National Medal of Science
For his innovative studies that have significantly advanced knowledge and provided new directions for research in molecular genetics, immunology and cancer etiology.
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BirthNovember 19, 1934
Country of BirthUSA
Key ContributionsOncomouse Experiment
Awarded byGeorge H. W. Bush
Areas of ImpactHealth & Medicine
AffiliationsHarvard Medical School
In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, scientist Philip Leder emerged as one of the world’s most successful and influential geneticists. While working at Harvard Medical School in the 1980s, Leder was the first scientist to ever attempt to genetically engineer a mouse model of cancer. The research, which involved injecting mice with cancer-causing genes to create an “oncomouse,” was the first of its kind.
In 1988, Leder and fellow researcher Timothy Stewart secured the first-ever patent for an animal – specifically a “transgenic nonhuman mammal.” Leder’s work allowed oncologists and cancer researchers to study new drugs for cancer treatment.
In a 2012 interview with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Leder said the days he spent doing research were some of the most exciting of his life. “I would go to bed thinking about the next day’s experiments and then jump out of bed in the morning and rush to the laboratory,” he said.
By Rachel Warren