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Mary Lyon, discoverer of X inactivation, dies

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Mary Lyon, aged 89, on Christmas Day.

Mary was a colleague and friend to all of us, and was pivotal in leading and developing mouse genetics at Harwell. She was one of the foremost geneticists of the 20th century, and with the discovery of X inactivation and her work on the t complex, she brought fundamental and profound insights to mammalian genetics and the genetic bases of disease. Her accomplishments were widely recognised by many international honours and prizes, and she was a formidable icon to all woman making their way in science.

In her own quiet way, she was a tremendous inspiration and supporter of young scientists and all those who were starting out in a career in genetics. She would never fail to give good advice and forthright opinions to all who sought her counsel.

Her legacy will be recognised through the Mary Lyon Centre and the continuing work in mouse genetics at MRC Harwell. She remained very involved in science after retirement, and continued to follow and contribute to current developments in mammalian genetics. We celebrate her life and contributions to genetics - she was one of the greats of British science.

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