Dr. Mary-Claire King, professor of medicine (Medical Genetics) and genome sciences, receives the National Medal of Science.

The National Medical of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are the nation's highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology. 

Dr. King is a world leader in cancer genetics and is recognized for her work in transforming the application of human genetics to medicine through identification of the first gene, BRCA1, responsible for inherited susceptibility to breast cancer. She also demonstrated that the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 99% identical, and pioneered the application of genetic sequencing in forensics to identify victims of human rights abuse.

She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Paul Ehrlich Prize, National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award, and the prestigious Lasker award.


Professor Mary Claire King with President Barack Obama receives the National Medal of Science
Professor Mary Claire King with President Barack Obama at the National Medal of Science ceremony, May 2016
“Science and technology are fundamental to solving some of our Nation’s biggest challenges. The knowledge produced by these Americans today will carry our country’s legacy of innovation forward and continue to help countless others around the world. Their work is a testament to American ingenuity.”

-President Obama

Dr. King is the fifth UW faculty member to win this award; two previous winners also won Nobel Prizes. She received the award in May 2016 at a ceremony at the White House.

Past UW winners:

  • E. Donnall Thomas, Medicine (1990)
  • Hans Dehmelt, Physics (1995)
  • Richard Carp, Computer Science and Engineering (1996)
  • Ernest Davidson, Chemistry (2000)