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Alexander Bearn Dies

Alexander Bearn, a pioneer in the field of human biochemical genetics, died of heart failure at the age of 86. Bearn determined that Wilson's disease, which is marked by a buildup of copper in organs, is genetic and is caused by a recessive trait, reports the New York Times. Bearn worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and Cornell University Medical College before moving into industry. He retired from Merck in 1988. "He was one of the pioneers of the application of genetics to medicine," says the University of Washington's Arno Motulsky.