We Love… Dr. Mary-Claire King

We Love… Dr. Mary-Claire King

Ever heard of Dr. Mary-Claire King?


If not, you’re in for a good story.


Dr. King is a geneticist, exploring the human genes and what we can learn and do about them. She’s done a multitude of things from human rights work to solving a piece of the gigantic puzzle that is breast cancer. And you know how much we love people who help in the fight against breast cancer.


Her story starts in a straightforward way: as a child she lost a friend to cancer and decided to become a doctor. But her path to fighting cancer kicked off with an interest in genetics. This led her to Argentina in the 80’s, using genetic markers to help identify children and their parents, reuniting families separated by an ugly war. Her team brought dozens of children back to their rightful parents. Pretty amazing stuff.


Back in the United States, she took on more questions about the human genome. She asked a question that needed asking: is breast cancer genetic?


Her answers were startling – particularly as it seemed no one else was paying attention:


“When women our age started in the field, there were very few of us, and we were absolutely on the margins. People pretty much ignored us. I have come to realize that there was a great freedom in being ignored, that you could go after huge questions, because nobody noticed,” she explained.


Later on, they certainly took notice! She led the team that discovered the BRCA (BReast CAncer) genes. It’s such a riveting tale that Helen Hunt plays her in the movie.


Her work in breast cancer research has had an impact on women’s lives all over the world. Her gumption is admirable. Her hard work is impressive. We cannot thank Dr. Mary-Claire King enough.





Image credit: Helen Hunt face by Gregg Rizzo (via Wikimedia Commons) Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Originally published 12/30/13 on mammographykc.com.