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Obama gives U. of Chicago's Janet Rowley presidential Medal of Freedom

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WASHINGTON--University of Chicago geneticist Janet Rowley was one of 16 people awarded the presidential medal of freedom by President Obama on Wednesday.

Here's what Obama said about Rowley: "After graduating from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1948, Janet Rowley got married and gave birth to four sons, making medicine a hobby and making family her priority. It was not until she was almost 40 that she took up serious medical research, and not until almost a decade later that she discovered, hunched over her dining room table, examining small photos of chromosomes, that leukemia cells are notable for changes in their genetics, a discovery that showed cancer is genetic and transformed how we fight the disease.

All of us have been touched in some way by cancer, including my family. And so we can all be thankful that what began as a hobby became a life's work for Janet."

List of all 16 winners is here.

Below, from the White House....

Dr. Janet Rowley
Rowley is a human geneticist and the first scientist to identify a chromosomal translocation as the cause of leukemia and other cancers. Rowley attended the University of Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1944, a Bachelor of Science degree in 1946, and doctor of medicine degree in 1948. After earning her medical license in 1951, Rowley worked as attending physician at the Infant and Prenatal Clinics in the Department of Public Health, Montgomery County, Maryland. In 1955 she took up a research post at Chicago's Dr. Julian Levinson Foundation where she remained until 1961. In 1962 Rowley returned to the University of Chicago as a research associate in the Department of Hematology. She became an associate professor in 1969 and a full professor in 1977. In 1984, Rowley was made the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, a position she still holds, as well as serving as the interim deputy dean for science since 2001. In 1998, she was one of three scientists awarded the prestigious Lasker Award for and received the National Medal of Science in 1999.

Read Rowley's bio page at the University of Chicago here.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 13, 2009 9:12 AM.

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