College of American Pathologists

  Media Alert


Published on June 19, 2013

Contact: Julie Monzo
Phone: 800-323-4040, ext. 7538

Supreme Court Invalidated Gene Patents: What’s Next?

Media are Invited to Register Now For a Live, CAP-Exclusive Event

Genomic medicine has the potential to be a cornerstone of medical testing, treatment, and clinical integration. Without doubt, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision invalidating Myriad’s patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2 is already changing the testing landscape for those genes. What other changes can we expect? How will the decision impact pathology and our patients? What did it take to win the case?

As a co-plaintiff in this landmark case, the CAP and all pathologists have cause to celebrate the Court’s ruling. The CAP has assembled a panel of leading experts, including the researcher who discovered BRCA1 and BRCA2, and the ACLU attorney who argued for the plaintiffs and won. Listen as they, along with two leading molecular genetic pathologists, discuss the Supreme Court decision and the impact it will have on patient care.

Register online now.

Confirmed Speakers

Mary-Claire King, PhD

Mary-Claire King, PhDMary-Claire King, PhD, is American Cancer Society professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. She was the first to prove that breast cancer is inherited in some families, as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. In addition to the inherited breast and ovarian cancer, her research interests include the genetic bases of schizophrenia, the genetic causes of Mendelian disorders, and human genetic diversity and evolution. She pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations, developing the approach of sequencing mitochondrial DNA preserved in human remains, then applying this method to the identification of kidnapped children in Argentina and subsequently to cases of human rights violations on six continents.

Dr. King has served on the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH, the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), and multiple councils and study sections of the NIH and the National Academy of Sciences. She is past president of the American Society of Human Genetics.

Dr. King has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, to the Institute of Medicine, American Philosophical Society, and as a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. She received the Clowes Award in Basic Research from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Genetics Award from the Gruber Foundation, the Weizmann Award for Women and Science, the Heineken Prize for Medicine from the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Clinical Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Award for Basic Science, and the University of California Medal. She has received 13 honorary doctoral degrees, from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Leuven (Belgium), Tel Aviv (Israel), and Ben Gurion (Israel) Universities; the State University of New York; and Carleton, Smith, Bard, and Dartmouth Colleges.

She received her BA cum laude in mathematics from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, her PhD in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley, and her postdoctoral training at UC San Francisco. Her PhD dissertation with Allan Wilson in 1973 was the demonstration that DNA sequences of humans and chimpanzees are 99% identical. She was professor at UC Berkeley from 1976–1995 and at the University of Washington in Seattle since 1995.

Debra G.B. Leonard, MD, PhD, FCAP

Debra G.B. Leonard, MD, PhD, FCAPDebra G.B. Leonard, MD, PhD, FCAP, is professor and chair of the Department of Pathology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, and physician leader of pathology and laboratory medicine, Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont. She is an expert in molecular pathology of genetic, cancer and infectious diseases, and policy development for genomic medicine. Her MD and PhD degrees were completed at the New York University School of Medicine, where she also did her postgraduate clinical training in anatomic pathology, including a surgical pathology fellowship. She is certified by the American Board of Pathology in anatomic pathology and by the American Boards of Pathology and Medical Genetics in molecular genetic pathology. Currently, Dr. Leonard is a member of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health, and previously she served as a member of the IOM Committee on the Review of Genomics-Based Tests for Predicting Outcomes in Clinical Trials. She is a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists and chair of the CAP’s Personalized Healthcare Committee. Dr. Leonard is a past member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society (SACGHS) to Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, and a past president and 2009 Leadership Award recipient of the Association for Molecular Pathology. She has spoken widely on various molecular pathology test services, the future of molecular pathology, the impact of gene patents on molecular pathology, and the practice of genomic medicine.

Sandra S. Park, JD

Sandra S. Park, JDSandra S. Park is a staff attorney in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project. She served as lead counsel in the lawsuit challenging patents held by Myriad Genetics for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Ms. Park has advocated for the rights of survivors of gender-based violence throughout her legal career, and she engages in litigation, policy advocacy, and public education at the national, state, and local levels to advance the rights and civil liberties of women and girls. Before joining the ACLU, she worked as a Skadden Fellow at the Legal Aid Society of New York and clerked for US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Law.

Margaret L. Gulley, MD, FCAP

Margaret L. Gulley, MD, FCAPMargaret L. Gulley, MD, FCAP, is professor and director of molecular pathology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a physician, she serves patients by examining their DNA or RNA for genetic patterns associated with cancer, inherited disease, or infectious disease. This clinical care, as well as Dr. Gulley’s research, is aimed at better categorizing genetic information in a manner that optimizes patient outcomes. Dr. Gulley also works with professional societies and governmental groups to promote high-quality molecular services in clinical laboratories worldwide. She has won leadership awards from the College of American Pathologists and the Association for Molecular Pathology. She was recently named as among the Best Doctors in America.

Reporters Note: Dr. Leonard serves as CAP’s official spokesperson on the Myriad case and on the issue of gene patents. Contact Jodi Greenblatt (202-354-7102) to arrange an interview.

About the College of American Pathologists

As the leading organization for board-certified pathologists, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. With more than 18,000 physician members, the CAP has led as the gold standard in laboratory accreditation for 50 years with more than 7,300 CAP-accredited laboratories in 50 countries. Find more information about the CAP at