Mary-Claire King is American Cancer Society Research Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her B.A. in Mathematics from Carleton College and her Ph.D. in Genetics from University of California at Berkeley with the late Allan Wilson. Her dissertation (published in Science in 1975) was the demonstration that humans and chimpanzees are 99% identical at the level of structural genes, yet sufficiently diverged in morphology to be classified in different families. King and Wilson postulated that critical changes in human evolution were likely due to regulatory changes in the timing and level of gene expression.
Subsequently, as Professor of Genetics at UC Berkeley in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the School of Public Health, Dr. King was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families. She used linkage analysis of high risk families to prove the existence of the gene she names BRCA1. The characterization of inherited breast cancer remains her primary research focus. Her other research interests include inherited deafness, systemic lupus erythematosus, human genetic diversity and evolution, and the application of DNA sequencing to human rights problems. At the University of Washington since 1996, she is ACS Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Genome Sciences.
Dr. King has served on the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the Presidents Cancer Panel, the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), multiple National Cancer Institute councils and planning groups, three NIH study sections, the Council of the Institute of Medicine, the Advisory Committee for the NIH Office for Research on Women's Health, the Council of the NIH Fogarty International Center, National Academy of Sciences' Committees on the Use of DNA in Forensics and on the Development of the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program, and as consultant to the Commission on the Disappearance of Persons of the Republic of Argentina. Her lab carried out DNA identifications for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal.
Dr. King has been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as a member of the Institute of Medicine, and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.