Doctors win $500,000 Albany Prize for Gleevec, cancer research

April 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM
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ALBANY, N.Y., April 17 (UPI) -- The Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research went to three physicians who altered the course of cancer research, New York officials say.

The $500,000 award, one of the largest prizes in medicine and science in the United States, recognized groundbreaking research into the nature of cancer, which has led to the development of a new generation of cancer drugs, most notably Gleevec for chronic myeloid leukemia that, unlike chemotherapy, target specific genetic defects causing cancer.

The recipients were:

-- Dr. Peter C. Nowell of the University of Pennsylvania, whose discovery of the "Philadelphia chromosome" in chronic myeloid leukemia established that genetics could be responsible for cancer.

-- Dr. Janet D. Rowley of the University of Chicago, a geneticist described as the matriarch of modern cancer genetics.

-- Dr. Brian J. Druker of the Oregon Health & Science University, whose research to develop Gleevec saved countless lives and opened the door for more targeted cancer therapies.

The prize award activities are scheduled for May 17.

James J. Barba, president and chief executive officer of Albany Medical Center and chairman of the national selection committee, said these individuals exemplify the extraordinary impact that painstaking research can have on the lives of countless individuals.

"These visionary scientists have advanced our understanding of cancer, vastly improved our ability to treat this devastating disease and given hope to so many around the world," Barba said in a statement. "On behalf of cancer survivors everywhere, I thank Drs. Druker, Nowell, and Rowley for their contributions in our fight to eradicate cancer."

The Albany Medical Center Prize was established in 2000 by the late Morris "Marty" Silverman to honor scientists whose work has demonstrated significant outcomes that offer medical value of national or international importance.

A $50 million gift commitment from the Marty and Dorothy Silverman Foundation provides for the prize to be awarded annually for 100 years. Five Albany Prize recipients later won the Nobel Prize.

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