The relationship between chromosome alterations and cancer had been debated for more than one hundred years. The first direct link between chromosomal abnormalities to any malignancy came with the discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome in 1960 by Peter Nowell at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the late David Hungerford from the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Institute for Cancer Research. Understanding abnormalities in the replication of the chromosome led to the eventual development of the genetically targeted cancer drug Gleevec in 2001, and others in the pipeline.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of this discovery, in 2010, Dr. Nowell is being honored with the Franklin Institute’s Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science and an honorary doctor of science degree from Penn. Nowell is also a recipient of the Albert Lasker Award for Medical Research.
This 2007 Review series in the Journal of Clinical Investigation includes contributions from individuals who performed critical experiments in the wake of the description of the Philadelphia chromosome, reflecting the then-nearly 50 years of work inspired by Nowell’s initial finding.