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Classic Lasker

Mar 29, 2022

“I was forty-seven years old before I did anything that people would really look at twice.” Janet Rowley’s discovery of chromosomal translocations made it possible to diagnose cancer at the molecular level, and her work earned her a Lasker Award. But getting there wasn’t easy. In this interview, given before the 1998 Awards, Rowley talks to former NIH Director Francis Collins and shares stories of her life before she made her groundbreaking discoveries. She had to wait nine months to start medical school because the quota for women (3 out of a class of 65) had been filled, she worked part time for twenty years while she raised her four sons, and it took almost ten years before anything noteworthy came out of her research. Through it all, she chose to enjoy what she had instead of getting discouraged. This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity. Find the entire 40-minute interview here: