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MCW Commencement Planned for May 16

May 6, 2014

Breast cancer genetics pioneer Dr. Mary-Claire King to receive honorary degree, speak at commencement May 16; William Petasnick and Tim Size to receive honorary degrees

The Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) 101st annual commencement exercises will be held May 16 at 4:00 p.m. at the Milwaukee Theatre. MCW’s Medical School and its Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will award a total of 188 M.D., 47 Ph.D., 25 M.S., 6 M.A., and 13 Master of Public Health degrees.

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., American Cancer Society Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, will receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement address.

The College will also honor William Petasnick and Tim Size, Wisconsin health leaders, with honorary doctoral degrees.

Dr. Mary-Claire King’s groundbreaking discovery of the gene BRCA1, which is responsible for inherited predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer, proved for the first time that breast cancer can be inherited, and revolutionized the study of other common human diseases linked to genetics. She has also studied the genetic causes of schizophrenia and birth disorders affecting children. She pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations, identifying kidnapped children in Argentina and developing the approach of sequencing DNA preserved in human remains. That method has now been used to investigate human rights violations on six continents.

Dr. King’s career began with her widely cited Ph.D. dissertation in 1973, when she proved that humans and chimpanzees are 99-percent genetically identical.

Dr. King is currently a professor in the departments of medicine and genome sciences at the University of Washington. She has served on the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, and multiple councils and study sections of the NIH. She is past president of the American Society of Human Genetics and a current member of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

William “Bill” Petasnick served as the Chief Executive Officer of Froedtert Health for more than 19 years. Under his leadership, the $1.5 billion healthcare provider evolved into a large healthcare system, with an academic medical center, multiple community hospitals and physician groups serving southeastern Wisconsin. As a community leader, Petasnick was a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, board member of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, and a founding member of the Milwaukee Healthcare Partnership. In 2005, he was awarded the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award. He remains active in healthcare and health policy as a member of the Froedtert Health board of directors, the chair of the Health Forum Board, and a strategic advisor and board member to several private healthcare organizations and companies.

Tim Size is a longtime national advocate for rural health. In 1979, he helped found the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative in Sauk City, and currently serves as executive director of the organization. Among various current state appointments in Wisconsin, Tim is vice-chair of WHEFA, the state’s bond authority for health and educational facilities, a founding member of the Rural Health Development Council and the Healthy Wisconsin Leadership Institute’s steering committee and on the Board of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. In the Midwest, he serves on the Rural Health Research Center Advisory Board at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and on the Board of Directors of the Essentia Institute of Rural Health. Nationally he currently serves as the founding co-chair of the National Rural Health Foundation to support the development of the next generation of rural health leaders.

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