Press Release | Mary-Claire King Ph.D., 2016 Szent-Györgyi Prize Winner

Press Release

Mary-Claire King, @UW 2016 Szent-Györgyi Prize


The National Press Club was the setting for the award ceremony recognizing Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., University of Washington professor of medicine and genome sciences as the 2016 recipient of the Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research presented annually by The National Foundation for Cancer Research.  This year’s prize recognizes Dr. King’s pioneering research that clearly demonstrated the genetic causes of breast and ovarian cancers by identifying the BRCA1 gene and its cancer-related mutations.

The dinner celebration featured a rare opportunity to hear from and ask questions of an esteemed panel.  Moderated by last year’s prize winner Dr. Fred Alt of Boston Children’s hospital, Dr. King was joined on stage by Webster K. Cavenee, Ph.D., Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego Branch, Susan Band Horwitz, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Craig B. Thompson, M.D., CEO of The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Mary-Claire King’s discoveries represent a fundamental step in the understanding of cancer and have changed the face of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. This has led to the genotype-based breast cancer screening practice that can identify individuals who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 and give them a chance to take preventive measures at an early stage of their lives.

About the Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research

The Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research was established by the National Foundation for Cancer Research in honor of its co-founder, Albert Szent-Györgyi, M.D., Ph.D., recipient of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.

The 2016 Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee was chaired by Fred Alt, Ph.D. and co-chaired by Sujuan Ba, Ph.D.  Other selection committee members included leaders in cancer research and drug development from academic institutes and biotech and pharmaceutical industries: Webster K. Cavenee, Ph.D., Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Sara A. Courtneidge, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University;  Carlo M. Croce, M.D., The Ohio State University; Richard Gaynor, M.D., Eli Lilly; Susan B. Horwitz, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School; Alex Matter, M.D., Experimental Therapeutics Center & D3, A*STAR, Singapore; Philip Tsichlis, M.D., Tufts University School of Medicine; Peter K. Vogt, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute; Irving L. Weissman, M.D., Stanford University; Qimin Zhan, M.D., Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, China; and General Secretary Yi Michael Wang, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, NFCR.

About Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., is American Cancer Society Research Professor of Genetics and Medicine (Medical Genetics) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1990, Mary-Claire King demonstrated that a single gene on chromosome 17q21 (which she named BRCA1) was responsible for breast and ovarian cancer in many families. Her discovery of BRCA1 and the approach she developed to identify this cancer gene has since proven valuable and revolutionized the study of numerous other inherited genetic diseases and conditions.

She has served on the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, the advisory board of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health and many NIH study sections. Abroad, she has carried out DNA identifications for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal. Her lab continues to provide genetic identification services and currently serves as the DNA identification base for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunals.

Dr. King has won numerous awards and honors throughout her career. Most recently the 2015 National Medal of Science. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

About the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR)

Dedicated to funding cancer research and public education relating to cancer prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatments and, ultimately, cures for cancer, NFCR has provided more than $330 million in direct support of discovery-oriented cancer research focused on understanding how and why cells become cancerous, and on public education relating to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. NFCR is about Research for a Cure—cures for all types of cancer.  For more information, please visit


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