Though not a household name, the impact that Victor McKusick had on medicine is profound: He was a pioneer in the field of genetics, showing the role that genes play in inherited diseases and abnormalities, ranging from Marfan's syndrome to dwarfism. Now taken for granted, the genetic link between parents and offspring was not well established until McKusick investigated the matter. Just four years after geneticists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helical structure of DNA, McKusick founded one of the nation's first medical genetics centers at Johns Hopkins University in 1957. He continued to teach and practice medicine at the Baltimore institution for over 60 years. To document his discoveries and those of other geneticists, McKusick founded a journal called Mendelian Inheritance in Man (online version), which now lists some 19,000 identified genetic disorders. Besides these duties, he edited the journal Medicine and received several prestigious awards in his lifetime, including the National Medal of Science in 2001, the U.S.'s highest scientific honor. He died Tuesday from complications of cancer at his home in Towson, Maryland.