• Cancer

    Mayo Clinic’s Fergus Couch, Ph.D., awarded Basser Global Prize for BRCA Research

Dr. Fergus Couch sitting at a microscope

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania has awarded Mayo Clinic's Fergus Couch, Ph.D., with the 10th annual Basser Global Prize. This highly distinguished award recognizes a leading scientist who has advanced research related to BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. People with mutations in these genes are at an increased risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Dr. Couch is chair of the Division of Experimental Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Mayo Clinic, a professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, and holds the Zbigniew and Anna M. Scheller Professorship in Medical Research in Honor of Dr. Thomas J. McDonald. He is a member of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center where he is an investigator in the Women’s Cancer and Cell Biology research programs, and the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Cancer Specialized Program of Research Emphasis (SPORE), funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Couch’s work includes the study of inherited germline genetic alterations and their impact on the development of both breast and pancreatic cancer using genomics and cell biology approaches. His key focus areas include:

  • Identifying hereditary genes and mutations that predispose people to cancer.
  • Improving clinical testing for mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and other cancer susceptibility genes to identify individuals at increased risk of cancer and to improve risk prediction in patients at high risk of cancer.

"We are delighted that The Basser Center has chosen to recognize Dr. Couch for his outstanding contributions to the field of cancer genetics, inherited cancer risk assessment and breast cancer," says Cheryl Willman, M.D., executive director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs and director of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center. "His work has been translated to better diagnostics and means of risk assessment for individuals and families impacted by breast and other cancers."

Dr. Couch will give the keynote address at the 11th annual Basser Center for BRCA Scientific Symposium on May 9, 2023.

The Basser Global Prize provides $100,000 in unrestricted support of the winner's research efforts related to BRCA1andBRCA2, a Basser sculpture, and a $10,000 personal prize, which will be awarded at the symposium.

The Basser Center was established in 2012 by University of Pennsylvania alumni Mindy and Jon Gray in memory of Mindy Gray’s sister, Faith Basser, who died of ovarian cancer at age 44. Mindy’s sister, Shari, and her husband, Len Potter, established and endowed the Basser Global Prize.


About Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center
Designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer InstituteMayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center is defining new boundaries in possibility, focusing on patient-centered care, developing novel treatments, training future generations of cancer experts, and bringing cancer research to communities. At Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, a culture of innovation and collaboration is driving research breakthroughs that are changing approaches to cancer prevention, screening and treatment, and improving the lives of cancer survivors. Visit the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center Blog for news, information and stories from Mayo Clinic’s cancer experts and patients.

About Mayo Clinic
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