Molecular geneticist who was a leading contributor to the Human Genome Project
In 2003 the Human Genome Project (HGP) published the complete sequence of human DNA. Sue Povey, who has died aged 76, contributed greatly to this international collaborative project with her team at University College London, her work as a molecular geneticist having started much earlier, in the late 1960s. She was motivated throughout by a strong interest in people and disease.
At the outset she exploited newly developed enzyme detection systems that revealed differences between individuals and among species, allowing her to solve a number of longstanding puzzles. One was mapping the chromosomal location of human genes, initially by family studies, which use inheritance patterns across the generations, like Gregor Mendel’s pioneering work, to identify closely linked genes. Later mapping used human-mouse hybrid cell culture. In this approach, genes are assigned to specific human chromosomes by observing their coordinated presence or absence.