Anne McKusick, M.D., was part of a significant number of scientists involved in wartime research on the atomic bomb who abandoned physics to join the biomedical sciences. Bringing different approaches and a new perspective, many in this group have made significant contributions to medicine. McKusick made her mark in rheumatology and as a teacher, and found teaching clinical skills and medical ethics one of the most rewarding experiences of her career.
Anne McKusick was born in Rochester, New York, and began her career as a physicist, studying first at McMaster University in Toronto, Ontario, from 1939 to 1942, and then earning her bachelor's degree at Cornell University in 1944. From April 1944 until December 1945, she worked as a junior physicist with the Manhattan Project (the code name for the U.S. project to develop an atomic bomb) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She also did postgraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1946, and in 1950 Dr. McKusick received her doctor of medicine degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She also completed her internship and residency at Johns Hopkins. She had a trainee fellowship under the Arthritis Foundation from 1954 to 1962, and most of her career, from 1954 to 1993, was as a specialist in rheumatology.
Dr. McKusick has done extensive research in clinical and metabolic studies of the shoulder-hand syndrome among tuberculosis patients from 1958 to 1961, and bacterial studies of paranasal sinuses in rheumatoid arthritis from 1961 to 1964. She was also involved in establishing the Arthritis Clinics at Baltimore City Hospitals (now Bayview Medical Center), where she worked from 1954 to 1982.
Dr. McKusick was an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1969 until her retirement in 1993. She was married to Victor A. McKusick, M.D., a noted geneticist who was also chairman of the department of medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital for more than a decade. They have three children. As Dr. McKusick noted looking back at her life in medicine, "Raising children and meeting so many interesting people, together with the joy of clinical practice and teaching has made my life richly rewarding."