Moonshot Listening Tour

National Cancer Moonshot Initiative

Moonshot Listening Tour

On March 21, we welcomed Vice President Joe Biden and his team to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as part of the new National Cancer Moonshot initiative. Echoing the call made by President John F. Kennedy in May of 1961 to put Americans on the moon by decade’s end, the new cancer moonshot aims to bring together some of the brightest scientific minds in the country — and beyond — to accelerate cancer cures.

This historic and ambitious effort will require the knowledge, tenacity and, most of all, the cooperation of multiple stakeholders: cancer patients and researchers, physicians and pharmaceutical companies, data scientists and policymakers, insurance companies and federal agencies. Collaboration is crucial to its success, just as it has been crucial to the success of Fred Hutch, our consortium partners — University of Washington, Seattle Children’s and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance — all of our research partnerships for over 40 years.

We look forward to working with Vice President Biden and others in the years ahead to help eradicate cancer as a leading cause of human suffering and death.

UPDATE: See video, photos and stories about Vice President Biden's visit.


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Dr. Gary Gilliland 
Fred Hutch president and director

Dr. Stan Riddell 
Immunotherapy researcher

Trevor Biggs 
Immunotherapy patient

Learn more about this fundamental shift in the way cancer is treated, cured 

Looking Ahead

  • Researchers at Fred Hutch have estimated that within 10 years, half of all patients with cancer that has spread to other parts of the body will be treated with some form of immunotherapy.
  • Eventually, immunotherapies could drastically reduce or eliminate the short-term side effects of cancer treatments — from hair loss to long hospital stays — and even more costly long-term side effects such as secondary cancers, organ damage, infertility and more.
  • Using today’s technologies, scientists can quickly and cheaply decode the full genetic blueprint of a tumor. And within that blueprint, they can find features that make cancer cells different from the healthy cells they once were — features that could become targets for immunotherapies. This is where the intersection of immunotherapy and precision oncology offers such tremendous promise for rapid advances in the coming years.
  • With increased investment in biomedical research, we can bring advances to more patients faster by answering questions like: Why don’t some people respond to these therapies while others do? How can we identify the patients most likely to benefit from a given therapy? How can we make these treatments as safe, effective and accessible for as many patients with as many cancer types as possible?

Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D.
President and Director
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

As president and director of Fred Hutch, Dr. Gilliland sets the strategic direction of the center, oversees center-wide initiatives and represents the Hutch’s interests to major partners and governmental bodies. Prior to taking the helm of Fred Hutch in January 2015, he held numerous clinical, research and leadership titles, including professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the leukemia program at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. He was senior vice president and global oncology franchise head at Merck and Co., where he successfully led the breakthrough immunotherapy drug Keytruda to market. And as vice dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, he spearheaded a new model for personalized medicine within the University of Pennsylvania system.

Dr. Gilliland’s background is as a researcher and clinician specializing in blood cancers like leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. He has made major contributions to the understanding of the genetic basis of blood diseases, particularly leukemia, and he and his team have translated their seminal findings into new, precise treatments that stop cancer while causing minimal side effects.

Dr. Gilliland earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1980 and a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1984. He has received many awards and honors in his career; including election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015; the William Dameshek Prize from the American Society of Hematology; the Emil J. Freireich Award from the MD Anderson Cancer Center; and the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation, of which he is an elected member. He is also an elected member of the Association of American Physicians.

Stanley Riddell, M.D.
Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch
Professor of Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine

Dr. Riddell is a leader in developing therapies that harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer and infectious diseases. His research focuses on adoptive T-cell therapy, which involves removing T cells from a patient’s blood, genetically reprogramming them to specifically recognize and destroy diseased cells, and infusing large numbers of them back into the patient to cure or contain the disease.

In 2010, Dr. Riddell and 23 colleagues from the Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium received the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer’s first-ever Team Science Award for their major contributions to research and clinical translation of cancer immunotherapy.

Dr. Riddell’s pioneering accomplishments include developing techniques to rapidly multiply the number of disease-fighting T cells used in adoptive immunotherapy; discovering that a rare subset of T cells can produce larger populations of specialized, disease-fighting T cells capable of surviving in patients for extended periods; and discovering that using clearly defined combinations of T-cell types can make the therapy more effective.

His research also led to the discovery that certain molecular mismatches between donor and recipient can boost the cancer-fighting potential of a blood stem cell transplant. Other mismatches contribute to graft-vs.-host disease, a common transplant complication. Understanding these differences helps scientists develop less toxic, more effective cancer treatments.

