2012 (28th) Japan Prize: Dr. Rowley / Dr. Druker / Dr. Lydon

Uploaded by JapanPrize on 24.04.2012

2012 (28th) Japan Prize "Healthcare and Medical Technology" field
Dr. Janet Rowley (USA), Dr. Brian Druker (USA), Dr. Nicholas Lydon (USA)
Dr. Janet Rowley was born in 1925 in New York.
Her father was a University professor and her mother was a high school teacher.
She was raised under their loving care,
and in 1940, she enters the University of Chicago.
She studied medicine, and in 1948, received her doctorate.
After graduating, she married Mr. Donald Adams Rowley,
and was blessed with four children as she worked in a clinic.
Dr. Brain Druker was born in 1955 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Even as a child, he was full of curiosity and would often pull apart clocks and radios.
He always had great interest in the mechanism of things.
Eventually, he became interested in the biology of human body
and decides to study medicine.
In 1977, he enters the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.
Dr. Nicholas Lydon was born in 1957.
He grew up in the midst of Scotland's beautiful nature
with his parents, brother and sister.
He excelled at sports and was a passionate golfer when he was young.
With the aim of becoming a biochemist,
he enters The University of Leeds, United Kingdom, in 1975,
followed by The University of Dundee, Scotland.
And in 1982, he receives his doctorate for biochemistry research.
Although the three doctors began their path as a researcher separately,
their aspirations would eventually become unified in the development of
therapeutic drug for the much feared fatal disease Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
During the 1960s, two young researchers made a huge leap forward in
elucidating the cause of this disease.
They discovered that among the 46 chromosomes in a human cell,
CML patients had an abnormal chromosome.
It was named the "Philadelphia chromosome".
In the wake of this discovery, many researchers began investigating
the cause of Philadelphia chromosome and Dr. Rowley was one of them.
Her research, however, faced a great deal of difficulty.
With the research techniques of that time, she could determine the numbers
of chromosomes but was not able to determine the cause of abnormality.
However, with the emergence of new research techniques in 1973,
Dr. Rowley was finally able to determine that Philadelphia chromosome was a result
from a reciprocal translocation of a portion of the 9th and 22nd chromosomes.
As the research moved forward, it was discovered that in a human cell,
the 9th chromosome has the Abl gene and the 22nd chromosome has the Bcr gene,
and that translocation of 9th and 22nd chromosome
produces an abnormal gene called the Bcr-Abl gene.
It was also discovered that CML is caused by Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase
which is produced by Bcr-Abl gene.
This discovery by Dr. Rowley would
go on to have a profound impact on the treatment of CML.
Based on Dr. Rowley's discovery, Dr. Lydon and his colleagues at
the Ciba-Geigy pharmaceutical company began researching
tyrosine kinase inhibitors in 1986 and discovered a candidate compound.
And in 1993, Dr. Lydon and Dr. Druker who was a cancer researcher
began their research & development together on the therapeutic drug for CML.
The two doctors carried out research based on a hypothesis that
inhibiting the effect of Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase will
stop the unregulated cellular growth seen in CML.
The doctors proved that the candidate compound
previously discovered by Dr. Lydon inhibits cellular growth, and named it Imatinib.
In 1998, clinical trials began under the leadership of Dr. Druker,
and in less than three years, Imatinib was clinically approved.
The clinical trials proved that Imatinib,
which inhibits Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase,
suppresses abnormal cellular growth of hematopoietic cells in CML patients.
Imatinib is a molecularly targeted drug which can specifically kill
cancer cells with little side effects.
It's also effective at prolonging the life of patients
when compared with traditional anti-cancer drugs.
The three doctors have since been credited for their achievement of
developing of Imatinib and have received many awards.
Today, molecularly targeted drugs have become indispensable to the
treatment of cancer and auto immune diseases.
The molecularly targeted approach pioneered by the three doctors have
given bright hopes for the future of cancer drug development,
and at the same time, its contribution to the field of medical technology
as an ideal model for drug development is tremendous.
To this day, Dr. Rowley continues to engage in research activities.
She has also embraced numerous researchers from Japan,
and is respected by many researchers.
Needless to say, she also treasures her time with family.
When she is home, her husband Donald always watches over her warmly
as she engages in her hobby of growing corn in their vegetable garden.
As for Dr. Lydon, he has since established a number of biotech companies
and continues the research on next generation drugs.
Even as he travels the world for his business, he treasures his time with his wife Sally.
They often enjoy mountaineering and hiking together.
For Dr. Druker, who continues to research as a practicing doctor,
his present theme is the eradication of Leukemia causing cells
and the development of therapeutic drugs for Leukemia other than CML.
He lives a joyous life through his commitment to patients.
To Dr. Druker, a patient's recovery brings joy like it was his own matter.
He also enjoys keeping fit through sport and loves having time off with his family.
To young researchers
Don't be afraid of pursuing new areas of research or
using new tools to research longstanding issues.
If you make a new discovery that challenges long-accepted facts,
believe in yourself and pursue it.
However, only do so if you are certain about your scientific bases.
Keep in mind that while scientific research requires tremendous effort,
it can also be a personal experience to be enjoyed.
Remember, you are an adventurer in the world of unknown.
There will be success when your passion and talent meets perseverance and luck.
An obvious path may not always lead to big rewards.
Success is the result of curiosity and inquisitive spirit.
One must also not forget that a path which spreads before one's eyes is built upon human relations.
I have been blessed with a lot of luck, and it's the result of all the support
I received from people I've worked with.
Pursue your research with all your might.
But don't forget to balance your personal life with fun and relaxation.