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Kansas City Royals star Alex Gordon is 50th Hutch Award honoree

Baseball great Dave Winfield will deliver annual ceremony’s keynote address at Safeco Field

Jan. 28, 2015 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

Hutch Award honoree Alex Gordon and his wife, Jamie Gordon, toured a Fred Hutch lab Wednesday during their Seattle visit

"It was a great honor to be selected for the Hutch Award," said Kansas City Royals star Alex Gordon during a Wednesday visit to Fred Hutch, where he and his wife, Jamie, toured a clinical research lab.

Baseball season comes early in Seattle once again as friends and fans of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center take the field for the 2015 Hutch Award Luncheon, which will be held Thursday at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners.

Nearly 1,000 community members, cancer researchers and sports celebrities will attend this year’s luncheon and silent auction, which will honor Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, winner of the 50th annual Hutch Award. Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield will deliver the keynote address.

“It was a great honor to be selected for the Hutch Award,” Gordon said during a visit to the Fred Hutch campus on Wednesday. “It’s really impressive and it has a lot of history. You look at some of the names [of past winners] – Mickey Mantle, George Brett, Johnny Bench. I just saw my name on the plaque outside with all of those guys. It’s definitely humbling.”

The Hutch Award is presented annually to a Major League Baseball player who exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of the late Fred Hutchinson, the beloved pitcher and manager who died of lung cancer at the age of 45. After his death, Seattle surgeon Dr. Bill Hutchinson helped to create the world-class research center as a living memorial to his younger brother’s memory.

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A mother's legacy: Dave Winfield has spent his life carrying on his mom's values

Hutch Award Luncheon keynote speaker was the first active athlete to start a charitable foundation

Jan. 28, 2015 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

Dave Winfield is the keynote speaker of this year's Hutch Award Luncheon

This file photo from 1995 shows Dave Winfield, sidelined due to an injury, sitting alone in the dugout as he watches his Cleveland Indians teammates work out in Atlanta.

File photo by Ed Reinke / AP

He was one of the most imposing athletes to ever set foot onto a baseball diamond, a 6-foot-6-inch powerhouse who was drafted by four leagues in three different sports after college and became one of seven Major League Baseball players in history to amass 3,000 hits and 450 home runs during his 22-year career. 

But Hall-of-Famer Dave Winfield said he felt powerless when it came to dealing with his mother’s cancer diagnosis. She was the person who inspired him most in life, he said, a petite woman with a giant presence who instilled in him a set of values that shaped a stellar career and a lifetime of good works.

Winfield, now 63, will be the keynote speaker at the Hutch Award Luncheon on Thursday at Seattle’s Safeco Field. The Hutch Award is given each year to recognize a baseball player who epitomizes the spirit of Fred Hutchinson, the courageous and inspirational MLB player and manager who died of lung cancer at the age of 45. This year’s winner is Alex Gordon, a star outfielder for the Kansas City Royals who’s helped raise more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research.

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New strategy could prevent GMO leaks from lab to the wild

Scientists rewrite bacterium’s genetic language so it can’t survive outside the lab

Jan. 27, 2015 | By Dr. Rachel Tompa / Fred Hutch News Service

The bacterium E. coli

Scientists have engineered the bacterium E. coli (pictured here) so its life depends on an artificial chemical available only in the laboratory. This strategy could prevent leaks of genetically modified organisms from the lab into natural ecosystems.

Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health

Scientists have crafted a bacterium incapable of surviving without human assistance. Using this strategy to build genetically modified organisms would prevent those GMOs from escaping into natural ecosystems, they say.

Genetically modified bacteria are commonly used in research and industry – for example, the bacterium E. coli is used to manufacture insulin and other drugs.

Whether bacteria could ever escape from those settings and wreak havoc in the natural world is unclear, but many members of the public feel containment strategies are necessary to prevent such a leak.

Scientists have tried many tactics to contain GMOs by manipulating their genes, but the bacteria eventually have found ways to evade those strategies, reverting back to their natural form. It became clear that any manufactured containment system would need multiple fail-safe layers.

Now, a team of scientists led by Dr. George Church of Harvard Medical School, involving collaborators at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has created a molecular Fort Knox that they believe is evolution-proof, rewiring all of E. coli’s DNA to render the bug completely dependent on a synthetic chemical. 

