Mary-Claire King

University of Washington
Geneticist; Educator
Biological Sciences
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology

Mary-Claire King is the American Cancer Society Professor of Medical Genetics and of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle and an affiliate member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Prior to joining the University of Washington in 1995, she was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1976 to 1995. King received the B.A. (1966) in mathematics from Carleton College and the Ph.D. (1973) in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley. King is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society, and a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. In 2012, she was President of the American Society of Human Genetics. King was the first to show that breast cancer is inherited in some families, as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. Her other research interests include the genetic bases of schizophrenia, the genetic causes of congenital disorders in children, and human genetic diversity and evolution. She pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations, developing the approach of sequencing mitochondrial DNA preserved in human remains, then applying this method to the identification of kidnapped children in Argentina and subsequently to cases of human rights violations on six continents. King's awards include honorary degrees from 21 universities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Israel, and China; the Lasker-Koshland Award for Medical Research (2014); and the U.S. National Medal of Science (2016). King was elected a Fellow (Class II:1) of the American Academy in 1999 and has served on the Academy’s Council since 2018.


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