Huntington’s Disease Timeline

This timeline showcases the development in knowledge and understanding, and ultimately, getting one step closer to finding a cure for the Huntington’s disease community

Huntington's Victoria - Paracelsus - Huntington's Disease Australia

16th Century

A Renaissance alchemist, Paracelsus, coined the term “chorea” to describe the dance-like, uncoordinated movements that are now known to be symptomatic of HD.

Huntington's Victoria - Thomas Sydenham - Huntington's Disease Australia


Thomas Sydenham, an English Physician attempted to classify different types of chorea and described their causes.


​For the first time HD is referred to by medical practitioners in the US, England and Norway as “chronic hereditary chorea”.

Huntington's Victoria Facebook page


In this year, a 20-year-old new medical graduate published a paper titled “On Chorea”. This is the first time a definitive explanation of the presentation of chorea and its association with the hereditary disease was identified.  


Following on from George Huntingtons paper, fellow researchers 

Researchers first note the deterioration of the brains of patients with HD as the disease progresses and have identified the caudate nucleus as the central target of brain cell death.

Huntington's Victoria - HDF - Huntington's Disease Australia


Woody Guthrie was a famous singer-songwriter who had influenced many famous artists during and after his time. He was formally diagnosed with HD in 1952 and sadly passed away in 1967 at the age of 55. His ex-wife Marjorie Guthrie created the first charity for HD called the Huntington’s Disease Society of America before he passed in 1968.

Huntington's Victoria - HDF - Huntington's Disease Australia


The Foundation for Research in Hereditary Disease, later known as Hereditary Disease Foundation was established by Milton Wexler and his family to raise funds for research.


The first rat model of HD was developed by Joseph T. Coyle using kainic acid. The rats exhibited HD-like symptoms such as decreased weight, motor dysfunction, brain atrophy, and other cognitive impairments.

Late 1970s

Researchers found evidence that HD affects cells all over the body, not just in the brain.


Nancy Wexler and her research team (Huntington’s Disease Collaborative Research Group) found out that HD was highly prevalent throughout families in Venezuela, so they travelled there and began trials in hopes that they would find the gene causing HD amongst families around the world.


The Huntington’s Disease Collaborative Research Group got one step closer to success in their HD trials in Venezuela and found a gene marker that was linked to HD on chromosome 4 – the section in DNA that HD is connected to. However, the gene itself was not yet uncovered.


Success was finally reached in 1993 when the gene for Huntington’s disease was discovered due to the research efforts of the Huntington’s Disease Collaborative Research Group. They found that the gene causing HD in individuals had an abnormally high CAG repeat. As a result of these findings, researchers could begin to gain more understanding of HD, why it happens and how to develop a cure. Individuals in a HD family also were then able to get genetic testing to find out if they inherited the mutated HD gene or not.


Through the hard work of scientists around the globe, it became known that the mutated gene causes cells throughout the body to die, and thus causes HD. 


One of the most resourceful and knowledgeable sites on HD still to this day, known as HDBuzz, was established by Ed Wild and Jeff Carroll.