Dr. Janet Rowley
2003 Mendel Medal Recipient

Dr. Janet Rowley has contributed significantly to advances in understanding of genetic changes in cancer. She focused on chromosome abnormalities in human leukemia and lymphoma and in 1972, using new techniques of chromosome identification, she discovered the first consistent chromosome translocation in any human cancer. During her career she has identified more than a dozen different recurring translocations. These discoveries have revolutionized the view of hematologists/oncologists and cancer biologists regarding the critical importance of recurring chromosome abnormalities in cancer cells. Moreover, she showed that many different tumors were each associated with specific cytogenetic abnormalities that reflect critical genetics changes in the malignant cells of that tumor. Her early insights have culminated in the work of others leading to specific treatments for two of the translocations she discovered namely, all trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) for the 15;17 translocation inacute promyelocytic leukemia and STI571 (GLEEVAC) for the 9;22 translocation in chronic myelogenous leukemia. In addition, collaborating with hematologists, she showed that recurring chromosome abnormalities in acute leukemia were the most important prognostic indicators of a patientís response to treatment and survival. She and her colleagues have cloned a number of different translocations breakpoints, providing insights into the identity of new genes involved in leukemia.

Dr. Rowley continues to open up new areas of research and make landmark contributions to cancer biology, diagnosis, and treatment today. Her rapid application of the recently developed technique of spectral karyotyping (1996), has resolved new chromosomal rearrangements associated with leukemias opening up yet another series of discoveries. Her most recent foray is into the analysis of genome-wide gene expression in hematopoietic cells. Her colleagues have modified existing techniques and have combined them in unique ways to be able to detect the multitude of genes expressed at fewer than 3 to 5 copies per cell. At present her group has completed gene expression analysis of normal myeloid cells as well as B and T cells at various stages of differentiation. These data will provide the benchmark against which to compare identical analyses of gene expression in a series of myeloid and lymphoid leukemias with different translocations. This research will help to identify the additional genetic changes that clearly collaborate with the fusion genes to produce a fully leukemic cell.

Dr. Rowley has received numerous awards including Dameshek Prize (1982), Kuwait Cancer prize (1984), Karnofsky Prize (1987), Prix Antoine Lacassagne (1987), King Faisal Prize (1988), Clowes Award (1989), Mott Prize (1989), Allen Award (1991), Gairdner Award (1996), Medal of Honor, ACS (1996), Lasker Award (1998), Medal of Science (1998), and American Academy of Achievement (1999). She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1984), Institute of Medicine (1985), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), and American Philosophical Society (1993.) She has received seven honorary degrees including one from Oxford in June 2000. Along with her friend, Felix Mitelman, she cofounded and is coeditor of Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer, the premier cancer cytogenetic journal worldwide.

Mendel Medal Presentation Program, March 29, 2003. Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania.

