Legends: Mary-Claire King, PhD

Legends: Mary-Claire King, PhD


Hi, I’m Liam and today I’m going to be talking with
Mary-Claire King about fighting back against cancer with the American Cancer Society. So what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was eleven I thought that I would be a teacher and I thought I would also be a mom. And it turned out to be true. I’m a
teacher and a mom. What about you? I kind of want to be a
paleontologist when I grow up. Oh fabulous! So what does a geneticist do? A geneticist figures out what DNA sequences are all about and how DNA sequences of some people differ from DNA sequences of other people.
We can try to sort out if there are mutations in the DNA
sequences that lead to problems. Most of them are just benign, neutral, nothing that ever makes a
difference, but sometimes mutations happen in
cells that have very bad consequences and that cause the cell to grow out of control and it can develop into a cancer. So would you like to have your own genome sequenced? I haven’t done it yet
because it hasn’t been a particularly high priority to me. What about you? I think that would be really cool, to have your genome sequenced. We’ll do it! How has your research affected patients with cancer? I think that we’ve been able to prevent
many, many women from developing breast cancer and
ovarian cancer. We’ve discovered what the genes are that lead some women to be very likely to develop breast cancer and
others not. What does BRCA1 stand for? What do you think? If you take BR and CA, and you know what the gene does,
what would you guess? Breast cancer 1? Yes! Yes! Yes, exactly, breast cancer 1. How did the American Cancer Society support your work? The American Cancer Society decided that they would give some money to
support a person who would do breast cancer research and I was that person and I am so lucky. I heard they made a movie about you. Yeah. Does that make you a movie star? Can I have your autograph? If I can have yours! Cool. It’s been enormously
important to my work to have the support of the American
Cancer Society for almost 20 years now. I wish the American Cancer Society a
fabulous 100th birthday and I wish them all the very best.

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