Dr. Riddell earned his M.D. from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 1979. He trained in medical oncology and immunology at Fred Hutch and UW from 1985 until 1990. He joined the Fred Hutch faculty in 1991 and the UW faculty in 1994. He is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians.

Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D.
President and Co-Founder, Institute of Systems Biology

Dr. Hood’s outstanding contributions have had a resounding effect on the advancement of science since the 1960s. Throughout his career, he has adhered to the advice of his mentor, Dr. William J. Dreyer: “If you want to practice biology, do it on the leading edge, and if you want to be on the leading edge, invent new tools for deciphering biological information.”

Dr. Hood was involved in the development of five instruments critical for contemporary biology — namely, automated DNA sequencers, DNA synthesizers, protein sequencers, peptide synthesizers, and an ink jet printer for constructing DNA arrays. These instruments opened the door to high-throughput biological data and the era of big data in biology and medicine. He helped pioneer the human genome program —making it possible with the automated DNA sequencer.

In 1992, Dr. Hood created the first cross-disciplinary biology department, Molecular Biotechnology, at the University of Washington. In 2000, he left the UW to co-found the Institute for Systems Biology. Dr. Hood has made many seminal discoveries in the fields of immunology, neurobiology and biotechnology, and he has been a leader in the development of systems biology, its applications to cancer, neurodegenerative disease and personalized medicine.

Dr. Hood has published 750 papers and received 36 patents, 17 honorary degrees and more than 100 awards and honors. He is one of only 15 individuals elected to all three National Academies — the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine). He has founded or co-founded 15 different biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Rosetta, Integrated Diagnostics and Arivale. Dr. Hood serves as president of ISB and recently was named senior vice president and chief science officer for Providence Health & Services.

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.
American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine (Medical Genetics) and Genome Sciences, University of Washington

In addition to being a faculty member of the University of Washington, Dr. King is an affiliate member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She was the first to show that breast cancer is inherited in some families, as the result of mutations in the gene that she named BRCA1. She has also characterized BRCA2 and other genes essential to DNA repair that, when mutant, predispose women to breast or ovarian cancer.

In addition to inherited breast and ovarian cancer, her research interests include the genetic basis of schizophrenia, genetic disorders in children and human evolution. She pioneered the use of DNA sequencing for human rights investigations.

Dr. King has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society and as a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. She has served on the advisory committee to the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, multiple councils and study sections of the NIH and as past president of the American Society of Human Genetics.

In 2014 she received the Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science. This year she will receive the National Medal of Science, an award administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation.

Hy Levitsky, M.D.
Executive Vice President of Research and Chief Scientific Officer, Juno Therapeutics Inc.

Dr. Levitsky is Juno’s executive vice president of research and chief scientific officer. He joined Juno in May 2015.

Prior to joining Juno in May 2015, Dr. Levitsky held the position of head of Cancer Immunology Experimental Medicine at Roche Pharma Research and Development in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to that, he served as a professor of oncology, medicine and urology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Levitsky received a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and an M.D. from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He trained in medical oncology as a senior clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center and taught in the School of Medicine until 2011.
His areas of expertise include oncology, immunology, hematologic malignances, bone marrow transplantation, cellular and molecular medicine, and pathobiology.

Dr. Levitsky is also a founding Executive Committee member of the Cancer Immunotherapy Consortium of the Cancer Research Institute. He was a Stohlman Scholar of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America (LLS) and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is also an active member of the American Association of Cancer Research, the American Society of Hematology, and he is one of a select group of immunologists serving on review panels for both the LLS Specialized Center of Research Program and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. He was a founding member of MIATA (Minimal Information About T cell Assays), advises the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on cancer immunotherapy issues and serves on the External Scientific Advisory Board of the Pasteur Institute’s Center for Human Immunology. Dr. Levitsky holds several patents.

Julie R. Park, M.D.
Attending Physician, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Dr. Park’s many roles include attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, professor in pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and associate in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She is also director of the pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at the University of Washington.

Dr. Park is an active member of the Children’s Oncology Group Consortium, and as chair of the COG Neuroblastoma Scientific Committee, she provides leadership for the development of neuroblastoma clinical research within COG. Dr. Park’s primary research focus has been investigating novel therapies for the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare but aggressive form of childhood cancer. She has conducted a multicenter clinical trial to determine the feasibility and toxicity of a novel induction chemotherapy regimen for high-risk neuroblastoma and has collaborated with local and national investigators to optimize the use of radiation therapy to help treat the disease.

