Pioneer of genetics Dr. C. Thomas Caskey dies

Dr. C. Thomas Caskey, a pioneer in genetics and genomics and a professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, has died at the age of 83. Caskey built the genetics program at Baylor from the ground up, founding what is known today as the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics and growing the department into a national leader in genetics. He is remembered for his contributions to genetic research and his dedication to mentoring and developing the next generation of scientists and physicians.

“Dr. Caskey was a visionary who saw what was possible and understood the importance genetics would play in medicine,” said Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean at Baylor. “Many scientists he mentored are now doing outstanding work around the world, as well as at Baylor College of Medicine. He was a tremendous leader and a good friend.”

Caskey was born in Lancaster, South Carolina, in 1938. He attended the University of South Carolina, where he became fascinated by chemistry, briefly before jumping directly to medical school. He later received an honorary degree in chemistry from the University in 1992. He received his medical degree from Duke University. He began his research at Duke, studying de novo purine allosteric regulation with Dr. James B. Wyngaarden. At the National Institutes of Health, under Nobel Laureate Dr. Marshall Nirenberg, he defined the “universality” of the genetic code and discovered codon-specific proteins controlling translation termination. In 1971, he moved to Baylor College of Medicine and founded the Institute for Molecular Genetics, now called the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, which has ranked No. 1 in NIH funding in the United States for the past decade.

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