Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service
Barbara Stephanus, a longtime donor to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has gifted not one but two endowed chairs to support the center's science:
- Dr. Denise Galloway, who studies the role of human viruses in cancer development, is the recipient of the Paul Stephanus Memorial Endowed Chair, named in honor of Barbara Stephanus’ late husband, who worked in real estate. (Galloway previously held one of the Hutch’s 40th Anniversary Endowed Chairs.)
- Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, a pioneer in stem cell and gene therapy, is the recipient of the Stephanus Family Endowed Chair for Cell and Gene Therapy. (Kiem previously held the José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at the Hutch.)
Kiem’s and Galloway’s endowed chairs were celebrated at a recent Fred Hutch reception that was attended by Barbara Stephanus; her son, John; his wife, Evelina; and other friends and family. Attendees from the Hutch included Executive Vice President and Deputy Director Dr. Bruce Clurman, Senior Vice President and Human Biology Division Director Dr. Eric Holland and Philanthropy representatives Nancy Greenwood Vehrs and Dave Kolk.
Barbara Stephanus, a resident of the Seattle area, had been donating increasing amounts to the Hutch for the past 28 years before she decided to create a lasting legacy by funding the two chairs. Thanks to her generosity, the chairs will provide sustained, long-term research support for Kiem and Galloway. “I’m excited to support research at the Hutch,” she said, “and I’m eager to see how my gifts can be helpful to the Hutch during my lifetime.”
Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland has set a priority to dramatically increase the number of endowed faculty chairs to enhance faculty recruitment and retention. Endowed chairs also allow chair holders to initiate research collaborations across the Hutch that otherwise would not be possible, said Kelly O’Brien, vice president of Philanthropy.
“In that regard, both Denise and Hans-Peter are incredible,” O’Brien said. “I think between the two of them, with their collective 66 years at the Hutch, they have worked with researchers across every discipline and program. Their leadership and mentorship over the years have been invaluable assets to the center.”
Galloway leads the Pathogen-Associated Malignancies Integrated Research Center, a campus-wide collaboration to address the approximately 20 percent of all cancers that arise from infections. Her own research on human papillomavirus, or HPV, helped scientists understand how the virus can lead to cancers and contributed to the development of a first-of-its kind vaccine against HPV — a vaccine that prevents cervical and other anogenital cancers. This research has illustrated the potential impact of vaccines on cancer prevention — one of several important pathways to cures.
“I’m grateful for Barbara’s support in helping us prevent and treat HPV-associated cancers. It may take another lifetime to eliminate these cancers based on widespread uptake of the vaccine at the population level and screening for those who are already infected with HPV, but we know how to do it,” Galloway said.
Kiem’s goal is to combine two powerful approaches — gene therapy and blood stem cell transplantation — to cure diseases such as HIV, leukemia and the brain cancer glioblastoma as well as genetic blood diseases such as anemia and sickle cell disease. To this end, he has launched a first-of-its-kind clinical trial to use gene therapy to fix the disrupted gene that causes the blood and bone marrow failure associated with Fanconi anemia.
“What a wonderful honor to receive this chair and Barbara’s support for our stem cell and gene therapy work,” Kiem said. “This will greatly help in developing new blood stem cell therapies for patients with cancer and blood diseases.”
Kiem’s and Galloway’s endowed chairs were inspired in part by the Hutch’s matching program for establishing endowed faculty chairs. This special initiative recognizes the strategic importance Fred Hutch leadership places on supporting faculty and partnering with generous donors to recognize and catalyze their lifesaving work. The Hutch is now home to 21 endowed chairs, 18 of which were funded in the past two years.
Kristen Woodward, an associate editor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been in communications at Fred Hutch for 20 years. Before that, she was a managing editor at the University of Michigan Health System and a reporter/editor at The Holland Sentinel, a daily in western Michigan. She has received many national awards for health and science writing. She received her B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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