Human Biology Division

Image: Human Biology laboratory

Integrating fundamental, applied and translational scientists to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer and other diseases.

Human Biology researchers come together to form a multidisciplinary team that is influenced by individual advances. Their diverse expertise include molecular and cell biology, genomics, genetics, virology, infectious disease, computational biology, pathology and clinical research. Grounded in high-quality basic science, the research performed in Human Biology blends fundamental, applied, and translational research performed in model organisms and in vitro systems.


Highlight 1
It is clear that microbial cell community’s diversity can affect health and disease. Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium, infection is much lower in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) for unknown reasons. In a new study, Dr. Nina Salama’s lab recently collaborated with Dr. Brian Reid’s lab, led by graduate student Tina Gall and worked to characterize the human microbiome in the upper GI tract.
Highlight 2
Dr. Amit Sharma, from the Julie Overbaugh Lab, has been awarded a two-year grant from the American Foundations for AIDS Research for nearly $150,000. Dr. Sharma plans to focus on engineering a simian HIV virus that will work for vaccine studies that are currently being conducted in the Overbaugh Lab.
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Highlight 3
ERG is a transcription factor of the ETS family that is rearranged and overproduced in approximately 50% of all human prostate tumors. Dr. Valeri Vasioukhin’s lab and Dr. Pete Nelson’s lab collaborated to investigate whether overexpression of ERG is sufficient for prostate cancer development and the potential molecular mechanisms of ERG prostate cancer.
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T cells are a major subtype of white blood cells, and are imperative to our immune system's ability to fight cancer and other diseases. T cell receptors (TCR), which are made of α and β chains, allow T cells to do their job. Dr. Harlan Robins previously developed a high throughput assay called immunoSEQ to sequence α and β chains. Now their team has developed a way to identify α and β chain pairs. This new development will allow them to reconstruct TCRs for therapeutic applications.
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Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is a neuromuscular disorder thought to be caused by mis-expression of DUX4, a homeobox transcription factor that is normally only expressed in testes but is misexpressed in FSHD skeletal muscle cells. A new Fred Hutch study by the Tapscott Lab, led by Drs. Jong-Won Lim, Laurie Snider and Gala Filippova, further investigate the genes involved in this disorder.
Highlight 6
To end the loss of lives caused by the HIV epidemic, the only possibility is a vaccine that either prevents the infection or controls the progressive loss of immune cells that eventually leads to AIDS. To accomplish either, we need a better understanding of the natural mechanisms that block the virus at the entry site or its replication. Caitlin Milligan and coworkers from Julie Overbaugh's group work to understand what mechanisms are involved in reducing transmission or mortality rate in a cohort of neonates born from HIV+ mothers.
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Highlight 7
Together Fred Hutch, UW Medicine and SCCA are working to develop the most precise treatment options for patients with solid tumor cancers. The primary goal is to translate laboratory sciences into the most precise treatment options for patients with solid tumor cancers.
Learn more about STTR >
Highlight 8
Glioblastomas (GBMs) are the most common and deadly form of brain cancer. They can be divided into different classes based on the varying characteristics. Drs. Tatsuya Ozawa and Eric Holland have addressed the question of the clinical relevance of GBMs subtypes, and whether they originate from a common precursor.
Read more about Dr. Ozawa and Dr. Holland's findings  >
Highlight 9
A new Fred Hutch study by the Galloway lab, also led by Dr. Nicholas Wallace and published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, tested the hypothesis that E6-mediated degradation of p300 leads to reduced expression of BRCA1, a protein famous for its role in inherited breast cancer but also known to be essential for homology-directed repair (HDR) of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs).
Highlight 10
The genetic basis for behavioral differences across and within species remains poorly understood. For example, the formation of social groups. Previous studies in the lab of Dr. Catherine Peichel developed a model school assay that used an artificial school of model fish to demonstrate distinct differences in different populations. In a new Fred Hutch study, led by staff scientist Anna Greenwood in the Peichel lab, the investigators attempted to increase the experimental power of the model assay by employing several innovations.
Read more about their study  >
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Dr. Andrew Hsieh, presenting his research at a recent Fast Pitch event
at Fred Hutch.

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