Charles Sawyers, MD

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair, and Chairman, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Dr. Sawyers is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York. His work in the lab builds on the success of molecularly targeted cancer drugs with a focus on developing a new generation of treatment options for patients.

Dr. Sawyers was recognized for his role in advancing treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a relatively rare disease that affects about 5,000 people per year in the U.S. He played a key role in the development of Gleevec® (imatinib) and Sprycel® (dasatinib), two drugs that together have transformed CML from a fatal cancer into one that is nearly always treatable. Gleevec was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001, and Sprycel was approved in 2006. Using his clinical understanding of treating CML as well his expertise from studying it in the laboratory, Dr. Sawyers, along with Brian J. Druker of Oregon Health and Science University and Moshe Talpaz of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, helped design the first clinical trial for Gleevec, including selecting which patients were most likely to benefit from the drug.

Dr. Sawyers is president-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research, past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and serves on the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Councilors. He is also a Member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous honors, including the Richard & Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award (American Association of Cancer Research); the David A. Karnofsky Award (American Society of Clinical Oncology); the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research; and the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

Prior to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Sawyers worked at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center for nearly 18 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton University and an MD from Johns Hopkins University. He is married with two children and lives in New York City.