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A Conversation with Mary-Claire King

By January 7, 2019No Comments

Few scientists have had a more massive contribution to genetics than Mary-Claire King of the University of Washington. King (Figure 1) was the first to show that breast cancer is inherited in some families as a result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. She had already changed our view of evolution when she demonstrated during her PhD work that the protein-coding DNA sequences of humans and chimpanzees are 99% identical. She’s also been a tireless social justice warrior, protesting wars, fighting the patenting of genes, and pioneering research in using genomic tools to aid in the investigation of human rights abuses. A condensed version of our conversation is presented here.