Annual Meeting Report

Keynote Address: Perhaps in My Next Life

Speaker: Mary-Claire King, PhD Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine University of Washington Seattle, WA Reporter: Peter J. Olson, ELS Senior Copyediting Coordinator Sheridan Journal Services Waterbury, VT As children, many of us are fairly certain about what we want to be when we grow up. Some of us follow our original path, whereas others forsake it for a very different one—and in still other cases, those paths merge fortuitously somewhere along the way. Such has been the odyssey of this year’s Keynote speaker, who from the very beginning of her speech made clear her admiration for the path chosen by her audience. Dr. Mary-Claire King, a human geneticist renowned for her groundbreaking identification of the breast cancer gene BRCA1, once considered an alternate niche for herself. Her natural love of language as a child blossomed further during her years as an undergraduate at Carleton College, and although she was also drawn to the field of mathematics, she recognized that she was “simply not talented enough to be a serious mathematician.” It took a transformative experience at the University of California, Berkeley, to propel her away from journalism toward the field of genetics; yet her two passions became inextricably intertwined years later when her work in the lab led to a life of frequent and extensive collaboration with science editors. It is this union that has since afforded her the insight to identify what she termed “three classes of challenges”—and the resultant responsibilities—shared by scientists and journal editors today. Dr. […]

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