Mary-Claire King is a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle. She grew up in Chicago and received her BA in Mathematics from Carleton College, her PhD in Genetics from UC Berkeley, and her postdoctoral training at UC San Francisco. She was professor at UC Berkeley from 1976-1995 and at UW since 1995. Dr. King has served on multiple councils and study sections of the NIH. She was consultant to the Commission on the Disappearance of Persons of the Republic of Argentina and carried out DNA identifications for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunals. She is past president of the American Society of Human Genetics and a past member of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to the NAS, Dr. King has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society, and as a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. Her awards include the Gruber Foundation Prize in Genetics, the Dan David Prize (Israel), the Shaw Prize (Hong Kong), the Lasker Foundation Award for Medical Research, and the United States National Medal of Science.

Research Interests

Dr. King uses genetics and genomics to study informative families and populations in order to identify genes responsible for complex human conditions. She 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. In addition to inherited breast and ovarian cancer, her other current research interests include the genetic bases of schizophrenia, the genetic causes of birth 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.

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Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics

Secondary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology