UW News

March 14, 2002

Hartwell will give annual Rushmer Lecture for Department of Bioengineering

The Department of Bioengineering’s 14th annual Rushmer Lecture will be given the first week of April by Dr. Lee Hartwell, UW professor of genome sciences and president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Hartwell shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his studies of cell division and replication in yeast, work done largely at the UW.

Hartwell will speak on “How Cells Are Engineered” at 4 p.m., Friday, April 5, in Hogness Auditorium at the Health Sciences Center. A reception will follow at 5:15 p.m. in the I-wing Rotunda.

Hartwell received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the universal mechanism that controls cell division in organisms from yeast to frogs to humans. Beginning more than 30 years ago and using yeast as a model organism, he was the first to harness the tools of genetics to determine which genes cause cells to divide.

The regulation of cell division — how cells determine when and how to multiply or otherwise develop, and how that process can go awry — is fundamental to understanding how cancer cells mutate and to developing approaches that predict, prevent or reverse that mutation.

Hartwell’s groundbreaking efforts proved, among other discoveries, that yeast is an excellent model for studying many basic processes in the cell, since the same processes occur in virtually all nucleated organisms. Today, basic research using yeast is widespread in several fields.

Hartwell graduated from the California Institute of Technology and earned a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did postdoctoral work at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He joined the UW faculty in 1968 and became a professor of genetics in 1973. He became president and director of FHCRC in 1997.

He received many national and international scientific awards before being named a Nobel Laureate, including the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Prize and the Gairdner Foundation International Award for Achievements in Science. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Hartwell is one of five UW faculty members who have won the Nobel Prize.

The annual lecture is named for Dr. Robert F. Rushmer, founder of the UW Center for Bioengineering, which became a department jointly administered by the UW School of Medicine and College of Engineering in 1997. Rushmer, who had been professor emeritus of bioengineering, died in July 2001 at the age of 86.