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Janet D. Rowley, M.D., Receives the AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research

April 14, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Janet D. Rowley, M.D., will receive the seventh annual American Association for Cancer Research Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010.

Rowley, the Blum-Riese distinguished service professor in the departments of medicine, molecular genetics and cell biology, and human genetics at the University of Chicago, is widely regarded as one of the founders and a major champion of modern cancer cytogenetics that helped open the field of molecular oncology. Her identification of recurring chromosome translocations in hematological malignancies was a landmark discovery that revolutionized the scientific view of the importance of recurring chromosome abnormalities in cancer cells.

“Dr. Rowley has made exceptional contributions to cancer science and medicine,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “Not only has her work had a positive impact on progress in basic science and the growing knowledge of cancer genetics, but it has also been important in the treatment of patients. There are many people alive today because of Dr. Rowley’s work.”

The AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research was established in 2004 to honor an individual who has made significant, fundamental contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a body of work. These contributions, whether they have been in research, leadership or mentorship, must have a lasting impact on the cancer field and must demonstrate a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.

In 1972, Rowley discovered the first two recurring chromosome translocations, one of which resulted in the Philadelphia chromosome seen in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), which contributed to the development of STI-571 (Gleevec or Imatinib). She subsequently discovered six other translocations and/or chromosomal inversions. Among her numerous scientific contributions, Rowley was the first to map the location of the myeloid-lymphoid leukemia (MLL) gene.

Internationally renowned for her work in the discovery of molecular genetic alterations found in human malignancies, Rowley’s studies of chromosome abnormalities in leukemia and lymphoma have provided critical scientific insights that have led to cures for previously untreatable cancers. Her discoveries have resulted in more accurate diagnostic techniques and the development of effective treatment protocols targeted to particular patient subgroups.

Rowley earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree (1944), a Bachelor of Science degree (1946) and a Doctor of Medicine degree (1948) from the University of Chicago. She completed a medical internship at the U.S. Public Health Service Marine Hospital in Chicago in 1951. A faculty member at the University of Chicago since 1962, Rowley’s laboratory continues to explore new areas of research, including the pattern of gene and microRNA expression in normal hematopoietic cells and acute myelogenous leukemia cells with recurring translocations.

Among her numerous honors, Rowley was awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the 1998 Albert Lasker Clinical Research Award, the 1998 National Medal of Science, the 1989 Charles S. Mott Prize from General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, and the AACR’s G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award in 1989 and the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research in 2005. She is a member of numerous honorary societies including the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Rowley holds honorary Doctor of Science degrees from 11 institutions. She was a member of the AACR’s nominating committee and has served on the editorial board of Cancer Research. She is currently a member of the AACR.

Rowley will receive the seventh annual AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010, during the opening ceremony on Sunday, April 18, from 8:15 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. ET in Hall D of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

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Download interviews with cancer researchers and recordings of the teleconferences by subscribing to the AACR Scientific Podcasts via iTunes or an RSS Reader.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 31,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Michele Leiberman
(267) 646-0622

In Washington, D.C. April 17-21:
(202) 249-4098

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