Charles Epstein (geneticist)

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Charles Epstein
Born(1933-09-03)September 3, 1933
DiedFebruary 15, 2011(2011-02-15) (aged 77)
Alma materCentral High School (Philadelphia)
Harvard College
Harvard Medical School
Known forResearch in Down syndrome
Unabomber victim
Spouse(s)Lois Epstein, (m.1956-2011, his death)
Scientific career
FieldsMedical genetics
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington
University of California, San Francisco
Buck Institute for Age Research

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 a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco and the Buck Institute for Age Research.


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.[1]


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



  1. ^ a b "Charles Epstein, Leading Medical Geneticist Injured by Unabomber, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  2. ^ "North Bay survivor of Unabomber attack dies at 77 - San Jose Mercury News". Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  3. ^ Fagan, Kevin (2011-02-20). "Dr. Charles Epstein, Down syndrome pioneer, dies". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  4. ^ "UW Genome Sciences: Arno Motulsky". Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  5. ^ Epstein CJ, Graham CB, Hodgkin WE, Hecht F, Motulsky AG (1968). "Hereditary dysplasia of bone with kyphoscoliosis, contractures, and abnormally shaped ears". The Journal of Pediatrics. 73 (3): 379–86. doi:10.1016/s0022-3476(68)80115-5. PMID 5667420.
  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. ^ "Charles Epstein Obituary - San Francisco, CA | San Francisco Chronicle". Retrieved 2016-04-21.