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Janet Rowley, MD, A Researcher Funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) congratulates Janet Davis Rowley, M.D., of University of Chicago, a pioneer in demonstrating that cancer is a genetic disease, for being awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Barack Obama will award the Medals of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, to Rowley and 15 others at a ceremony Aug. 12, 2009.

Dr. Rowley is being recognized for her discoveries of recurring chromosomal abnormalities in leukemias and lymphomas -- findings that have revolutionized how cancer is understood and treated. Since 1984, LLS has awarded Dr. Rowley's lab eight grants, including the current Translational Research Program (TRP) grant, effective through 2011. The current funding is supporting her work developing a tool to more precisely diagnose genetic subtypes of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) so that more appropriate individualized treatment can be applied to patients.

Dr. Rowley's earlier work helped to establish that cancer is a genetic disease, demonstrating that mutations in critical genes lead to specific forms of leukemia and lymphoma. Her discoveries helped lay the groundwork for the development of targeted and individualized therapy for patients with cancer. In 1973, Dr. Rowley showed that the Philadelphia Chromosome associated with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was an abnormal translocation of two chromosomes. Her discovery was a key step in the eventual discovery of Gleevec, a targeted therapy for CML patients.

Rowley, 84, is the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago.

"Dr. Rowley's work during her exemplary career has had a major impact on the treatment and on the lives of patients with leukemia," said John Walter, LLS president and CEO. "LLS is extremely proud of playing a role in supporting a researcher of her caliber and we laud this recognition of her significant achievements."

First established in 1945, the Medal recognizes "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society(R) (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

    Contact: Andrea Greif
    (914) 821-8958

SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
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