Irene Uchida

Irene Ayako Uchida, OC, geneticist (born 8 April 1917 in Vancouver, BC; died 30 July 2013 in Toronto, ON). Dr. Uchida pioneered the field of cytogenetics in Canada, enabling early screening for chromosomal abnormalities (i.e., changes in chromosomes caused by genetic mutations). She discovered that women who receive X-rays during pregnancy have a higher chance of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. She also discovered that the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome may come from either parent, not only the mother.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

Irene Ayako Uchida, OC, geneticist (born 8 April 1917 in Vancouver, BC; died 30 July 2013 in Toronto, ON). Dr. Uchida pioneered the field of cytogenetics in Canada, enabling early screening for chromosomal abnormalities (i.e., changes in chromosomes caused by genetic mutations). She discovered that women who receive X-rays during pregnancy have a higher chance of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. She also discovered that the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome may come from either parent, not only the mother. Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.


Photographic portrait of Irene Uchida

Honours and Awards

  • Woman of the Year, Women’s Advertising and Sales Club, Winnipeg (1963)
  • Woman of the Century, National Council of Jewish Women, Manitoba (1967)
  • President, American Society of Human Genetics (1968)
  • Achievement Award, Altrusa Club, Winnipeg (1969)
  • Named one of 25 Outstanding Women, International Women’s Year, Ontario (1975)
  • Named one of 1,000 Canadian Women of Note 1867–1967, Media Club of Canada and Women’s Press Club of Toronto (1983)
  • Officer, Order of Canada (1993)
  • Founder’s Award, Canadian College of Medical Geneticists (1995)
  • Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Western Ontario (1996)
  • Honorary Doctor of Science, McMaster University (2000)

  • Key Terms: Irene Uchida

    Chromosomal abnormalities

    Changes to the number or structure of chromosomes that result from mutations. Chromosomal abnormalities can cause conditions including Down syndrome.

    Chromosome

    A microscopic structure that carries genes.

    Cytogenetics

    The study of chromosomes in cells under a light microscope.

    Fluorescent chromosome banding

    The use of fluorescent staining methods to visualize light and dark patterns of condensed chromosomes under a fluorescent microscope during karyotyping.

    Karyotyping

    The analysis, using a light microscope, of the number, size and appearance of chromosomes.

    Trisomy

    Conditions in which chromosomes are repeated three times instead of the typical two. These include trisomy-18 (Edwards syndrome), trisomy-13 (Patau syndrome) and trisomy-21 (Down syndrome).

    Further Reading

    • Kim Etingoff, Major Women in Science: Women in Medicine (2014).

    External Links

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