SEATTLE - Nobel Prize winner Leland H. "Lee" Hartwell is stepping down as head of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Nobel Prize winner Leland H. “Lee” Hartwell is stepping down as head of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Hartwell announced in a news release Friday that he will retire as president and director of the Seattle research complex in June 2010. He plans to continue his work on early cancer detection and science education.

Hartwell turns 70 in October and has been in the post for 12 years. In 2001 he won the Nobel in medicine for research on genes that control cell division in yeast.

He told the Hutchinson board’s executive committee more than a year ago that he wanted to retire, and the timing was set in the past few months.

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Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Walker says the search for a successor will begin immediately.