Professorship in Molecular Genetics Advances Research in Childhood Diseases

Children’s National on Sept. 8 named researcher Eric Hoffman, PhD, as the first A. James Clark Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics. Dr. Hoffman, the director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research, was first installed as the A. James Clark Professor of Molecular Genetics in 1999. Thanks to the generous support of the Clark Charitable Foundation, the professorship has been elevated to a distinguished professorship. Among the 23 named professors at Children’s National, only four others hold “distinguished” in their title.

Dr. Hoffman’s pioneering research is making significant progress for children with muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular disorders. His work identified the dystrophin protein and its deficiency in Duchenne muscular dystrophy patient muscle and animal models. This was the first gene ever identified as causing a human disease.

“Since becoming the Clark Professor, I’ve had the honor of getting to know the Clark family and people at Clark Enterprises who care so passionately about this region,” said Dr. Hoffman. “Their continued support of my team and me has the potential to help thousands, if not millions, of children.”

The late A. James Clark led Clark Enterprises, which grew from a local contractor to a a national company that has helped transform the landscape of America’s cities. A man of great principles, Mr. Clark believed firmly in the importance of giving back to the community and created the Clark Charitable Foundation. The Clark family and the Clark Charitable Foundation have supported Dr. Hoffman’s genetic medicine research at Children’s National for nearly two decades.

The distinguished professorship will help Dr. Hoffman and his team bring new therapies to children through international drug development and clinical trials in muscular dystrophy. They are also investigating the causes of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and asthma and exploring new ways to treat and prevent them.

“Eric is an exceptional scientist and human being,” said Mark Batshaw, MD, Executive Vice President, Physician-in-Chief, and Chief Academic Officer at Children’s National. “More than any other PhD I have known, he places the health and welfare of children as his North Star.”

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