Hugo Bellen


Baylor College of Medicine

Hugo Bellen, DVM, PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Human Genetics and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). He started his independent career as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at BCM in 1989. Dr. Bellen studies human disease genes and has utilized the fly to validate dozens of novel genes associated with neurological disease. In collaboration with human geneticists, he has elucidated the pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases using the fly as a model organism. Dr. Bellen was chosen to lead the Model Organism Screening Center (MOSC) of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network to assess human variants. In the past few years the MOSC has contributed to the discovery of numerous previously unknown diseases. Dr. Bellen has also made probing discoveries related to Friedreich ataxia, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and others. In doing so, he has cemented the status of Drosophila as a model system for human disease gene validation, understanding of pathogenic mechanisms, and as a tool for translational therapeutics. Dr. Bellen has pioneered the development of many novel technologies that are currently used by the majority of fly labs across the world. As the head of the Drosophila Gene Disruption Project, his laboratory has developed numerous sophisticated genetic tools and generated tens of thousands of fly lines that have transformed Drosophila biology. Finally, his group has made major contributions to our understanding of nervous system development, synaptic transmission, and mechanisms of neurodegeneration. Dr. Bellen has published over 250 publications. He has received numerous awards, including several awards in excellence in graduate education and research mentoring, the Michael DeBakey, MD, Excellence in Research Award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UC Davis, the Gill Distinguished Neuroscience Investigator Award, the George Beadle Award from the Genetics Society of America, among others.