Biodesign Directory Profile

Contact Information


Leland Hartwell

Virginia G. Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine

Chief Scientist

The Biodesign Institute, Sustainable Health


Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering


Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College


Dr. Lee Hartwell is Chief Scientist at the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health. He is a Virginia G. Piper Chair in Personalized Medicine. Additionally, he is President and Director Emeritus at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Hartwell was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2001 for his discoveries of a specific class of genes that control the cell cycle. The cell cycle controls all aspects of cell growth and division. By identifying "checkpoint" genes that determine whether a cell is dividing normally, Hartwell provided important clues to cancer, which arises from abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth. 

His interests for the past several years have turned to how researchers can use the enormous knowledge that has accumulated during the last 50 years in genetics and biochemistry to improve molecular diagnostics to benefit human health. By using powerful protein biomarkers, scientists hope to identify individuals at high risk for disease, detect cancer and other diseases at an early stage when they can be cured, and to provide improved prognostic information and better therapeutic response. 

Other honors in Hartwell’s career include the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, and the Alfred P. Sloan Award in cancer research. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.