Scientist receives lifetime achievement award in behavior genetics

David A. Blizard, senior research associate in Penn State’s Department of Biobehavioral Health, was presented the Dobzhansky Memorial Award from the Behavior Genetics Association at its 39th Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis, Minn., in June. The award, known to the international association as the "Doby," is awarded to a member for a lifetime of outstanding scholarship and achievement in behavioral genetic analysis.

Blizard’s research has focused on the relation between behavior, genes and physiology. He has contributed to the mapping of mouse genes, specifically those involved in preference for sweet tastes and aversion to bitter tastes. He is currently working on a project that is examining the genetic basis of emotionality (the level of fearfulness in a new situation) and its relationship to irritable bowel syndrome.

“It is very rewarding and gratifying to be recognized by one’s peers because it is to this field that I have committed myself to for most of my career,” Blizard said. “It also provides an important encouragement to persevere, understanding that one’s work has been appreciated. The scientific field has grown in many different ways during that time and the Behavior Genetics Association has played an important part in that growth.”

Blizard has been a member of the Behavior Genetics Association for more than 35 years, serving as president of the association and associate editor for the association’s journal, Behavior Genetics.

In 1999, Blizard was named senior fellow, Japan Society, University of Tsukuba. He received his doctorate in physiological psychology from the University of Wales in 1968 and worked formerly at Wake Forest University, New York University and Rockefeller University.

Blizard is the third Penn State faculty member to receive the prestigious Dobzhansky honor. Former recipients of the award include Gerald E. McClearn, professor of biobehavioral health and Robert Plomin, who was a professor of human development and family studies at Penn State for nine years. All three conducted their research within the the Center for Developmental and Health Genetics.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010