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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site


Picture of Gail P. Jarvik
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Gail P. Jarvik, M.D.

“I've always been fascinated by genetics and helping improve people's health through genetics.”


Senator Maria Cantwell



In high school and college, Gail Jarvik was drawn to genetics because of the deep research the field required. After earning both an M.D. and a Ph.D, she began to concentrate in medical genetics, working to target heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

"Medical genetics is exciting," says Jarvik. "Research into genetics and common diseases is just starting to take off, and we can now help many people. It gives me the opportunity to translate research into human health."

She has helped to pioneer genetic heart disease research by identifying the genes that increase hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and mapping those that may lead to heart disease. She also studies the genetic factors in Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.

In addition, she is teaming with investigators at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to study the genetic factors affecting the neurological health of infants who undergo cardiovascular surgery. "After surgery, some children do very well, and others don't. We need to find out why," she declares.

Nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jarvik heads the Division of Medical Genetics, and is the Arno G. Motulsky Professor of Medicine, at the University of Washington Medical Center, in Seattle.

She is a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences and a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies, which cited her for "extraordinary service." Her research leadership is widely recognized, and she chairs a Genomics, Computational Biology and Technology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to her duties as an educator, researcher and administrator for the University of Washington's Division of Medical Genetics, she continues as a practicing clinician in Internal Medicine and Medical Genetics.

In demand as a speaker on the genetics of common diseases, Jarvik is widely published in medical journals and has served on the editorial boards of several, including the Journal of Lipid Research. Senator Cantwell praises her as a physician who has set the highest standard for academic and technical excellence, professionalism and commitment. "Not only is she a great doctor and medical researcher, but she is also a wife and mother of three," adds Cantwell.

Reflecting on her career, Jarvik muses that she would like to be remembered for "chipping away at cardio-vascular diseases and other common diseases, and using genetics to understand, treat and finally overcome some of these conditions."

And what is her greatest achievement? "My family," she declares.



Named Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies in recognition of "extraordinary service"; four organizations comprise the Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council


Becomes Professor of Medicine, Division of Medical Genetics, Adjunct Professor of Genome Sciences, and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle


Appointed Chair, National Institutes of Health Genomic, Computational Biology and Technologies (GCAT) Study Section


Named Arno G. Motulsky Professor of Medicine, University of Washington


Appointed Head, Division of Medical Genetics, and Professor of Genome Sciences, University of Washington




Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Iowa


Internal Medicine

Sub Specialty

Medical Genetics