Charles L. Sawyers, MD

Charles L. Sawyers, MD
Chair, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Charles L. Sawyers, MD, is a medical oncologist, investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and director of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). Dr. Sawyers’ career has focused on developing molecularly targeted therapies and played a key role in the development of imatinib and dasatinib for the treatment of CML for which he was a co-recipient of the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. More recently, Dr. Sawyers has focused his effort on targeting AR in prostate cancer. A drug that he co-developed, MDV3100, is an AR antagonist which completed phase III clinical trials in men with CRPC and demonstrated prolongation of survival (51, 54). He is also co-developer of the next AR antagonist, ARN509 (Aragon).

Dr. Sawyers received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his MD from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences. In addition to the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, Dr. Sawyers has received numerous other awards including a Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the American Association for Cancer Research David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Dorothy P. Landon–AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research and the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He recently served as co-chair of the NAS report on precision medicine.

In 1988, while a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Owen Witte at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Sawyers began his work with Gleevec. Building on the development of Gleevec as a model, Dr. Sawyers contributed to the design of a new cancer drug called Sprycel (dasatinib), which overcomes resistance to Gleevec in some patients. His approach combines genetic studies of patients' DNA with structural biology data. Collaborating with structural biologists, Dr. Sawyers and his team perform genetic studies involving the sequencing of each patient's resistance-enhancing mutation to understand how a drug responds to each mutation as it develops. Currently his team is focusing on developing new treatments for patients with prostate cancer who have developed androgen resistance.

Dr. Sawyers will serve as the Dream Team co-leader, be a member of the Executive Committee, perform work on the Pre-Clinical Models Team and serve as a member of the MSKCC Clinical Trials Sub-Team.