On the Trail of BRCA1

Courtesy of Mary-Claire KingAfter 16 years of exhausting research, data collection and computation, Mary-Claire King's lab determined in 1990 that a mutation on chromosome 17 was a common occurrence among women in families that had clusters of breast cancer. This family tree shows one of the families in the study. Squares are men, circles are women. Blackened circles indicate women with breast cancer. A cross through the symbol means that person died.When the paper was published in 1990,1 King b

Sam Jaffe
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Courtesy of Mary-Claire King

After 16 years of exhausting research, data collection and computation, Mary-Claire King's lab determined in 1990 that a mutation on chromosome 17 was a common occurrence among women in families that had clusters of breast cancer. This family tree shows one of the families in the study. Squares are men, circles are women. Blackened circles indicate women with breast cancer. A cross through the symbol means that person died.

When the paper was published in 1990,1 King became an instant celebrity in the world of breast cancer research. But it took hundreds of charts like these, each accounting for massive amounts of shoe leather and creative thought. Says King: "If there's one thing that they don't teach enough about in graduate school, it's that science is so extremely hard."

- Sam Jaffe

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