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Janet Rowley – 1925–2013 

janetrowley-head-mod-smallFebruary 2014 - It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Professor Janet Rowley. An inspiration and teacher to so many she will be greatly missed.

In 1973 Dr Rowley made a seminal discovery in CML when she used newly developed chromosome banding techniques to show that the Philadelphia chromosome is formed by a translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22.

This discovery led to the eventual identification of the fusion gene BCR-ABL and ultimately to the development of targeted inhibitors of this leukemia-specific oncoprotein. This is one of many major contributions made by Dr Rowley and her team to our understanding of the molecular biology of leukemia and other cancers.


"Janet Rowley is a hero to many, including me. Her groundbreaking work on the identification of the reciprocal translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 in patients with CML allowed the development of the life-saving treatment Gleevec for this disease." Dr Brian Druker


In 1984, Dr. Rowley was made the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. In 1998, she was one of three scientists awarded the prestigious Lasker Award for their work on translocation, and received the National Medal of Science in 1998. In 2003, she received the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences of the American Philosophical Society. In 2009, Dr. Rowley was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, and the Gruber Prize in Genetics. In 2012, Dr. Rowley was selected for the Hope Funds for Cancer Research Award of excellence in the area of Basic Research and was elected to the Hope Funds Scientific Advisory Board. Also in 2012, She won the Japan Prize for Healthcare and Medical Technology with two other scientists for her role in the creation of imatinib.

The iCMLf awards its annual prize for outstanding lifetime contributions to the understanding and treatment of CML in honor of Dr Rowley.


Her work lives on through all those in the CML community benefiting from her discovery.


"Take risks,"… "Do something different if it looks interesting… I didn't do anything noteworthy until I was 50. Success often involves a great deal of luck. Some people don't like to hear that because it means there are things out of their control. But that's the way it is." Dr Janet Rowley

Read the full press release here (