Mary-Claire King to receive the 2006 Weizmann Women & Science Award

May 23, 2006

The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science has announced that Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., who is internationally known for her contributions to the field of genetics, will receive the 2006 Weizmann Women & Science Award. The Award will be presented by journalist Lesley Stahl, correspondent for the CBS program 60 Minutes, at a ceremony at Rockefeller University on June 12.

"Prof. King's career demonstrates originality, dedication, and innovation," said Sara Lee Schupf, Chair of the nominating committee and initiator of the Award. "Widely respected within the scientific community, her monumental accomplishments have the potential to improve the quality of life for millions. She embodies the spirit of the Weizmann Women & Science Award, and is a superb role model for young women."

Prof. King is the American Cancer Society Research Professor of Medicine and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her primary research focus is the characterization of inherited breast cancer, and she was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families. Her major findings include the discovery of the BRCA 1 gene that predisposes individuals to this widespread disease, which kills 40,000 women annually in the U.S. Prof. King's other interests include inherited deafness, systemic lupus erythematosus, human genetic diversity and evolution, and the application of genomics to human rights problems. Her laboratory has carried out DNA identifications for the War Crimes Tribunal of the United Nations. She has been recognized with many prestigious honors, such as the Clowes Award in Basic Research from the American Association of Cancer Research, the Jill Rose Award from the American Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Brinker Award from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Prof. King has served on many councils and committees related to women's health and public policy.

The Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, is a world-renowned center for science and technology research; for over sixty years, the American Committee has been a major source of its support. The Weizmann Women & Science Award, which is given out biennially and includes a research grant, was established in 1994 under the guidance of Sara Lee Schupf, who was then Chair of the American Committee. It honors an outstanding woman scientist in the U.S. who has made a major contribution to science, technology, or engineering, and seeks to encourage the next generation of women scientists. Past winners are Joan Argetsinger Steitz (biophysics), Vera Rubin (astronomy), Jacqueline K. Barton (chemistry), Carla J. Shatz (neurobiology), Susan Solomon (aeronomy), and May Berenbaum (entomology).

Ms. Schupf conceived of the Award to address what she saw as an overwhelming lack of support for women in an important, male-dominated field. One of the first awards of its kind, it has grown in prominence over the last twelve years and become a model for other organizations. "The Weizmann Women & Science Award has shined a spotlight on the extraordinary achievements of our nation's finest women scientists," said Ms. Schupf. "In doing so, it has emphasized the need to inspire young women to pursue scientific careers, and I am pleased to see that this issue is now becoming an item of focus on the national agenda."

The Award ceremony on June 12 will also include remarks from the Weizmann Institute's Prof. Ruth Arnon, a world-renowned immunologist. More information about the event can be obtained by contacting Merritt Birnbaum at (212) 895-7908 or
The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS), founded in 1944, develops philanthropic support for the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, one of the world's premier scientific research institutions. The Weizmann Institute is a center of multidisciplinary scientific research and graduate study, addressing crucial problems in medicine and health, technology, energy, agriculture, and the environment. For additional information, please visit

American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science

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