Tedious process of early gene hunting, Mary-Claire King
Interviewee: Mary-Claire King. Tedious process of early gene hunting. (DNAi Location: Timeline > 1990s)
Twenty-five years ago when I began this work this was an extraordinarily tedious process because there were very few such flags, a few dozen. There was also no quick way of evaluating them, so one had to do the evaluation, tedious flag by tedious flag, using procedures that took three weeks from the beginning of the experiment to the end, and then one had one result. And then one went on to one more result. It was incredibly slow going. The invention of PCR made a huge difference to us, because it meant that instead of three weeks we were now down to three hours between the time that we would begin an analysis and could end it. But the most critical component in all of this, next to the families themselves, was the existence of a genetic map, so that we could, for a family like this, identify markers on every single chromosome, all the way up and down chromosome 1, all the way up and down chromosome 2, and so on all the way through chromosome 22 and X and Y.
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Mary-Claire King talks about the search for a bit of DNA that would shed light on why some members of a family developed cancer while others did not.
Mary-Claire King talks about her first steps toward finding the gene responsible for certain kinds of inherited breast cancer.
Mary-Claire King speaks about how much was yet to be understood about the genetic mechanisms of cancer when she began her hunt for genes associated with breast cancer.
Mary-Claire King talks about the tedious process of hunting for genes in the days before genetic maps (based on thousands of markers) were readily available.
Mary-Claire King talks about testing for breast cancer.
Mark Skolnick talks about the hunt for BRCA1.
Mary-Claire King recalls her reaction when she heard that the Skolnick team had successfully cloned BRCA1 and made it to the finish line first.
Mary-Claire King talks about the value of using the centuries-old tool of family pedigrees to gain insight into patterns of inheritance of genetic disorders.
Mary-Claire King reflects on how knowledge gained from the identification of BRCA1 and BRCA2 could lead to improved cancer treatments.
MARY-CLAIRE KING (1946- )