For those familiar with Rett Syndrome, Professor Bird needs no introduction. He is the world’s leading expert in the gene MECP2, which causes Rett Syndrome when mutated. His lab discovered the MeCP2 protein in the early 1990′s and in February of 2007, Prof. Bird published the landmark paper in the journal Science establishing the principle of reversibility of Rett symptoms in mice, providing the proof-of principle which suggests reversal may be possible in humans.
Professor Bird's lab continues to study the structure and function of the mammalian genome and in particular the role of DNA methylation, a fundamental mechanism controlling gene expression. Professor Bird has served on the Board of Trustees of the Rett Syndrome Research Trust since the organisation's inception in 2008. He is an integral part of the RSRT funded, MECP2 Consortium, an international collaboration between the labs of three distinguished scientists, each with their own expertise in the science behind Rett Syndrome, which has this year, yielded two key publications telling us more about the function of the Rett protein. In August this year, Professor Bird also co-authored another paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the first pre-clinical gene therapy study to reverse Rett symptoms, suggesting that gene therapy may eventually be a feasible option for treating Rett Syndrome.
We congratulate Professor Bird on all these achievements and are delighted that he has been recognised for his work. Only 2% of this year's honours go to the science and technology sector. As families of children with Rett Syndrome and related MECP2 disorders, we are beyond fortunate to have a scientist of this calibre forging discovery which will ultimately change the lives of so many people.
2013 has been a memorable year in terms of Rett research developments and progress. May 2014 follow suit, or even raise the bar.
We live in hope - always.
Professor Bird has served on the Board of Trustees of the Rett Syndrome Research Trust since the organisation's inception in 2008. Here he is speaking about his work at our Reverse Rett London Gala Dinner in 2011.