He was the key architect of the Human Genome Project, winner of the National Medal of Science in 2001 and the Japan Prize earlier this year. He was born on Oct. 21, 1921, a few minutes after his identical twin brother, Vincent L. McKusick, former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Officials at Johns Hopkins University, where Victor McKusick was a professor of genetics and the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine was named for him in 1999, mourned his loss.
"We have lost a giant," said Johns Hopkins Medicine dean and chief executive officer Edward D. Miller. "He spent virtually all of his incredible career at Hopkins, but his influence and legacy reach around the world."
The physician and his colleagues taught a two-week course in genetics each summer at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. It became a highly respected course in the subject, attracting more than 4,000 students, doctors and researchers over the years.
"Some of my colleagues thought I was committing professional suicide because I had a reputation in cardiology and was shifting over to focus for the most part on rare, unimportant conditions, and so forth," Victor McKusick said in an interview earlier this year with The Baltimore Sun.
The program began last year with an initial pledge of $100,000 from Pierce Atwood LLP, the Portland-based law firm where McKusick the lawyer began his career. The program will reach out to members of Maine’s immigrant community, members of Maine’s Indian tribes and diverse applicants nationwide, according to the law school.
In addition to his brother, Victor McKusick is survived by his wife and their children: Carol Anne McKusick of Urbana, Ill.; Kenneth Andrew McKusick of Ruxton, Md.; and the Rev. Victor Wayne McKusick of Herkimer, N.Y.