Question from Jennifer Hsieh: If you were given only 5 minutes to convince the scientific community, as well as commercial entities engaging in the business of drug discovery, that a lot of patience, a lot of money (billions), and a bit of serendipitous luck would indeed go a long way to unlock a small (albeit important) piece of mystery surrounding such big quest as a cure for cancer, what would you tell them?
Janet Rowley: I think the best illustration is the 40 years it took from identification of the Philadelphia Chromosome (1960) to the translocation (1973) to identification of the genes at the translocation breakpoints (1984) followed by an understanding of how the function of the genes was altered by the translocation and the identification of STI571 (later known as Gleevec or Imantinib) (1998). This is a billion–plus dollar success. But the first translocation identified, the 8;21 translocation (also 1973) still has no targeted therapy even thought we know the genes that are altered and how their function has been changed by the translocation. So no billion–dollar prize…yet.