Dr. Hartwell is the first Nobel Prize recipient in physiology or medicine to serve a faculty appointment at an Arizona university. He was formally the president and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington from 1997 to 2010 where his leadership further elevated research related to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. In 2011, Dr. Hartwell established and co-directed the Center for Sustainable Health at ASU's Biodesign Institute as ASU's second Virginia G. Piper Chair of Personalized Medicine.
Currently, Dr. Hartwell leads a team in the Biodesign Pathfinder Center that focuses on creating effective learning environments. The first is a course required for all K-8 teachers, Sustainability Science for Teachers and the second is Project Honey Bee, an interdisciplinary research project to validate wearable devices for ambulatory patient management. Additionally, he also oversees a project to develop biomarkers for the clinical management of many diseases at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and University in Taipei,Taiwan.