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Geneticist and humanitarian: Prof. Mary-Claire King receives Lasker Award

Tel Aviv University honorary doctor recognized with 'American Nobel' for cancer research and genetic identification of human rights victims

American Friends of Tel Aviv University

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IMAGE: TAU's Professor Karen Avraham (left) is with Professor Mary-Claire King at the Lasker Award ceremony in New York. view more

Credit: American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU)

At a ceremony held in New York City on September 19, 2014, leading geneticist and humanitarian Prof. Mary-Claire King, the American Cancer Society Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle and 2008 Honorary Doctor of Philosophy of Tel Aviv University, was awarded the 2014 Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science.

In addition to her honorary degree from TAU, Prof. King was the 2012-2013 Sackler Lecturer at the TAU School of Medicine, and for the past 18 years she has been the research partner of Prof. Karen Avraham, Professor of Human Molecular Genetics and Vice Dean at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

The prize, awarded annually since 1946 by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, is considered by many the "American Nobel."

"Prof. Mary-Claire King has employed her intellect, dedication, and ethical sensibilities to generate knowledge that has catalyzed profound changes in health care, and she has applied her expertise to promote justice where nefarious governments have terrorized their citizens," the foundation stated.

Prof. King is one of the world's leading scientists in the field of human molecular genetics. She was the first to demonstrate that a genetic predisposition for breast cancer exists as the result of inherited mutations in the gene she named BRCA1. More recently, she devised a plan to screen for all genes that predispose to breast and ovarian cancers.

Prof. King also pioneered the use of genetic identification to identify victims of human rights violations. Beginning in the 1980s, Prof. King helped find children in Argentina taken from their families during the "Dirty War" of the late 1970s and early 1980s, using a novel approach based on mitochondrial DNA sequencing. She used the same method to identify victims of the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, and victims of other human rights abuses, natural disasters and man-made tragedies.

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For more, visit the Lasker Foundation Web site at http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/2014_s_description.htm

American Friends of Tel Aviv Universit supports Israel's most influential, most comprehensive, and most sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). A leader in the pan-disciplinary approach to education, TAU is internationally recognized for the scope and groundbreaking nature of its research and scholarship -- attracting world-class faculty and consistently producing cutting-edge work with profound implications for the future.

TAU is Israel's only institution of higher learning ranked among the world's top 200 universities by the authoritative Times Higher Education World University Rankings. It is one of a handful of elite international universities rated as the best producers of successful startups, and TAU alumni rank 9th in the world for the amount of American venture capital they attract.

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