Rowley, Janet Davison, physician; b. N.Y.C., Apr. 5, 1925; d. Hurford Henry and Ethel Mary (Ballantyne) Davison; m. Donald A. Rowley, Dec. 18, 1948; children: Donald, David, Robert, Roger. PhB, U. Chgo., 1944, BS, 1946, MD, 1948; DSc (hon.), U. Ariz., 1989, U. Pa., 1989, Knox Coll., 1991, U. So. Calif., 1992, St. Louis U., 1997, St. Xavier U., 1999, Oxford (Eng.) U., 2000. Diplomate Am. Bd. Med. Genetics. Rsch. asst. U. Chgo., 1949-50; intern Marine Hosp., USPHS, Chgo., 1950-51; attending physician Infant Welfare and Prenatal Clinics Dept. Pub. Health, Montgomery County, Md., 1953-54; rsch. fellow Levinson Found., Cook County Hosp., Chgo., 1955-61; clin. instr. neurology U. Ill., 1957-61; USPHS spl. trainee Radiobiology Lab. The Churchill Hosp., Oxford, England, 1961-62; rsch. assoc. dept. medicine and Argonne Cancer Rsch. Hosp. U. Chgo., 1962-69, assoc. prof. dept. medicine and Argonne Cancer Rsch. Hosp., 1969-77, prof. dept. medicine and Franklin McLean Meml. Rsch. Inst., 1977-84, Blum-Riese Disting. Svc. prof., dept. medicine and dept. molecular genetics and cell biology, 1984--, Blum-Riese Disting. Svc. prof. dept. human genetics, 1997--, interim dep. dean for sci. biol. scis. divsn., 2001--. Bd. sci. counsellors Nat. Inst. Dental Rsch., NIH, 1972-76, chmn., 1974-76; mem. Nat. Cancer Adv. Bd., Nat. Cancer Inst., 1979-84, Nat. Adv. Coun. for Human Genome Rsch. Inst., 1999--; adv. com. Frederick Cancer Rsch. Facility, 1983-84; bd. sci. counsellors Nat. Human Genome Rsch. Inst., NIH, 1994-99, chmn., 1994-97; adv. bd. Howard Hughes Med. Inst., 1989-94, MD Anderson Cancer Ctr., 1998--; vis. com. dept. applied biol. scis. MIT Corp., 1983-86; bd. sci. cons. Meml. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr., 1988-90; adv. com. Ency. Britannica U. Chgo., 1988-96; Bernard Cohen Meml. lectr. U. Pa., 1993; Katherine D. McCormick Disting. lectr. Stanford U., 1994; Donald D. Van Slyke lectr. Brookhaven Nat. Lab., 1994; Hilary Koprowski lectr. Thomas Jefferson U., 1994; W. Jack Stuckey Jr. lectr. Tulane Career Ctr., 1996; Presdl. Symposium Am. Soc. Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 1995; Brit. Jour. of Haematology Plenary lectr. Brit. Soc. Haematology, 1997; Peacock Meml. lectr. in pathology U. Tex. Southwestern Med. Sch., 1997; Cosbie lectr. Royal Coll. Physicians and Surgeons Can., 1997; Richard Brunning lectr. U. Minn., 1999; Muriel Verder Millenium lectr. Evanston Hosp., 1999; Disting. Women in Medicine and Sci. lectr. Northwestern Med. Sch., 2000; Edward C. Hill lectr. U. Calif., San Francisco, 2000; Margaret Pitman lectr. NIH, 2000; plenary spkr. Spanish Soc. Hematology, 2000. Co-founder, co-editor: Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer, mem. editl. bd.: Oncology Rsch., mem. editl. bd.: Cancer Genetics and Cytogenetics, mem. editl. bd.: Internat. Jour. Hematology, mem. editl. bd.: Genomics, mem. editl. bd.: Internat. Jour. Cancer, mem. editl. bd.: Leukemia, past. mem. editl. bd.; Blood, past. mem. editl. bd.: Cancer Rsch., past. mem. editl. bd.: Hematol. Oncology, past mem. editl. bd.: Leukemia Rsch.; contbr. chapter to books, articles to profl. jours. Adv. com. for career awards in biomed. scis. Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 1994-98; selection panel for Clin. Sci. award Doris Duke Charitable Found., 2000--; mem. Pres.'s Adv. Coun. on Bioethics, 2001--; nat. adv. com. McDonnell Found. Program for Molecular Medicine in Cancer Rsch., 1988- 98; adv. bd. Leukemia Soc. Am., 1979-84; selection com. scholar award in biomed. sci. Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, 1984-87; trustee Adler Planetarium, Chgo., 1978--; med. adv. bd. G&P Charitable Found., 1999--, Co-recipient Charles Mott prize, GM Cancer Rsch. Found., 1989; named Chicagoan of Yr., Chgo. mag., 1998; recipient First Kuwait Cancer prize, 1984, Esther Langer award, Ann Langer Cancer Rsch. Found., 1983, A. Cressy Morrison award in natural scis., N.Y. Acad. Scis., 1985, Past State Pres. award, Tex. Fedn. Bus. and Profl. Women's Clubs, 1986, Karnofsky award and lecture, Am. Soc. Clin. Oncology, 1987, Antoine Lacassagne Lique prize, Nat. Francaise Contre le Cancer, 1987, King Faisal Internat. prize in medicine (co-recipient), 1988, Katherine Berkan Judd award, Meml. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Ctr., 1989, Steven C. Beering award, U. Ind. Med. Sch., 1992, Robert de Villiers award, Leukemia Soc. Am., 1993, Kaplan Family prize for cancer rsch. excellence, Oncology Soc. Dayton, 1995, Cotlove award and lecture, Acad. Clin. Lab. Physicians and Scientists, 1995, Nilsson-Ehle lecture, Mendelian Soc. and Royal Physiographic Soc., 1995, The Gairdner Found. award, 1996, medal of honor, Basic Sci. Am. Cancer Soc., 1996, Nat. Medal of Sci., 1998, Lasker award for clin. scis., 1998, Woman Extraordinaire award, Internat. Women's Assocs., 1999,Golden Plate award, Am. Acad. Achievement, 1999, Women Achieving Excellence award, YWCA of Met. Chgo., 2000, Philip Levine award, Am. Soc. Clin. Pathology, 2001, Emile M. Chamot award, State Microsurg. Soc. Ill., 2001. Fellow: AAAS (nominating com. 1998); mem.: NAS (chmn. sect. 41 1995-99), Inst. Medicine (coun. 1988-90), Am. Assn. Cancer Rsch. (G.H.A. Clowes Meml. award 1989), Am. Soc. Hematology (lectr. Millenium Symposium 1999, Presdl. Symposium 1982, Dameshek prize 1982, Ham-Wasserman award 1995), Genetical Soc., Am. Soc. Human Genetics (pres.-elect 1992, pres. 1993, Allen award and lectr. 1991), Am. Philos. Soc., Am. Acad. Arts and Scis. (nominating com. 1998), Alpha Omega Alpha, Sigma Xi (William Proctor prize for sci. achievement 1989). Episcopalian. Home: 5310 S University Ave. Chicago IL 60615-5106 Office: U. Chgo 5841 S Maryland Ave. Rm 2115 Chicago IL 60637-1463

Who's Who in America, 2003, 57th edition. New Providence, New Jersey. Marquis Who's Who, 2002, p. 4531.

Web Links:
Interview with Janet Rowley

Janet Rowley of University of Chicago selected for President Bush's Bioethics Council
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