Charles Epstein (geneticist)

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Charles Epstein (geneticist)
Born (1933-09-03)September 3, 1933
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died February 15, 2011(2011-02-15) (aged 77)
Tiburon, California
Nationality American
Fields Medical genetics
Institutions University of Washington
University of California, San Francisco
Buck Institute for Age Research
Alma mater Central High School (Philadelphia)
Harvard College
Harvard Medical School
Known for Down syndrome
Unabomber victim
Spouse Lois Epstein (m.1956-2011) (his death) 4 children

Charles Joseph Epstein (September 3, 1933 – February 15, 2011)[1][2][3] of Tiburon, California, was a geneticist who was severely injured in 1993 when he became a victim of a mail bomb attack by the Unabomber.


He was first in his 1959 class at Harvard Medical School, and then interned at Harvard's Peter Bent Brigham hospital.


Epstein began his work in medical genetics—the application of genetics research to human care—in a fellowship with Arno Motulsky,[4] one of the founders of medical genetics, at his Seattle University of Washington lab. While there, Epstein worked to understand the nature of Werner's syndrome, a genetic disease that causes premature aging.[5]

He is most notable for conducting groundbreaking research on Down syndrome.[6] In 1967 he became the chairman of the medical genetics division in the pediatrics department of UC San Francisco. He did research on making a mouse model for Down syndrome.

During the last 10 years of his life, Epstein participated in the formation of the Buck Institute located in Novato, California, serving as chairman of its scientific advisory board and board of trustees.


In June 1993 Epstein received a mail bomb sent by Ted Kaczynski, known at the time as the Unabomber. The explosion severed several of Epstein's fingers, caused abdominal injuries, and resulted in a partial loss of his hearing.


Epstein died on February 15, 2011 after a protracted struggle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 77.[7]



  1. ^ [1], Charles Epstein, Leading Medical Geneticist Injured by Unabomber, Dies at 77, February 23, 2011.
  2. ^ [2], North Bay survivor of Unabomber attack dies at 77, February 17, 2011.
  3. ^ [3], Dr. Charles Epstein, Down syndrome pioneer, dies, February 20, 2011.
  4. ^ Arno Motulsky
  5. ^ Hereditary dysplasia of bone with kyphoscoliosis, contractures, and abnormally shaped ears
  6. ^ Epstein CJ (June 2006). "Down's syndrome: critical genes in a critical region". Nature 441 (7093): 582–83. doi:10.1038/441582a. PMID 16738647. 
  7. ^ [4], Charles Epstein, February 20, 2011.