Dr. Hiba Risheg graduated from UNLV's College of Science in 1997 and later earned her PhD in Genetics. Hiba has been credited with discovering the gene that causes a form of mental retardation. Researchers have been searching 40 years for this gene.
It was the birth of Hiba Risheg's cousin, Zied which led to a breakthrough career in genetics. Zied was born with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic disorder characterized by developmental delay or mental retardation, seizures, and lesions of the skin and nervous system. Hiba wanted to understand the genetics behind the disorder. Years later, she had her answer. TSC can be inherited, but most often results from a spontaneous genetic mutation. "It's something that just happens. Just by chance," Risheg says. With the causative gene isolated, the syndrome can be better defined and diagnostic testing can be offered. UNLV's College of Sciences has awarded Hiba Risheg its 2008 Alumna of the Year Award.