Clinical Neurosciences Center

University of Utah Hospital Neurologist Receives Highest Honor from the German Muscular Dystrophy Association

Recognized for Her Work with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Kathryn Swoboda, MD, Becomes first Utahn to receive the Duchenne-Erb Prize

March 10, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – Every other year, the German Muscular Dystrophy Association (DGM) recognizes two individuals throughout the world with its highest scientific award, the Duchenne-Erb Prize. This year, one of those recipients was Kathryn Swoboda, MD, associate professor of Neurology at University of Utah Hospital, and the first Utahn ever to receive the prestigious award.

Given on a biannual basis The Duchenne-Erb Prize honors scientists who, throughout their careers, have made ​​significant contributions to the study of neuromuscular diseases. Dr. Swoboda was recognized at a recent event in Aachen, Germany, for her commitment and dedication to researching spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in children – a condition that affects approximately 1 in every 10,000 births and is the leading cause of death in infancy for a neuromuscular condition.

“As researchers we’re always trying to better understand the diseases we treat and to find ways to better diagnose patients. That doesn’t happen without extensive collaboration between patients and physicians throughout the country,” says Dr. Swoboda. “The research and commitment being dedicated to SMA is definitely a joint effort, but to be recognized by an organization like the DGM is an honor.”

Dr. Swoboda’s research focuses primarily on the progression of SMA in children, specifically pre-symptomatic children and their affected siblings. Since arriving at the University of Utah in 1999, Dr. Swoboda has developed a database of more than 400 patients affected by SMA, many of whom have been a part of prospective studies for over a decade.

“SMA is an exciting area to watch right now because it’s one of the neuromuscular diseases with the greatest promise for having a truly effective treatment,” says Stefan M. Pulst, MD, chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Utah. “Dr. Swoboda is considered a recognized leader in that ongoing research. We’re thrilled to have her as part of our team and congratulate her on her recognition from the DGM.”  

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About University of Utah Health Care

 University of Utah Health Care is the Intermountain West’s only academic health care system, dedicated to leading-edge and compassionate medicine, groundbreaking research, and a commitment to train future health care providers in a caring and personal setting. Our health system serves the people of Utah and five surrounding states, with more than 1,100 physicians offering more than 135 medical specialties. University of Utah Health Care includes four hospitals – University of Utah Hospital; the University of Utah Orthopaedic Center; University Neuropsychiatric Institute; and Huntsman Cancer Hospital – 10 community clinics, and numerous specialty centers. We consistently place among the top hospital systems in the country in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey, and have ranked in the top 10 academic medical centers in quality of care for the past three years—including the No. 1 ranking in 2010 in the annual Quality and Accountability Study conducted by the University HealthSystem Consortium.