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Rosetta Inpharmatics Co-Founder Lee Hartwell Wins Nobel Prize

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Lee Hartwell, director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and co-developer of a key technology behind the founding of Rosetta Inpharmatics, was among three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Hartwell, along with Paul Nurse and Timothy Hunt of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, were recognized for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms that regulate the cell cycle.

Hartwell’s work on cell-cycle cancer research under Fred Hutchinson’s Seattle Project led almost directly to his co-founding of Rosetta: Hartwell recruited Stephen Friend from Harvard to work with him on the project and the two developed a method for examining large patterns of genes. Along with Lee Hood, Hartwell and Friend founded Rosetta Inpharmatics in 1996.

Rosetta was acquired by Merck in July.

The Nobel Committee awarded Hartwell for his discoveries of a specific class of genes that control the cell cycle. One of these genes, called start, was found to have a central role in controlling the first step of each cell cycle.

Nurse was recognized for identifying one of the key regulators of the cell cycle, CDK (cyclin dependent kinase), while Hunt was awarded for his discovery of cyclins, proteins that regulate the CDK function.

— BT

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