Chronic myeloid leukemia: reminiscences and dreams

Haematologica. 2016 May;101(5):541-58. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2015.139337.


With the deaths of Janet Rowley and John Goldman in December 2013, the world lost two pioneers in the field of chronic myeloid leukemia. In 1973, Janet Rowley, unraveled the cytogenetic anatomy of the Philadelphia chromosome, which subsequently led to the identification of the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene and its principal pathogenetic role in the development of chronic myeloid leukemia. This work was also of major importance to support the idea that cytogenetic changes were drivers of leukemogenesis. John Goldman originally made seminal contributions to the use of autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation from the late 1970s onwards. Then, in collaboration with Brian Druker, he led efforts to develop ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in the late 1990s. He also led the global efforts to develop and harmonize methodology for molecular monitoring, and was an indefatigable organizer of international conferences. These conferences brought together clinicians and scientists, and accelerated the adoption of new therapies. The abundance of praise, tributes and testimonies expressed by many serve to illustrate the indelible impressions these two passionate and affable scholars made on so many people's lives. This tribute provides an outline of the remarkable story of chronic myeloid leukemia, and in writing it, it is clear that the historical triumph of biomedical science over this leukemia cannot be considered without appreciating the work of both Janet Rowley and John Goldman.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / history
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / methods
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / chemistry
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / genetics
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / mortality
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / history
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Mutation
  • Philadelphia Chromosome
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Research / history


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl