Dr. Denise Galloway has received one of the National Cancer Institute’s 2017 Outstanding Investigators Awards. The award recognizes established scientific leaders who are making significant strides not only in understanding cancer but in creating techniques that could lead to research breakthroughs in the future. Galloway is the first Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientist to receive an Outstanding Investigator Award, which was introduced by the NCI two years ago.
The new award provides a little more than $7 million over seven years. Galloway, who directs the Pathogen-Associated Malignancies Integrated Research Center and holds a Fred Hutch 40th Anniversary Endowed Chair, will use the support to pursue deeper insights into two viruses that cause cancer: human papillomaviruses (HPV), certain strains of which can cause cervical, anogenital and head-and-neck cancers; and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), which can lead to Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer.
Galloway’s work on both viruses has already influenced public health and patient care. She helped lay the groundwork for the cancer-preventive HPV vaccine and, in collaboration with Hutch colleague Dr. Paul Nghiem, developed a clinical test for MCPyV that could help detect very early relapse of Merkel cell cancer.
The new award will allow her to extend those accomplishments by taking a high-risk, high-reward approach to research that other grants often limit.
“I feel very lucky,” said Galloway of receiving the award, which, unlike many grants that require yearly renewal, provides a guaranteed funding source for seven years. “[The Outstanding Investigator Award] gives you freedom.”