The prize recognizes researchers whose work “shines a light on the heritable hazards of germline exposures to drugs or other chemicals” and comes with a $2,500 award and plaque.
The organization noted that Dr. Martynyuk “took a daring step” in recent years by investigating in rats the mechanisms of the heritable effects of sevoflurane, a general anesthetic (GA) commonly used in clinical practice. Since two small animal studies in the 1980s reporting abnormalities in the offspring of mice exposed to the GA enflurane, there had been no studies of heritable effects of GAs.
Dr. Martynyuk’s laboratory obtained the first experimental evidence that DNA methylation reprogramming of the parental germ cell genome may be involved in the mediation of neurobehavioral deficits in future unexposed male offspring of parents anesthetized with sevoflurane as neonates or young adults. More details on these novel findings by Dr. Martynyuk’s group can be found in , , and .
This year’s Escher Prize was also awarded to epidemiologist Cecilie Svanes, MD, PhD, a Professor at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen, Norway.
The Escher Fund for Autism promotes and funds research on the genetic toxicology of autism and related neurodevelopmental pathologies.