National Academy of Sciences Honors Rowley

January 21, 2010

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has recognized Janet D. Rowley, MD, as one of 17 individuals who have made extraordinary scientific achievements in the areas of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and psychology. The award, consisting of a medal and a prize of $25,000, recognizes important contributions to the medical sciences. An awards ceremony for the recipients will take place on April 25 during the Academy's annual meeting.

Rowley, 84, the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago, will receive the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal. She is beaing honored for her discovery of recurring chromosome translocations that characterize specific hematological malignancies, a "landmark event," according to the NAS, "that caused a major shift in the paradigms relating to cancer biology in the 1970s and paved the way for development of specific treatment for two leukemias."

Rowley's contributions to identifying chromosomal abnormalities in leukemias and lymphomas have changed the way these diseases are diagnosed and treated. Today, newer techniques can identify the DNA damage within individual cells, offering a much more precise diagnosis of disease -- and more effective treatments.

Rowley has received many honors, including both the Lasker Award and the National Medal of Science in 1998 and, in 2009, the Genetics Prize from The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, presented in a ceremony at the White House on August 12.

Additional winners of the NAS awards include, Margaret J. Geller, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, who won the James Craig Watson Medal, and Gerald F. Joyce, professor in the departments of chemistry and molecular biology at the Scripps Research Institute, who won the first Stanley Miller Medal for Early Earth and Life Sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Since 1863, the National Academy of Sciences has served to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government.

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