Anita Elizabeth Harding (17 September 1952 – 11 September 1995) was a British neurologist, and Professor of Clinical Neurology at the Institute of Neurology of the University of London. She is known for the discovery with Ian Holt and John Morgan-Hughes of the "first identification of a mitochondrial DNA mutation in human disease and the concept of tissue heteroplasmy of mutant mitochondrial DNA", published in Nature in 1986.
Born in Birmingham, Harding was educated at the King Edward VI High School for Girls and the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, where she qualified in 1975. She married neurology professor P.K. Thomas two years later, and trained as a neurologist.
She died of colorectal cancer, 6 days before her 43rd birthday and shortly before she was to take up the Chair in Clinical Neurology at the Institute of Neurology in Queen Square, London. On learning of her terminal condition she is reported to have said "[A]t least I won't have to buy Windows 95".
In 1995 she was posthumously awarded the Association of British Neurologists Medal for her contributions to the science of neurology.
Harding made several significant contributions in the field of inherited neurologic disorders. Her major achievements were:
- Classification of the peripheral neuropathies and hereditary ataxias, the first identification of a mitochondrial DNA mutation in human disease (in Kearns-Sayre syndrome)
- Identification of trinucleotide repeats in degenerative neurologic diseases (e.g. Huntington's disease).
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