Janet D. Rowley, MD, DSc, Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and Human Genetics, has been named this year’s recipient of the Partners in Discovery Award from the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation (UCCRF) Women’s Board.
The award was presented at Saturday’s 47th Annual Grand Auction and Gala, the principle philanthropic event hosted yearly by the UCCRF Women’s Board.
The theme of the evening was “Visionnaire,” and Dr. Rowley fits that description perfectly.
As a cancer researcher in the 1970s, she was a pioneer in understanding the link between cancer and genetics, demonstrating that specific chromosomal changes caused some types of leukemia.
Though she has won numerous awards and prizes for her work, including the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Award, the Japan Prize for Healthcare and Medical Technology and a share of this year’s Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, it took years to win hard-fought recognition by her peers earlier on.
Eventually, her discovery led to the development of the drug imatinib (Gleevec), one of the most successful targeted cancer therapies.
“Rowley’s contributions changed the way leukemias and lymphomas are diagnosed and treated, and for that she is a true visionnaire,” said Michelle M. Le Beau, PhD, Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor of Medicine and director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a letter included in the program for the Nov. 9 event.
Le Beau also praised members of the Women’s Board for their “tireless efforts to jump start the research being conducted by the brilliant minds at the Cancer Center.”
All proceeds from the Grand Auction, one of the oldest auctions in Chicago, benefit cancer research at the University of Chicago.