ASHG Honors Wylie Burke, MD, PhD with the 2021 Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award

Published: Monday, July 12, 2021, 12:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time

Media Contact: Krystal Foster, 631-946-0740

Wylie Burke, MD, PhD Recipient of the 2021 Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award

ROCKVILLE, MD – The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named Wylie Burke, MD, PhD, as the 2021 recipient of the Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award. Dr. Burke is a professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington, and adjunct professor of medicine (in the Division of Medical Genetics).

“It is an honor to present the McKusick Award to Dr. Wylie Burke,” ASHG President Gail Jarvik, MD, PhD said. “For decades she has been a national leader in the ethical and policy implications of human genome research, work that very much advances human genetics and genomics in the science and advocacy domains. Additionally, she has a demonstrated ability to provide impactful answers to fundamental questions in human genetics and genomics, respectfully engaging in difficult topics.”

This award, which includes a plaque with a $10,000 prize, is named in honor of the late Victor A. McKusick, MD and is bestowed upon an individual who has exhibited exemplary leadership and vision in advancing the ASHG mission through the promotion and successful assimilation of genetics and genomics knowledge into the broader scientific community in areas ranging from science, medicine, public policy, and/or health.

“Dr. Burke’s award is very timely, given her lifetime of work in bioethics and research in underserved communities/populations,” said Robin L. Bennett, MS, CGC, Director, University of Washington Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, in her nomination letter. “Her transformative work with tribal communities in Alaska, Washington and Montana, contributing to frameworks for effective research partnerships to execute genomic research approved by tribal leadership includes Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network, producing knowledge about tribal members’ views on genetic services and testing; identifying approaches to resolve research ethics policy challenges; and identifying novel variation relevant to pharmacogenomics.”

Dr. Burke’s work focuses on the ethical and policy implications of genetic information in research, public health, and clinical care. She founded the University of Washington Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality, an NHGRI-funded center addressing the implications of genomic research for underserved communities; and co-directs the Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network, a research partnership involving universities and tribal communities in Alaska, Montana, and Washington.

She received a PhD in Genetics and an MD from the University of Washington and completed Internal Medicine residency training at the University of Washington, where she was also a Medical Genetics fellow. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and past president of the American Society of Human Genetics.

Although ASHG made the decision to host the Society’s annual meeting virtually, the exact timing of the Victor A. McKusick Award Presentation is not yet known. An update will be provided as soon as information is available.


About the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Human Genetics is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. Its nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics. The Society serves scientists, health professionals, and the public by providing forums to: (1) share research results through the ASHG Annual Meeting and in The American Journal of Human Genetics; (2) advance genetic research by advocating for research support; (3) educate current and future genetics professionals, health care providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and (4) promote genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies. For more information, visit:

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