Mary Claire King, PhD, has an outstanding record of accomplishment over the last 48 years—from her first papers as a graduate student to her latest papers investigating the genetic etiology of breast cancer and schizophrenia. Her research has both challenged existing paradigms and, in many cases, significantly influenced the course of human genetics. Her research studies complex, heterogeneous human conditions that are influenced by both genes and environment. As a graduate student, she demonstrated that the protein coding genes of humans and chimpanzees are 99% genetically identical. As an independent scientist beginning in the 1970s, she proved the existence of the gene she named BRCA1, which harbors mutations with a major influence on the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in hundreds of thousands of women. That discovery led to fundamental changes in cancer prevention and treatment.
The William Allan Award recognizes substantial and far-reaching scientific contributions to human genetics, and was established in 1961 in memory of William Allan, MD (1881-1943), one of the first American physicians to conduct extensive research on human genetics and hereditary diseases.
ASHG press release: https://www.ashg.org/publications-news/press-releases/202007-allan-award/