Leland Harrison Hartwell

Leland Harrison Hartwell

Hartwell, Leland Harrison, 1939-, American cell biologist, b. Los Angeles, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1964. He is a professor at the Univ. of Washington (1968-) and since 1997 has also been president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. Hartwell, along with Timothy R. Hunt and Sir Paul M. Nurse, was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discoveries relating to key regulators of the cell cycle. Hartwell found a class of genes that controls the cell cycle, in particular he identifed a gene called start that plays a key role in initiating each cycle. The discoveries made by Hartwell and his fellow Nobel winners are important in understanding the development of chromosomal instabilities in cancer cells.
Leland Harrison (Lee) Hartwell (born October 30 1939, in Los Angeles, California) is president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. He won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to the understanding of the cell cycle through years of studying yeast. Co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine were Paul Nurse and Tim Hunt, whose research focused on the cyclins and other aspects of cell division.

Hartwell received his bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1961. In 1964, he received his PhD in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1965 to 1968, he worked at the University of California as a professor. He moved to the University of Washington in 1968. In a series of experiments from 1970 to 1971, Hartwell discovered the cell division cycle (CDC) genes in baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). These genes regulate the cell cycle and mutations in the genes are involved in some types of cancer.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Hartwell has received many awards and honors including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in 1995. He became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987. In 1996, Hartwell joined the faculty of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and in 1997 became its president and director.

In 1998 he received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. On July 9, 2003, Washington Governor Gary Locke awarded the Medal of Merit, the state’s highest honor, to Hartwell. He is also a recipient of the Komen Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction.

Dr. Hartwell is the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Canary Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing new technologies for the early detection of cancer.


  • Leland H. Hartwell, Joseph Culotti, and Brian Reid. Genetic Control of the Cell-Division Cycle in Yeast, I. Detection of Mutants PNAS 1970 66: 352-359. Abstract
  • Les Prix Nobel. 2002. The Nobel Prizes 2001, Editor Tore Frängsmyr. Nobel Foundation: Stockholm.

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