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Gratitude, guilt and surviving cancer

Living through cancer is life-changing — often in unimagined and challenging ways, says leukemia survivor Jessie Quinn

Jan. 26, 2015 | By Dr. Sabrina Richards / Fred Hutch News Service

Jessie Quinn shown dancing at a friend's wedding with her daughter and husband

A cancer diagnosis is a ticket to an emotional rollercoaster that doesn’t end when doctors pronounce a cure. Leukemia survivor Jessie Quinn, shown dancing at a friend’s wedding with her daughter and husband, carries a deep sadness even after her strength and zest for life has returned. “I think about all the people who went through this, to get us where we are now. It’s an overwhelming thought to me.”

Photo courtesy of Jessie Quinn

There’s a cancer narrative you see a lot. A noble individual is struck by the terrible disease, with which they do battle. After righteous struggle, the fighter emerges victorious and reclaims their former life. Now gifted with the wisdom of the saints, they remain above the petty daily struggles that mire mere mortals.

It’s an appealing story. It gives meaning to a dark chapter in anyone’s life. But it’s a little hard to live up to, said Jessie Quinn, a four-year survivor of acute myeloid leukemia. “There’s an expectation that you’ll be a beacon of hope, a Buddha of wisdom. I felt none of that,” she said.

Staring your own mortality in the face, it turns out, doesn’t also confer a peek into some grand universal plan. Surviving cancer also does not bring a magical immunity to the burden of non-life-threatening daily struggles. Survival instead often brings unanticipated challenges.

Quinn was just 35 when she was diagnosed with AML. Happily married, engaged in an active outdoor career as a wildlife biologist in California and just getting her parental sea legs as the mother of an 18-month-old daughter, she saw her life unfolding along a happy, rewarding — and healthy — path. But cancer sent her life spinning down unexpected and uncharted byways.

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Fight the flu with Netflix?

Staying home and avoiding others can put a big dent in an epidemic, new TV-flu study finds

Jan. 22, 2015 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

protective masks in Mexico City

While some wore protective masks in Mexico City to combat H1N1's spread during the 2009 outbreak, staying home and watching TV was what helped slow the spread, a new study suggests.

File photo by Eduardo Verdugo / AP

We’ve all heard the advice. If you get sick with a cold or flu, stay home so you don’t pass it on to friends, co-workers or that guy sitting next to you on the bus.

Sure, sure, we say, loading up on Nyquil and heading out the door. Who can stay home when we’ve got projects to complete at work, movies to see, or that special birthday dinner out on the town with mom?

An interesting new study that looked at home television viewing during a flu epidemic in Mexico, however, shows just how much staying at home and avoiding contact with others can actually quell the spread of infectious diseases like the flu.

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The diet dilemma

In a landscape crowded with contenders that each promise better health, how do you choose the best eating plan?

Jan. 21, 2015 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

Science beakers

How do we sort through the confusion to find an eating plan that works for us – and still makes good scientific sense? We asked top experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and elsewhere for their opinions.

Illustration by Kimberly Carney / Fred Hutch News Service

When Angela Smalley decided to go on a diet earlier this month, it wasn’t about squeezing into a smaller dress size by March (although she admits that would be nice). It was about maintaining her health for the long haul.

“I’d like to take care of my body now rather than have to be reactive to problems that might come up as I age,” said the 47-year-old Seattle marketing executive of her recent switch to an eating plan that restricts carbohydrates, sugar and dairy and loads up on vegetables and lean protein. “I don't have any health problems right now, and I'd like to keep it that way.”

When we’re in our 20s and 30s, we diet to fit into wedding dresses, interview suits and that favorite pair of skinny jeans. But as we get older, studies show that our goals shift and become less about how we look and more about how we feel – or want to feel – for the rest of our lives. We diet to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and to try to fend off cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Sure, we want to “look good naked,” as Kevin Spacey famously said in the film “American Beauty,” but we also want to improve our overall health and longevity.  

And we look for eating plans to help us accomplish this. Unfortunately, the diet landscape is crowded with contenders, each one promising better health and longer life by lowering our glycemic index, raising our alkaline level or reducing our oxidative stress through a handful of Fabulous Miracle Superfoods! We’re blinded by science; we’re blinded by pseudoscience. And every 10 minutes a new study comes out that turns the last one on its head.

How do we solve this diet dilemma and find an eating plan that works for us – and still makes good scientific sense? We asked top experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and elsewhere for their opinions.

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