Clinical Research Division

About Clinical Research

From laboratory bench to bedside, the Clinical Research Division develops and analyzes new treatments for cancers and other diseases.

The Division’s research started in the late 1960s and, led by Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, our investigators achieved a major breakthrough by developing bone marrow transplantation. Thomas received the 1990 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for this pioneering work.

The Division is now home to more than 100 faculty members and dozens of individual labs, and our research has expanded to encompass 12 diverse areas including:

Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Division researchers continue to eliminate major barriers to successful transplants and improve survival for adults and children with malignant and nonmalignant hematological diseases. Dr. Rainer Storb leads research to understand graft-versus-tumor effects, graft failure and other transplant-related toxicities. Dr. Colleen Delaney is focused on expansion of cord blood cells as a source for unrelated donor transplantation, offering hope to patients unable to find a matched donor.  

Immunotherapy: The Division’s immunotherapy researchers, including Drs. Phil Greenberg, Stanley Riddell, and Oliver Press, are spearheading new ways to manipulate T-cell immunity for the treatment of human diseases, and were among the first to develop radioimmunotherapies that could improve outcomes for patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  

Gene therapy: Dr. Hans Peter Kiem’s lab is developing novel stem cell-based treatment strategies for a variety of diseases including glioblastoma and HIV.

Solid tumor biology: Division researchers including Drs. Bruce Clurman, Elahe Mostaghel, Peter Nelson, McGarry Houghton and Edus Warren, are unraveling how tumors form and progress – and how the immune systems responds to them – with the goal of using their insights to develop new cancer treatment strategies.

Genetics: Drs. Daniel Geraghty, John Hansen and Effie Petersdorf study the relationship between genes and cancer. Their work includes studies to understand the genetics of the immune response to cancer, investigate how gene expression correlates with graft-versus-host-disease development and outcomes, and understand MHC gene function using hematopoietic cell transplantation from unrelated donors as a model system.

Clinical Research Division scientists have recorded several "firsts" in cancer research and treatment:

  • Developing the first FDA-approved antibody-targeted chemotherapy, making chemotherapy less toxic and more effective. Learn more >

  • Pioneering the first antibody-targeted therapy against a marker specific to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, an approach now used to treat thousands of people each year.

  • Developing the first stem cell transplant regimens utilizing radiolabeled antibodies (radioimmunotherapy) as part of the transplant conditioning regimen.

  • Developing a “tumor paint” that will help surgeons see where a tumor begins and ends more precisely by illuminating the cancerous cells. The tumor paint, derived from scorpion venom, was developed in collaboration with Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Learn more >

  • Successfully using expanded umbilical cord blood to treat leukemia. Learn more >

  • Successfully using a patient’s cloned infection-fighting T cells as the sole therapy to put melanoma into long-term remission without radiation or chemotherapy. Learn more >

  • Finding a way to break through the unique biological defense that pancreatic cancer uses to resist chemotherapy. Learn more >

  • Developing a way to extract a patient's blood stem cells and insert a special "resistance" gene that is designed to protect the cells from damage by common chemotherapy drugs such as temozolomide and BCNU. An infusion of these enhanced cells could give new hope to patients with the most aggressive form of brain cancer—glioblastoma—which is very difficult to treat. Learn more >

Where we are located

The Division's offices and laboratories occupy all five floors of the E. Donnall Thomas Clinical Research building at 1100 Fairview Ave. North on the Robert W. Day Campus at South Lake Union.

Two skybridges at the second and third floor levels connect the Thomas building to the Hutch and Weintraub buildings which house our Basic Sciences and Human Biology divisions.