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Good News at Fred Hutch

Celebrating faculty and staff achievements

June 24, 2016

Dr. David Maloney

Dr. David Maloney speaks after becoming Leonard and Norma Klorfine Endowed Chair for Clinical Research.

Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Immunotherapy pioneer, oncologist and ‘serial hobbyist’ Dr. David Maloney named first Klorfine Chair

Colleagues, friends and family honored Dr. David Maloney as the first recipient of the Leonard and Norma Klorfine Endowed Chair for Clinical Research — created to celebrate an “unsung hero” of medicine.

The chair was established with a gift from Leonard and Norma Klorfine, well-known art collectors, philanthropists and supporters of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The Klorfines’ goal was to fund a physician-scientist who may not be a household name but who nevertheless dedicates each day to improving health and saving lives through world-class research.    

At a June 16 reception, attendees described Maloney as curious, persistent, gentle, and competitive and as a “serial hobbyist” who pursues even his recreational activities with “intense focus.” (He is an accomplished bird photographer, wood worker and brewer.) Maloney expressed his gratitude but was quick to share the spotlight.

“I really want to thank the Klorfines so much for this generosity,” he said. “This [honor] has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with the people I work with.”

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'You create your path': Panel of 'Rock Star Women in Science' inspire crowd

Top scientists from five research organizations spoke to sold out crowd about passion, science, confidence and pear farming

June 23, 2016 | By Rachel Tompa / Fred Hutch News Service

"Rock Star Women in Science" brings local researchers to an enthusiastic crowd

The "Rock Star Women in Science" panelists speak to a packed house in Seattle's Town Hall Wednesday evening. Researchers from throughout the Puget Sound region participated in the special community event, which celebrated women in the research lab and clinic.

Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

The five women strode out on stage, one at a time, strains of music thumping behind them.

The speakers — five female scientists from five Seattle research organizations — had each chosen their own theme song for the event (including, of course, Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)”). But from the back of Town Hall’s large theater, you couldn’t hear much more than a soft bassline over the raucous applause as each scientist was introduced.

“When we started talking a couple of months ago about putting this event together, we wondered, number one, would anybody come?” said Lisa Cohen, executive director of the Washington Global Health Alliance, who moderated the “Rock Star Women in Science” event organized by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and held Wednesday evening for the public.

The nearly 800 audience members — mostly women — laughed and clapped.

One of the next questions the event organizers asked themselves was: “Who should we do this for? And the unanimous decision was, the next generation,” Cohen said.

True to that theme, many of the audience members were students, ranging from girls in elementary school (spotted with their moms, dads, grandmothers) to women immersed in science graduate school. Much of the evening’s discussion touched on advice for students interested in science as a career or for those scientists just starting out on their path.  

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A quick trip to HIV protection?

How babies’ immune systems respond to HIV could offer a roadmap to the development of an effective, efficient HIV vaccine

June 23, 2016 | By Sabrina Richards / Fred Hutch News Service

Image: HIV

HIV, shown here in green, mutates quickly to evade the body's natural immune response.

Photo by Cynthia Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP

A protective vaccine against HIV has remained tantalizingly out of reach, even as scientists amass more information on the wily virus, which mutates rapidly to evade the immune response. While HIV can trigger the immune system to create a broad response that attempts to protect infected adults, this can take years or even decades to develop. A vaccine created to prevent infection, that is designed to mimic this natural process, would take too long to build protection.  

Now, in a study published Thursday in Cell, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center show that a quick response with the potential to form a template for an HIV vaccine, is possible. The team looked at immune responses to HIV in infants and saw that broadly neutralizing antibodies, the specialized immune proteins that may be able to ward off many HIV variants, can arise within a year after infection — and with less honing than previously thought.

The work is the first and so far only study to isolate HIV-neutralizing antibodies in infants, from blood samples taken in the years prior to the development of antiretroviral drugs. In contrast to work in adults, “we could document a case in infants where a broadly neutralizing antibody developed in a time frame and in a way that is something that we could consider mimicking with a vaccine,” said Dr. Julie Overbaugh, the study’s senior author.

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Keys to life

Piano man Juan Perez plays for you, even through his pain

June 22, 2016 | By Robert Hood and Bill Briggs / Fred Hutch News Service

Juan Perez, 67, has entertained Seattle-area listeners for 30-plus years. He’s still playing, despite advanced cancer.
Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Why fish school

Study uncovers genetic link to social behavior in stickleback fish

June 17, 2016 | By Rachel Tompa / Fred Hutch News Service

Image: Schooling fish

A new study by Dr. Katie Peichel and her lab explores the mystery of why some fish school and others don't.

Photo by Dr. Anna Greenwood

Evolutionary biologist Dr. Katie Peichel has spent much of her career studying two types of fish.

One lives in the ocean, traversing through empty swathes over flat, open sand, where larger, predatory fish can easily spot it. This ocean fish has evolved to school in large groups with its fellows, decreasing the chances it will be the one selected for dinner.

The other lurks in rivers and streams, a very different environment. In its watery home, there are ample plants, rocks, twigs to hide behind. There are no open spaces. The freshwater fish is a solitary creature. It does not know how to school, nor is it interested in learning.

The fascinating part, for Peichel and her laboratory team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is that these fish are the same species — at least, technically speaking. Known as marine sticklebacks (the ocean dwellers) and benthic sticklebacks (the freshwater denizens), these two fish will happily mate and produce fertile offspring, if thrown together in a lab environment.

In the real world, the two groups never — or almost never — meet.

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Good News at Fred Hutch

Celebrating faculty and staff achievements

June 17, 2016

Dr. Larry Corey

Dr. Larry Corey was given an official portrait at a ceremony.

Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Larry Corey receives commissioned portrait

Their painted portraits link them as science icons: Nobel laureate Dr. David Baltimore, pioneering geneticist Dr. Janet Rowley and, now, Fred Hutch virologist Dr. Larry Corey — each of their likenesses brushed by the same artist.

At a ceremony Tuesday on the Fred Hutch campus, Corey was presented with his official portrait.

Corey, president and director emeritus of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, viewed the portrait along with a gathering of friends, family and colleagues.

While Corey joked the painting makes him look better on canvas, Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland told the group the art represents Corey’s numerous serious achievements.

They include:

  • In the early 1980s, showing the effectiveness of the world’s first antiviral therapy (acyclovir) for the treatment of herpes simplex virus-2 (genital herpes), which created the path for treatments against HIV, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • Chairing the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, or ACTG, that developed combination drug therapies and protease inhibitors, ultimately giving people with HIV a normal life span.
  • Joining Fred Hutch in 1996 to lead what is now the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division.
  • Building and leading the Fred Hutch-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network, or HVTN.
  • Helping found Juno Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on novel immunotherapies for cancer, using reprogrammed T cells that directly attack malignancies while avoiding healthy tissues. 

Corey’s painting was created by artist Jon R. Friedman, who also spoke at the event. Friedman is known for his portraits, landscapes and sculptures. His works are on display at the National Portrait Gallery, the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, and other venues. His portrait subjects include Dr. Janet Rowley, who proved a link between certain genetic abnormalities and certain cancers, and Dr. David Baltimore, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who keynoted the 2015 Conference on Cell and Gene Therapy for HIV Cure held at Fred Hutch.

— Bill Briggs / Fred Hutch News Service

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