Dr. Sawyers is being recognized along with his colleague Brian J. Druker, Director of the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health and Science University, for their contributions to the development of targeted therapies for the treatment of leukemias and other forms of cancer. Their collaboration, which began in the 1990s, led to the clinical development of imatinib (Gleevec®), which targets the molecular cause of chronic myeloid leukemia with minimal side effects. Their work, collaboratively and as individuals, has been widely recognized as revolutionizing the molecular treatment of cancer.
Dr. Sawyers’s own work examines how signaling pathway abnormalities in cancer cells can be exploited as targets for new cancer drugs. His current focus is on developing new treatments for patients with prostate cancer who have developed resistance to drugs that fight the cancer by blocking male sex hormones called androgens.
Dr. Sawyers is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and the incumbent of the Marie Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair at Memorial Sloan Kettering. In 2009 he received the Dorothy P. Landon Prize from the American Association for Cancer Research and the Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.