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March 15, 2010

Breast Cancer Pioneer Delivers Genetics Lecture March 16 at CCNY

Dr. Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor in the Departments of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the University of Washington, will deliver the annual Louis Levine-Gabriella de Beer Lecture in Genetics at The City College of New York (CCNY), 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, in The Great Hall.  Her topic will be “Every Unhappy Family is Unhappy in Its Own Way: Genetic Heterogeneity in Human Disease.”  The lecture, which is presented by CCNY Interim President Robert E. Paaswell and The City College Fund, is free and open to the public.

Dr. King was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1.  In addition to inherited breast and ovarian cancer, her research interests include genetics of hearing loss, the genetic bases of schizophrenia, genetics of systemic lupus erythematosus, and human genetic diversity and evolution.

She also pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations, developing the approach of sequencing mitochondrial DNA preserved in human remains, and then applying this method to the identification of kidnapped children in Argentina and subsequently to cases of human rights violations in six continents.

Dr. King received her Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley and her post-doctoral training at the University of California in San Francisco.  Her dissertation demonstrated that humans and chimpanzees are 99% genetically identical.

She has served on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, and multiple councils and study sections of the NIH and the National Academy of Sciences.   In addition, she was a consultant to the Commission on the Disappearance of Persons of the Republic of Argentina and carried out DNA identifications for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunals.

Dr. King is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, as well as a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences.  She has received numerous national and international awards, prizes, and medals as well as 13 honorary doctoral degrees, including from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton Universities.

To reserve your seat, call The City College Fund at 212-650-7192, or email cly@citycollegefund.org.

About The Louis Levine-Gabriella de Beer Lecture in Genetics
The Louis Levine-Gabriella de Beer Lecture in Genetics was established by Gabriella de Beer in memory of her husband, Professor Louis Levine.  A graduate of the College, he earned his Ph.D. in population genetics under the late, great evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky at Columbia University.  Professor Levine’s research centered on population studies of Drosophila and behavior genetics of mice.  Human genetics and forensic genetics were among other areas to which he was devoted.  Professor Levine taught in the Department of Biology and in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, participated in bi-national research studies in Mexico, and was Visiting Professor at the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology).  In later years, he served as a consultant and expert witness in criminal cases involving DNA evidence.

The aim of these annual lectures is to perpetuate Professor Levine’s lifelong interest in the ever-expanding field of genetics.

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