Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Ceremony Honoring Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Lee Hartwell
May 30, 2002
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am honored to be here this evening. I congratulate the Washington Association for Biomedical Research for organizing this terrific event, and for your important work in promoting public understanding of research in the life sciences.
We’ve come to celebrate Dr. Lee Hartwell for his distinguished work in the quest to defeat cancer. We are here also to recognize the outstandingly successful research community that so many of you in this room have built in Washington State.
First and foremost, you are creating the knowledge that is revolutionizing health care, as you crack the codes of diseases that cause so much pain and suffering among the peoples of the world.
At the same time, you are helping to secure Washington’s economic future as a leading international center of biotechnology with the development of whole new industries built around the life sciences.
No one better exemplifies this community than Lee and his colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. I mention his colleagues because Lee is a man who constantly credits others for his development and success as a scientist.
When the Nobel Prize Committee announced the winners last fall, Lee naturally received much attention in the media. It was characteristic of him to share the credit for his honor with others. Lee told of his youth, noting that he was not somehow automatically destined to become a Nobel Laureate.
· He recalled a high school friend who persuaded him to change high schools. The two of them were just drifting along, whiling away their evenings drinking beer with fellow members of their car club, the Sinbads. Moving to a new, better school, Lee says ‘’was a formative event in my life.’’
· Lee made the most of this new opportunity, eager to work hard. At his new school, it was a physics teacher who recognized in Lee a love for intellectual challenges. At the end of class, this caring teacher would hand Lee a page full of tough physics problems. Looking back, Lee says his teacher ‘’must have spent as many hours searching out those problems as I did trying to solve them.’’
If Lee did not recognize his own promise for greatness, others saw his potential and acted upon it.
· After high school, Lee attended junior college where another person helped him. His counselor encouraged him to seek admission to Cal Tech. Lee was not interested. But his insistent counselor brought him together with a Cal Tech recruiter and the match was made. Lee earned his degree in biology there in 1961.
· There were others Lee identifies as having helped him along his path. Herschel Roman, chair of the Genetics Department at the University of Washington who loaned him an expensive micromanipulator for his research. Bob Day, then director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who did not have a designated slot for Hartwell so asked him to write his own job description.
Lee credits these, and many others, with having helped him reach this point where we now recognize him as among the world’s great scientists. What did they see in Lee Hartwell when they encountered him?
I think the qualities that so many saw in Lee along his way to this wonderful honor were evident quite early. Those qualities of intelligence, industry, caring, imagination, patience, generosity and humility were recognized many years ago by Lee’s 6th grade teacher.
In a letter to him following word of his Nobel Prize, she wrote: ‘’I do hope that you are the same Leland who was in my 6th grade class at Thomas A. Edison School in Glendale, California. When I picked up our newspaper the other day, I knew that you had to be you.’’
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in honoring Washington’s state’s newest Nobel Laureate, Dr. Lee Hartwell.