Charles L. Sawyers is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 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.
Sawyers holds the Marie-JosÃ©e and Henry R. Kravis Chair in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program. Sawyers is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2009 Lasker Clinical Award, which recognized him for his part in advancing treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia, a relatively rare disease that strikes about 5,000 people per year in the United States. He played a key role in the development of imatinib and dasatinib, two drugs that together have transformed CML from a fatal cancer into one that is nearly always treatable. Imatinib was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2001, and dasatinib was approved in 2006.
Using his clinical understanding of treating CML as well his expertise from studying it in the laboratory, Dr. Sawyers helped design the first clinical trial for imatinib, including selecting which patients were most likely to benefit from the drug. Along with Brian J. Druker of Oregon Health and Science University and Moshe Talpaz of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.