Feminism is: Mary-Claire King, Discoverer of the BRCA Cancer Gene

January 23, 2015

Mary-Claire King, Professor of Genome Sciences and of Medicine (Medical Genetics) at the University of Washington, is a woman of many accomplishments. According to her brief biography on the American Society of Human Genetics website, “Some of her most noteworthy achievements include: identifying the BRCA1 gene responsible for inherited susceptibility to breast cancer; demonstrating that the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 99% genetically identical; and pioneering the application of genomic sequencing methods in forensics to identify victims of human rights abuse.”

Read more about her in the detailed Wikipedia entry, and in an interview from Time, titled, “Lessons from the Woman Who Dscovered the BRCA Cancer Gene.”   See also this article from the Washington Post about the movie in which Helen Hunt plays Dr. Mary-Claire King (who didn’t even know about it until after the movie was out!).

But perhaps more than anything else, I’m impressed with how Dr. King bears up under stress, doesn’t let either crushing circumstances or the opinions of others stop her from pursuing her goals, and the way her indomitable spirit has been benefiting humankind as a result.

So even if you don’t look up any of the other links on this page, take some time over the weekend to watch a short talk by Mary-Claire from The Moth Radio Hour.  Can you imagine bearing up under all the catastrophes that happened to Mary-Claire King over the couple of days she describes in her talk?  And her sense of humor is both remarkable and delightful.  Along with the audience, you’re sure to have plenty of laughs.

(Email subscribers, you’ll have to click this link to watch the video.)


Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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