In Memory of Sir Peter Harper

Published on Wed, 02/17/2021

It is with great sadness that MDF shares that Sir Peter Harper passed away last month at the age of 81. His research in neuro-genetics resulted in groundbreaking discoveries for both Huntington's disease and myotonic dystrophy (DM). In 1979 Dr. Harper first published his scientific monograph on myotonic dystrophy, which has remained tremendously influential in clarifying its multiple clinical effects and stimulating basic research. In 1992 he played a critical role in identifying the unusual and unexpected genetic change underlying DM. Due to his tremendous work characterizing DM’s complex clinical and genetic features, Sir Peter was awarded MDF’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. His book, Myotonic Dystrophy: The Facts, which has been translated into many languages, is one of the best sources of information about myotonic dystrophy and has become an essential guide for newly diagnosed families.

“Sir Peter had an unwavering focus on helping families affected by DM, as evidenced by his books and efforts as a geneticist in Wales for the 30 years after having found its genetic cause. His profound depth of experience and understanding of DM was of great value to scientists, clinicians and the patient community.  His death is a large loss for our worldwide community, and he will be sorely missed,” shared Dr. John W. Day, Director of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine at Stanford University and a member of MDF’s Board of Directors.

MDF will forever be grateful for Sir Peter’s contributions to the advancement of DM care and treatment in helping provide answers where none existed before.

More information about the impact of Sir Peter’s life’s work may be found here:

A transcript of an MDF interview with Sir Peter Harper in 2011 can be found here.