition, her lab at UCLA has been dedicated to understanding the function of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex, which is crucial to increasing understanding of the disease.
Crosbie-Watson had already been awarded the Robert Sampson Fellowship by the Muscular Dystrophy Association to support her research at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, as well as the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. Having designed an undergraduate course of Molecular Mechanisms and Therapies for Muscular Dystrophy, which is being adopted by other institutions all over the country, and serving as Education Liaison for the Center of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, she has inspired thousands of students.
“We are excited to give this award to Rachelle. She is an exceptional educator who has made a significant contribution to the world of Duchenne,” stated Catherine Jayasuriya, founder and executive director of Coalition Duchenne, an organization that was founded in 2011 with the main purpose of raising awareness about DMD and supporting research in order to find a cure for the disease. In addition to providing awards and funding grants, the organization also has other initiatives, such as supporting potential cardiac and pulmonary treatments for Duchenne patients and other muscle weakening diseases.
DMD is the most common fatal genetic condition that affects children, diagnosed in about 1 in every 3,500 male births. It is a progressive muscle wasting disease caused by an abnormality in the gene that codes for the protein dystrophin, which provokes instability of the muscle cells, as well as its weakened and loss of functionality.