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Victor Almon McKusick

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 19 August 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1351
  1. Ned Stafford

    Father of medical genetics

    Victor McKusick was acknowledged throughout the world as a visionary medical researcher. He won prestigious medical science awards and membership to the US National Academy of Sciences. But, despite all the acclaim, he remained for more than half a century until the end of his life a teacher at heart.

    “We all agree throughout the world that Victor McKusick was the leading figure in genetics in medicine,” says Giovani Romeo, president of the European Genetics Foundation, who as a young postdoctoral student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, met McKusick 40 years ago. “But the main mission in his life was to teach.” He was very tolerant and supportive, giving students freedom to “do their own thing.” And, unlike many European professors, he was informal and easygoing. “He was very American in this regard.”

    One could say that teaching was in McKusick’s genes. His father had been a high school principal before turning to dairy farming, his mother an elementary school teacher before marrying. McKusick and his twin brother were born in 1921, two …

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