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Professor Leena Peltonen-Palotie, past President of HUGO (2005–2007), sadly passed away March 11, 2010 after a long struggle with cancer.
As one of the premier human geneticists of her times, she pioneered the study of special populations to understand human disease. Her work extended to association studies and population genetics which resulted in over 500 research papers and 80 review articles. Leena was the recipient of the Antoine Marfan Award, the Anders Jahre Prize, the European van Gysel Prize for Biomedical Research and the Eric K. Fernström Prize. Most recently, she was named an Academician of Science, the highest academic honour in her country of Finland. She was also a member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, and of EMBO. The reach of her influence was seen in the leadership positions that she held at UCLA, the Broad Institute, the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland, and at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, as well as in the many students and post-doctoral fellows whom she trained.
Throughout her life, Leena Peltonen-Palotie was a tireless advocate for the discipline of human genetics and genomics who taught us how this science can improve human lives. She led HUGO as our President of HUGO from 2005–2007 with her characteristic charm and strength.
Her premature death has left us with a deep sense of loss for a remarkable scientist, a respected leader, and a wonderful friend. The impact of her work, her imprint on the lives of her many students, and her stewardship of the many institutions that she led will be remembered. The whole HUGO community mourn her loss and send our prayers to the Palotie family in their grief.