As a physician scientist and leader in the development of targeted therapies for cancer, Dr. Sawyers investigates the signaling pathways that drive the growth and drug resistance of cancer cells. He and his colleagues played a critical role in developing the molecularly targeted cancer drug, Gleevec (imatinib), for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Dr. Sawyers’ research into treatments for cancer that becomes resistant to established therapies led to the development of Sprycel for patients with Gleevec-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia and Xtandi for metastatic prostate cancer that has become resistant to Taxotere.
Dr. Sawyers has continued to expand his pursuit of novel anti-cancer drugs by collaborating with structural biologists to ascertain how potential drugs may fit within a potential therapeutic target. This research technique has since been expanded alongside recent efforts to sequence and map resistance-enhancing genetic mutations to understand how drugs must be manipulated to allow for efficacy even in patients harboring specific genetic abnormalities.
Through his dedication to improving precision medicine and patient care, Dr. Sawyers continues to positively influence the cancer research field. He has also been a strong advocate for biomedical research and has served on National Academy of Science and Institute of Medicine panels that have made recommendations to national leaders on topics such as biomarker use as well as clinical trial design and implementation.
2021 Distinguished Public Service Award, AACR
2019 STAT Biomedical Innovation Award
2019 AACR-Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship
2014 Hope Funds for Cancer Research Honoree
2013 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2013-2014 President, AACR
2010 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
2009 Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research Award
2009 Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research
2008 Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2007 Emil J Freireich Award for Clinical Research, MD Anderson Cancer Center
2005 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture, ASCO
2005 AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award
2003-2006 Board of Directors, AACR
2003 Freedom-to-Discover Research Award in Cancer, Bristol-Myers Squibb
2001 Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award
2000 Stohlman Scholar Award, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
1985 MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine