For the discovery that certain genetic elements are not static, but can move from one location to another on DNA.
Thus, these transposable elements serve a fundamental role in gene control and in genetic recombination based on changes in DNA structure, which allow in turn for the development of new species.
To Dr. McClintock‘s brilliant concepts, and her pioneering studies made 40 years ago—with monumental implications not fully appreciated until years later by the scientific community at large—the whole wave of current experiments in genetics owes an incalculable debt.
Dr. McClintock, today widely considered America’s most distinguished researcher in the field of cytogenetics, postulated and then validated that transposable elements modify the control of gene action in all living organisms, whether in plant, animal, or human life.
Her seminal discoveries provide an explanation for the extensive genetic variability that occurs in all organisms in nature.
The information so derived could facilitate the selection of those particular traits that are especially desired in plants and animals, and might someday lead to the correction of flawed or mutant genes that cause human genetic diseases.
To Dr. Barbara McClintock, geneticist extraordinary, unique in the annals of science, this 1981 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award is given.