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Leading Human Genome Project scientist, Sue Povey, dies

25 February 2019
Appeared in BioNews 988

Professor Sue Povey, a leading scientist on the Human Genome Project, has died at the age of 76. 

Professor Povey, who until her retirement was the Haldane professor of human genetics at University College London, was involved in the efforts to map the human genome from their beginnings in the late 1960s. 

Her work contributed to the foundations of the Human Genome Project, and she authored more than 60 papers on gene mapping. Professor Povey worked at the Galton Lab at UCL during the period in which it pioneered methods of gene mapping. 

Professor Povey was also involved in early discussions on ethics and genetics, and naming genes. This was particularly fraught in the early days of mapping, she recalled. 'Naming genes is a really good way of making enemies,' Professor Povey said at a seminar in 2014, looking back at the early Human Gene Mapping Workshops held in the 1970s to 1990s. 

Her achievements included identifying the cause of two types of gynaecological tumours. She also was the first to begin mapping the genetics of the condition tuberous sclerosis, discovering its link to chromosome 9 and to blood groups. 

Professor Julian Sampson, head of the Institute of Medical Genetics at Cardiff University Hospital, said: 'Sue undertook work with her own remarkable rigour, providing diagnostic and research labs across the world with a trusted source through which they could interpret their results. Sue was a wonderful person and will be very much missed.'

Her colleagues, professors Dallas Swallow and Veronica van Heyningen at UCL, wrote in the Guardian: 'Unassuming at first sight, Sue could be fierce in defence of her principles, taking on a whole committee if necessary. To enable her staff and students to attend international meetings, she would often travel at very low cost herself. Several of her students, many of them women, are now professors or in leading professional roles.'

Sue Povey obituary
The Guardian |  20 February 2019
TSC community mourns the loss of Professor Sue Povey
Tuberous Sclerosis Association |  20 February 2019
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