Professor Dr. Mary-Claire King

Professor Dr. Mary-Claire King Ph.D.

2018 in Medicine

Professor Dr. Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

Professor of Medical Genetics

Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, 

University of Washington  USA


Professor Dr.Mary-Claire King, Ph.D. discovered a gene causing breast cancer, the most common cancer among women. Each year, there are over 2 million new cases of breast cancer resulting in 200,000 deaths.

In 1991, Prof. King found a gene called BRCA1 in which its mutation leads to breast cancer. Therefore, it was demonstrated for the first time that the diseases can be inherited. The genetic testing can help screen people at risk of breast cancer in order to rapidly diagnose, monitor or effectively treat it at its early stages. Later, more breast cancer-related genes, e.g. BRCA2, were identified and Prof. King was often involved in those findings. However, mutations in BRCA1 remains the most common cause of breast cancer among patients. Prof. King also worked with researchers at the University of Washington to develop an affordable genetic test for breast cancer so that more people can have access to screening.

The Prince Mahidol Award recognises the great discoveries by Prof. Brian J. Druker, for a prototype drug used for treatment of CML that advances the development of targeted therapy, and by Prof. Dr. Mary-Clair King, for identifying the most common and hereditable gene related to breast cancer as well as developing a breast cancer gene detection kit to provide effective screening and monitoring for people at risk.  These findings demonstrate the high impact of basic research, diagnosis, and treatment of common cancers, and thus improves the quality of life for mankind and reduces the mortality rates of CML and breast cancer among millions of people worldwide.