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Geneticist Mary-Claire King receives the 2013 Paul Ehrlich Prize
Date:3/14/2013

of the embryo," states King. "These diseases are genetic in origin, but they are acquired conditions and not hereditary." King believes that the new mutations impair brain development and in this way contribute to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. She has also studied what genes can tell us about human evolution. When people move from one place to another, they take their genes with them and pass them on to their descendants in their new location. That explains why the genome of modern Homo sapiens is something like a logbook, recording the travels and encounters of our ancestors, but also a compendium reflecting the diversity of human life.

Reuniting families and giving victims names

Mary-Claire King is also held in high esteem for her humanitarian commitment because she uses genetic technologies to expose violations of human rights. Since 1984 she has been working with the grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo (Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo) in Argentina. These grandmothers are demanding the return of their grandchildren to their biological families. The children were kidnapped by the military junta between 1976 and 1983, orphaned and given up for adoption to sympathizers of the junta. Since the Argentine authorities demanded sound proof for the children's biological kinship, the Abuelas turned to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1983, requesting assistance. Mary-Claire King gave them her wholehearted support. "I agreed to help at the time," says the prizewinner, "because the grandmothers' concerns were very near to my heart. My own daughter was the age of the grandchildren for whom they were fighting and I myself was the age of the women who had given birth to these children and who had been murdered by the military junta." At the time of the military putsch, King was visiting professor in Santiago de Chile, so she knew what military governments are capable of doing. King first identified the children by means of tissue charact
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Contact: Dr. Hildegard Kaulen
Paul-Ehrlich-Stiftung@pvw.uni-frankfurt.de
49-612-252-718
Goethe University Frankfurt
Source:Eurekalert  

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Geneticist Mary-Claire King receives the 2013 Paul Ehrlich Prize
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