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2009 Gruber Genetics Prize

The pioneering work of Janet Davison Rowley, MD, in the field of cancer cytogenetics (the study of chromosomes and other cellular aspects of heredity) revolutionized how cancer is understood and treated. In a series of groundbreaking discoveries, Rowley demonstrated that tumors can be triggered when certain genes on chromosomes exchange positions (translocate), thus proving that genetic mutations can cause cancer—a concept that the scientific community had previously dismissed. Rowley has worked primarily with leukemias and lymphomas, but the same translocations have been identified in other types of cancer. Tracking these chromosomal abnormalities has enabled scientists to develop much more effective methods of diagnosing and treating cancer.