Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service
Several teams from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Communications & Marketing Department were recognized for their recent work with 12 2016 MarCom Awards, which recognize outstanding work by creative professionals in the marketing and communications fields.
The awards are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals and are one of the most longstanding and largest creative competitions in the world. The 2016 competition received more than 6,000 entries. The Hutch team received awards in seven different categories for all 12 projects they submitted for consideration, including three honorable mentions, five gold awards and four platinum awards.
“Just as our world-class researchers have a great passion for their work, we too are passionate in driving a wider and deeper understanding of Fred Hutch,” said Kathryn Sweyer, Fred Hutch’s director of marketing. “To be recognized for doing what we love and to be doing it in service of the Hutch is incredibly rewarding.”
Hutch Magazine, Fred Hutch’s stewardship magazine — a collaborative effort from the department’s writers, editors, photographers, graphic designers and marketing team — was also lauded. The spring 2016 issue, centered on women in science, won a platinum award, and the summer 2016 issue, focused on collaborations to end cancer, received an honorable mention.
And Hutch staff writer Diane Mapes won three awards for her reported essays published on fredhutch.org. Mapes, a breast cancer survivor, has penned personal stories on survivorship topics ranging from coming to terms with a “post-cancer body” in the story “Your body, after cancer,” which won a platinum award; to a two-part series on the sexual aftermath of cancer treatment, which won both gold and platinum awards.
Mapes’ articles have reached a wide audience through the Hutch website, social media and survivorship groups. She hears often from patients and survivors thanking her for putting a voice to their experiences, she said. One email she received in response to “Your body, after cancer” read: “It is comforting to know that I am not alone in the survivor issues … The words that were most meaningful and will be helpful as I move forward are ‘every scar has a story.’ I needed to hear that as I have many of them.”
The other awards included: a gold award for the coordination around former Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer “Moonshot” visit to the Hutch and the Hutch’s Moonshot Summit in June; a gold award for Fred Hutch’s Instagram page and an honorable mention for its Facebook page; a gold award for a news story on the “Rock Star Women in Science” Town Hall event organized by Fred Hutch in June; and an honorable mention for a video about Juan Perez, a Seattle-area piano player who played through intensive treatment for his advanced sarcoma.
— Rachel Tompa / Fred Hutch News Service
Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service
The federal government has tapped the Paulovich Laboratory at Fred Hutch to create a panel of tests to measure key proteins that can serve as markers for tumors. The effort ultimately could lead to treatments that are more specifically targeted to a patient’s distinct type of cancer.
The Applied Proteogenomics OrganizationaL Learning and Outcomes, or APOLLO, network, which is a partnership among the National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, is part of the Cancer Moonshot launched last year and led by former Vice President Joseph Biden. The network is contributing to the initiative’s goal of making 10 years of progress in cancer research in just five years by using methods in proteogenomics to identify new ways to find and treat cancer. The emerging field of proteogenomics examines how a patient’s genes and the proteins the genes produce contribute to cancer growth and response to cancer treatments.
“There’s a growing appreciation of the value of proteomic approaches to studying cancer and how they are complementary to genomic approaches,” said Dr. Amanda "Mandy" Paulovich, who is a member of the Fred Hutch Clinical Research Division and a professor in the Department of Medicine/Division of Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
‘Matching the right tumor with the right drug’
“Genomic profiles alone, while advancing our ability to predict cancer responses to therapy, cannot in many cases provide sufficient information to definitively determine which types of cancers respond best to which therapeutics,” Paulovich said. Since most cancer drugs target proteins, the hope is that adding protein analysis to gene analysis will improve the ability to predict tumor response to treatment, and to eventually match the right tumor with the right drug, she said.
The Paulovich Lab is part of NCI’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium, or CPTAC, which was established in 2007 to bring together leading centers nationwide in a comprehensive and coordinated effort to accelerate the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of large-scale proteomic and genomic analysis, or proteogenomics.
Paulovich’s team has pioneered targeted, reproducible proteomic assays that offer significant advantages over traditional laboratory methods for measuring proteins. Established by work spanning over a decade of preclinical testing, these advantages include standardization across laboratories and the ability to reliably measure many proteins at a time in a single blood or tissue sample.
“We’re excited to take this technology that we’ve extensively vetted in preclinical experiments and now begin to implement it in clinical trials,” Paulovich said.
More than 100 tests the pipeline
Since she joined the Hutch in 2003, Paulovich has been developing laboratory tests to measure proteins expressed in human tumors. She and her team have created 249 tests so far, and they have more than 100 additional tests in their pipeline.
Paulovich’s proteomics assays are built on a technology called multiple reaction monitoring, or MRM, mass spectrometry, which is widely used in clinical chemistry for quantifying smaller molecules, or metabolites. MRM was named the “Method of the Year” for 2012 by the journal Nature Methods.
APOLLO initially is focusing on lung cancer patients, with plans to eventually include other forms of cancer. Researchers and clinicians will work side-by-side to classify tumors based on molecular changes in genes and in the levels of proteins, and they hope ultimately to use that information to devise tests to recommend targeted therapies or refer patients to appropriate clinical trials.
Paulovich’s lab will develop a customized panel of MRM-based assays and deploy these assays to quantify tumor proteins in clinical samples from patients receiving treatment. Other collaborators in the Moonshot project will decide on treatments, track how well the treatments shrink the tumors, and then search for correlations that show whether the tumors’ protein makeup related to how well the patients responded to treatment.
New drug targets
Paulovich, an oncologist who saw patients before turning to a research career, hopes the work will help to identify new targets for cancer therapeutics and to match patients with cancer drugs that are best suited to their conditions.
“Being the physician in the room ordering toxic chemotherapies for my patients and not knowing whether it would do more harm than good, it was a daily ethical dilemma,” Paulovich said of her experience working with cancer patients before she came to Fred Hutch.
“I thought I could make a bigger impact by developing translational methods,” she said. The protein assays she is creating eventually could become companion diagnostics that oncologists could use when making personalized treatment decisions for their patients.
The Cancer Moonshot aims to speed the discovery and delivery of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment approaches. The initiative is led by NCI and former Vice President Biden, who visited the Hutch last summer as part of a “listening tour” of the nation’s top cancer research centers.
— Molly McElroy / Fred Hutch News Service