Skip Navigation
Angelo State University

Search Site

Information for:

March 2004

Release Date: March 9, 2004

Genetic Expert to Deliver 28th Moon Lecture April 6 at ASU

Dr. Mary-Claire King, one of the world's leading authorities on the role of genes in breast and ovarian cancers, will deliver the 28th Annual Roy E. Moon Distinguished Lecture in Science April 6 at Angelo State University.

King is the American Cancer Society Professor in the Departments of Medicine (Medical Genetics) and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. She is widely regarded not only for her contributions to science but also for her promotion of various social issues. These issues include the expansion and recognition of women in science, use of genetics to identify victims of war and terrorism and international cooperation in science, most notably demonstrated in her joint work with Israeli and Palestinian scientists.

She will speak at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, in the Davidson Conference Center in the Houston Harte University Center on the ASU campus. The first lecture, "Genetic Analysis of Breast and Ovarian Cancer," is technical in nature and most suitable for students and individuals with a science background. The evening lecture on "Genes, Race and Medicine" is directed more at a general audience.

The Moon Lectureship was established in 1976 in memory of former San Angelo physician Roy E. Moon by five of his medical colleagues. The lectureship has been funded annually by a grant from the physicians of West Texas Medical Associates to bring scientists of national prominence to campus each year for public lectures, colloquia, classroom visits and informal discussions.

Dr. King is best known for being the first to demonstrate that a mutation in a single gene is responsible for causing an inherited form of breast and ovarian cancer. Her work opened up new lines of research that culminated in the discovery of the gene now called BRCA1.

King is currently involved in a variety of collaborative research projects studying inherited deafness, examining genetic resistance to HIV, using mitochondrial DNA sequences to trace the movements of human populations and identifying genes for lupus susceptibility.

In October 2003, the scientific journal Science published her latest work on breast cancer. As a principal investigator of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation-funded New York Breast Cancer Study, she and her colleagues reported that exercise and a healthy weight in one's early life can be protective against breast cancer and that breast cancer inherited through the father's line is less likely to be anticipated and therefore potentially more dangerous. This study involved the collaboration of over 1,000 women with breast cancer along with 12 hospitals and cancer centers and 65 oncologists, surgeons and genetic counselors.

During the formative years of her research career she employed molecular techniques in Argentina to reunite children with their grandparents some years after the outbreak of civil war during which the children's parents were kidnapped and murdered by the ruling military.

Before joining the University of Washington faculty, she served 19 years as a professor of genetics in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health, both at the University of California at Berkeley.

Since 1998 she has been an affiliate member in the clinical division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

King is a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an elected member in basic biomedical sciences of the Institute of Medicine. In 1994 she received the Clowes Award for Basic Research from the American Association for Cancer Research. In 1999 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Her research has resulted in 192 articles in professional and refereed journals. She holds four U.S. research patents related to genetic markers for breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins and actin modulators.

She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., as well as a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley. She has also done post-doctoral work at the University of California at San Francisco.

King first received national and world attention when segments of her doctoral dissertation were featured as a 1975 cover story in Science, demonstrating that the genome of humans and chimpanzees are over 99 percent identical.

In the November 2002 issue of Discover, King was named to the magazine's list of "The Most Important Women in Science" for her important contributions in human genetic research. King joins several other former Roy E. Moon distinguished lecturers on the Discover magazine list, including Polly Matzinger, Lynn Margulis and Sylvia Earle.