SEATTLE — Jan. 18, 2005 — Jim M. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., a world-renowned expert on the cell cycle and cancer, has been named director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Basic Sciences Division. He replaces Mark Groudine, M.D., Ph.D., who stepped down to devote more time to his role as deputy director of the center.
Assisting Roberts in his new role are associate division directors Linda Buck, Ph.D., 2004 Nobel laureate; and Jonathan Cooper, Ph.D., both members of the division. They replace former associate division directors Susan Parkhurst, Ph.D., and Barry Stoddard, Ph.D.
Roberts, a member of the Basic Sciences Division since 1988, is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and an affiliate professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
He has been at the forefront of basic-research efforts aimed at understanding the mechanisms of cell division and their role in cancer development. For example, Roberts and colleagues were among the first to identify the role of a protein called Cyclin E in prompting human-cell division and a protein called p27 in halting cell division.
He also was part of an interdisciplinary team of Fred Hutchinson investigators that found these two growth-regulating proteins might be excellent biomarkers for determining survival of women with breast cancer. For example, their research showed that young women whose breast tumors had high levels of p27 and low levels of Cyclin E had the best rates of survival, and that the opposite pattern was associated with a nine-fold increased risk of dying from breast cancer. This information may be useful for identifying breast-cancer patients who might benefit from aggressive therapy and those who would not.
"Roberts' work has been key to our understanding of how normal cells progress to cancer cells and to other disease states and represents one of the most stellar examples of the application of cutting-edge basic science to medicine," said Groudine, who had served as division director since 1995.
In his role as deputy director of Fred Hutchinson, Groudine, the only center faculty member who has been elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, will lead center planning, faculty recruitment, shared resources, the Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium and UW relations, among other duties. This will allow the center's president and director, 2001 Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., to devote more time to fund raising, early detection research policy, and national and international research collaborations.
"The center has a terrific leadership team that will be further strengthened by these changes," Hartwell said. "I hope the areas to which I'm devoting my time will enhance the center as well."
A high-resolution black and white photo of Dr. Jim Roberts is available upon request. For more information, please see his Community of Science profile at http://myprofile.cos.com/robertsa46.
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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home of three Nobel laureates, is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the development and advancement of biomedical technology to eliminate cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. Fred Hutchinson receives more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other independent U.S. research center. Recognized internationally for its pioneering work in bone-marrow transplantation, the center's four scientific divisions collaborate to form a unique environment for conducting basic and applied science. Fred Hutchinson, in collaboration with its clinical and research partners, UW Medicine and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Pacific Northwest and is one of 40 nationwide. For more information, visit the center's website at www.fhcrc.org.