Photo by Matt Hagen
One of my most important responsibilities is hiring faculty who can make an impact on human health. This requires both high scientific and leadership standards. This was the task when my colleagues and I started looking for a new director of the Human Biology Division: We wanted someone who could help make Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as well known for solid tumor research as it is for its work on blood cancers. When we met Dr. Eric Holland, we knew he was the type of person who could achieve this goal.
Holland, who came this summer to Fred Hutch from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is a renowned researcher pursuing new therapies for the deadliest brain tumors. He’s also a top neurosurgeon, which makes him the rare person who can juggle two of medicine’s most complicated areas.
At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Holland built a world-class brain cancer program and secured almost $50 million in federal funding to support it. His success was partly due to his unique approach – he broke down the barriers between disciplines by encouraging everyone from surgeons to mathematicians to work together toward cures.
Now Holland is bringing his model to the Hutch and the University of Washington, where he will head the Nancy and Buster Alvord Brain Tumor Center. He wants to quickly transform brain tumor treatment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and UW Medicine. To do this, he launched the Brain Tumor Profiling Initiative, a UW-Hutch collaboration that is building one of the world’s largest brain tumor databases.
The database will contain complete genetic profiles of thousands of patients’ brain tumors and detailed records of how each patient was treated and how they responded. New patients will have their tumor profiled, allowing doctors to compare that tumor to others in the database. Then they can select the most effective treatment. This tailored approach could ultimately improve treatment for patients worldwide.
Holland also has ambitious plans to lead his Hutch and UW colleagues toward new therapies for solid tumors that affect not just the brain, but also the breast, colon, head and neck, lung and other areas. He recently unveiled the Solid Tumor Translational Research network, which focuses on eight different tumor sites and brings together investigators and clinicians from Fred Hutch, UW Medicine, SCCA and Seattle Children’s.
Holland’s projects are all part of the Hutch’s ongoing push to develop the next generation of lifesaving therapies. We can’t do this without private donations, which help us recruit researchers like Holland and his team, and give them the tools they need for success. Thank you for your support.