UW News

September 8, 2014

Geneticist Mary-Claire King to receive Lasker Foundation Award

UW Medicine

Mary-Clare King

Mary-Claire King calls for all women to be tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene variants that indicate elevated breast- and ovarian-cancer risk. She spoke May 31, 2014, at the World Science Festival in New York.

The University of Washington and UW Medicine announced today that Mary-Claire King, UW professor of medicine, Division of  Medical Genetics and of genome sciences, will receive the 2014 Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science. The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation award is one of the most prestigious scientific prizes. The Special Achievement Award recognizes exceptional leadership and citizenship in biomedical science. The award will be presented Sept. 19 in New York City.

The foundation is honoring King for “bold, imaginative and diverse contributions to medical science and human rights. … Her work has touched families around the world.”

King is a world leader in cancer genetics and in the application of genetics to resolution of human rights abuses. She was the first to demonstrate that a genetic predisposition for breast cancer exists, as the result of inherited mutations in the gene she named BRCA1. More recently she has devised with Tom Walsh, UW associate professor of medical genetics, a scheme to screen for all genes that predispose to breast and ovarian cancers.

She has applied her genetics expertise to aid victims of human rights violations around the world. Beginning in the 1980s, King helped to find children in Argentina taken from their families during the military regime of the late 1970s and early 1980s. She developed an approach based on mitochondrial DNA sequencing that led to the reunion of more than 100 children with their families.

Read more about King’s accomplishments leading to her Lasker Award in UW Health Sciences NewsBeat.

More details on the Lasker Award recipients, the full citations for each award category, video interviews and photos of the awardees, and additional information on the foundation are available at www.laskerfoundation.org.