"The race" to clone BRCA1

Science. 2014 Mar 28;343(6178):1462-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1251900.


The existence of BRCA1 was proven in 1990 by mapping predisposition to young-onset breast cancer in families to chromosome 17q21. Knowing that such a gene existed and approximately where it lay triggered efforts by public and private groups to clone and sequence it. The press baptized the competition "the race" and reported on it in detail for the next 4 years. BRCA1 was positionally cloned in September 1994. Twenty years later, I reflect on "the race" and its consequences for breast cancer prevention and treatment.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA1 Protein / history
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / history
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17 / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans


  • BRCA1 Protein