Dr. Park’s work has led to her development of the current national randomized Phase 3 trial within COG for treatment of newly diagnosed high-risk neuroblastoma. She has ongoing collaborations to develop adoptive immunotherapy approaches for neuroblastoma. She also leads the Advanced Therapeutics Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital and has steered Seattle Children’s into becoming a leading participant in the Phase 1 Consortium of COG and the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy Consortium. Dr. Park has been actively involved in the development of novel chemotherapeutic agents that may block critical tumor-cell pathways necessary for tumor cell growth and survival.

Angelique Richard, Ph.D., R.N.
Chief Nurse Executive and Vice President of Clinical Operations, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the treatment arm of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. Richard oversees nursing, infusion, imaging, pharmacy, supportive care, radiation therapy, specialty clinics, clinical laboratories and satellite clinics.

Dr. Richard has extensive experience in the fields of nursing and leadership. Before joining SCCA in 2014, she served as the chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Presence Healthcare – Saint Francis Hospital, where she led her organization to achieve Magnet Designation, the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s highest recognition for nursing excellence. Before Saint Francis Hospital, she worked as the chief nurse executive at Adventist Health System – Glen Oaks Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Richard currently serves as a trustee of Rush University Medical Center.

Dr. Richard started her bachelor of science in nursing at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and went on to finish her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Rush University. Additionally, she received her master of science from Rush University. After completing her master’s degree, she also received a doctor of philosophy from the University of Illinois. A published researcher, Dr. Richard co-authored a study, Reducing Central Line Catheter Infections in Bone Marrow Transplant Patients, which was published in Nursing Clinics of North America in 1995.

Bard Richmond
Philanthropist, cancer survivor, entrepreneur, and founder of Community Voice Mail, a Seattle-based voice mail service for the homeless

Mr. Richmond is known for making bold, innovative choices that have helped transform lives. In 1999, he was recognized by President Bill Clinton with a Point of Light award for his work creating Community Voice Mail, which connected hundreds of thousands of people who were homeless with voicemail and group messages that allowed them to find jobs and housing and to stay in touch with doctors, teachers, family and friends.

For much of his adult life, Mr. Richmond has been committed to giving back to the community in a number of ways, including supporting cancer research at Fred Hutch in the area of immunotherapy. He also supports neuroscience labs at the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a degree in computer science and engineering.

Mr. Richmond is the founder, CEO and chairman of Active Voice Corporation, which developed voicemail, automated attendant and other systems for businesses large and small. The company was acquired by Cisco in 2000, shortly before he and his wife, Julie, had their first children, twins, later followed by their third child, all boys. The sale provided him a chance to shift his focus to being a father, his philanthropic endeavors, and hobbies of windsurfing , kiteboarding and music.

In 2014, cancer became personal for him when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of multiple myeloma. He underwent a blood stem cell transplant at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in 2015.

Beyond his own experience, Mr. Richmond is committed to helping make possible better treatments for others living with cancer now and those who will be diagnosed in the future.

Jeffery C. Ward, M.D.
Medical Oncologist/Hematologist, Swedish Cancer Institute

Dr. Ward is a board-certified medical oncologist/hematologist at the Swedish Cancer Institute in Edmonds, Washington. A graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, and residency and fellowship trained at the University of Minnesota, he has provided cancer and hematology care in the Edmonds community since 1993.

Dr. Ward is also board certified in hospice and palliative care and has been a medical director for Providence Hospice of Snohomish County for more than 20 years.

Dr. Ward has been an active advocate for community-based cancer care in Washington state. He is past president of the Washington State Medical Oncology Society and serves on its board and as its representative to the Washington State Medicare Contractor Advisory Committee.

Nationally, he is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where he served on the Clinical Practice Committee from 2008 to 2014 and as its Chairman from 2012 to 2013. There he was responsible for identifying, drafting and advocating public policy issues related to the practice of oncology. During his tenure, Dr. Ward led ASCO’s cancer care payment reform and 340B workgroups. He continues to co-chair the ASCO Payment Reform Workgroup and serves on ASCO's Government Relations and Education Committees.

An active author and speaker on the topic of alternative payment plans and chemotherapy reimbursement in cancer care, Dr. Ward is a proponent of evidence-based personalized therapeutics and value-based clinical pathways to provide high-quality, affordable cancer care in the communities where patients live and work.