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This Year's Medal Winners

The University of Washington's Mary-Claire King and entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg are among this year's National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipients.

US President Barack Obama announced yesterday the new recipients of the medals, which recognize people who've made significant contributions to science or technology. "Science and technology are fundamental to solving some of our Nation's biggest challenges," Obama says in a statement. "The knowledge produced by these Americans today will carry our country's legacy of innovation forward and continue to help countless others around the world. Their work is a testament to American ingenuity."

King is best known for linking mutations in the BRCA1 gene to breast cancer risk, showing that there is a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. She has also, UW notes, pioneered the use of genetics to resolve human rights abuses. King is being awarded the National Medal of Science.

Rothberg, meanwhile, has founded a number of biotech and sequencing companies like 454 Life Science, CuraGen, Ion Torrent, Raindance Technologies, and, most recently, 4Catalyzer. He is being awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

"My motivation for developing high-speed ways to understand a person's genetic makeup was personal — my son was rushed to the newborn intensive care unit at Yale, and I wanted to know why," Rothberg tells YaleNews. "I'm gratified that answering that question allowed me to take a journey with the most creative scientists, engineers, and physicians, and ultimately to help others."

Other awardees include Stanford University School of Medicine's Stanley Falkow, Rakesh Jain from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Nancy Ho from Green Tech America and Purdue University.