Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48, the Gaylord P. and Mary Louise Harnwell Emeritus Professor and former chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88.
In 1960, Nowell and colleague David Hungerford observed that the number 22 chromosome in the tumor cells of individuals suffering from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was abnormally small. The observation was the first consistent chromosome abnormality found in any kind of malignancy. The finding—known as the “Philadelphia chromosome”—took cancer research in a new direction, transforming CML from a fatal disease to a chronic disease that could be kept under control for many years.
Nowell was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Wesleyan in 1968. Among the many other honors and awards Nowell received during his lifetime were the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award (often called “the American Nobel Prize”) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science. He served on Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees for 15 years and was elected trustee emeritus of the university