Biography 38: Leland Hartwell (1939 - )
Lee Hartwell was born in Los Angeles. His father was a sign maker, and Hartwell would help him in his shop after school. Hartwell developed an interest in figuring out how things work, especially electrical gadgets. This natural curiosity did not mean that he was a good student. He did well enough but didn't really get involved with science until after high school.
He was accepted to the California Institute of Technology and initially thought he would study physics. However, he became interested in "DNA" and finished college with a degree in biology. Hartwell then went on to earn a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After his Ph.D., Hartwell went to the Salk Institute because he wanted to work with Renato Dulbecco. Hartwell already knew he wanted to work on cell division, which was one of Dulbecco's research interests. Despite the cramped conditions - the Salk was a more primitive institute at the time - Hartwell enjoyed his post-doctoral years and learned a lot from his mentors.
Hartwell then accepted an assistant professorship at the University of California, Irvine. He also made the rather risky decision to start using yeast as a model system. Not many people were using yeast at the time, but Hartwell wanted and needed a simpler experimental system to study basic questions of cell growth. Hartwell is a pioneer in yeast genetics, and has used yeast to identify many of the genes involved in protein synthesis as well as the cell cycle.
In 1968, Hartwell moved to the Department of Genetics at the University of Washington and it was there that he did most of the work on cell cycle genes. He stayed at the University of Washington until 1996 when he moved to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His lab is working on the molecular mechanisms that maintain and support gene variations, which can eventually lead to the evolution of new species.
In 1997, Hartwell was appointed President and Director of the "Hutch," and spends most of his time integrating the basic, applied and clinical effort of interdisciplinary cancer research. In 1998, he won the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Prize for his innovative and pioneering work. Hartwell shared in the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on defining the cell cycle.
David Baltimore, Howard Temin and Renato Dulbecco shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discoveries concerning the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell.
A young Leland Hartwell with his dog Sparky.
Leland Hartwell describes how cells regulate the timing of growth and cell division. Bob Horvitz and Mike Hengartner explain control mechanisms for cell death.
Leland Hartwell, President and Director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Howard Temin, David Baltimore and Renato Dulbecco shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discoveries concerning the interaction between tumor viruses and the genetic material of the cell.
Cognitive information is encoded in patterns of nervous activity and decoded by molecular listening devices at the synapse. Professor Seth Grant explains how different patterns of neural firing are critical to cognition.
Comparing the early days of molecular biology research to today's informatics - heavy genome era.
Yeast was the first eukaryote organism to have its entire genome sequenced. It has remained at the forefront of genetics research because it is quick and easy to grow.
Paul Zamecnik developed a cell-free extract that he and Mahlon Hoagland used to study protein synthesis. They identified tRNA as the adaptor predicted by Francis Crick in his Central Dogma
David Botstein discusses how identifying the molecular mechanisms of cancer will lead to the development of improved therapies.