Center News Magazine: Thomas Kelly Wins General Motors Cancer Research Award

Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Thomas Kelly Thomas Kelly

In recognition of his contributions in basic science related to cancer research, Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) Director Thomas J. Kelly has been awarded the 2004 Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize by the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation. The prize — named in honor of Mr. Sloan, former president, chairman, and honorary chairman of General Motors, and a moving force behind the creation of the Sloan Kettering Institute — is awarded annually. Dr. Kelly shares this year’s prize with Bruce Stillman, President and CEO of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Dr. Stillman and Dr. Kelly will share a monetary award of $250,000. In bestowing the award, the Awards Assembly of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation cited Drs. Kelly and Stillman “for their seminal contributions to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of DNA replication — a fundamental process of vital importance in living cells.

On June 9, Dr. Kelly will deliver a Laureate Lecture at the Foundation’s Annual Scientific Conference at the National Institutes of Health. An awards ceremony will be held at the Department of State that evening.

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize is among the most prestigious in biomedical research,” said Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center President Harold Varmus. “Tom is an internationally recognized leader whose research has produced results central to our understanding of both the origins of cancer and the most basic of life functions, duplication of our genomes in the course of cell growth and division. He is an exemplary scientist, and we are fortunate to have him as a colleague.

Dr. Kelly’s research has focused for many years on the ways in which replication of DNA is initiated and controlled. In 2002, Dr. Kelly and his colleagues pioneered the development of cell-free systems that made it possible to study the biochemistry of DNA replication in human cells. More recently, he has focused on the control of DNA replication during the cell cycle, a problem with particular relevance to cancer.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Kelly came to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2002 from The Johns Hopkins University, where he directed the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. He also led the interdisciplinary Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

In addition to serving as SKI Director, Dr. Kelly heads the Laboratory of Regulation of Eukaryotic DNA Replication and holds the Benno C. Schmidt Chair of Cancer Research.