Clinical Research Programs

Division researchers conduct studies in the laboratory and at the bedside, where we run clinical trials investigating lifesaving therapies for patients. Our priority is translating our most promising scientific discoveries into real-world applications for the patients who need them most. This includes revolutionary techniques in immunotherapy as well as advances in treatments to improve patient outcomes and reduce toxicities and other complications.

Thanks to the caliber of the scientists and clinicians at Fred Hutch, along with our commitment to creative cross-disciplinary research, we are able to conduct world-class research with real-world impact in curing cancer and other serious diseases. Our key research areas include transplantation, tumor biology, cancer genomics and eliminating serious complications, like graft-versus-host disease, among others.
 

Transplantation Biology

Beginning with the initial discovery of bone marrow transplantation as a cure for leukemia and other blood cancers, Fred Hutch researchers and clinicians have worked tirelessly to make transplantation safer and more effective. Our current work aims to improve the process at every stage. We are developing less toxic techniques for eliminating diseased cancer cells in preparation for transplantation. We are improving the chance of matching blood products for transplantation, for example by using expanded cord blood. And we are working to eliminate relapse as well as serious complications, like graft-versus-host disease and infections.
 

Improving Patient Outcomes

The Geoff Hill Lab is developing new therapies to prevent and treat graft-versus-host disease, relapse and opportunistic infections after transplantation. He developed the first preclinical model for CMV after bone marrow transplantation.

Bone Marrow Transplantation Laboratory
 

Expanding Cord Blood Stem Cells

The cord blood program is using a method we developed to multiply, or expand, cord blood stems cells and to use these cells as a bridge therapy of infection-fighting cells to improve patients’ transplant survival and reduce infection risk during chemotherapy.

Cord Blood Transplant Program
 

Predicting Outcomes for Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia

The Sorror Lab has developed risk assessment tools to better predict survival after blood stem cell transplantation for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The team focuses on sick or older patients, identifying customized markers and predicters of health that can help providers and patients optimize their treatment decisions.

AML Treatment Tools

Preventing Graft-versus-Host Disease

The Bleakley laboratory is developing new therapies and transplantation strategies to separate the beneficial graft-versus-leukemia effect from potentially dangerous graft-versus-host-disease, to improve the outcomes of patients with high-risk leukemia. The team is engaged in clinical trials of several immunotherapies, and Dr. Bleakley treats adults and children with leukemia.

Bleakley lab
 

Harnessing Chimerism to Treat Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases

The Nelson laboratory focuses on chimerism, which involves having cells or DNA that originated in another person. Chimersim is created artificially in transplantation, but it can also occur naturally during pregnancy. The team studies chimerism in autoimmune diseases and cancer. In cancer, they work to harness the power of naturally acquired chimerism to fight acute leukemia through cord blood transplantation.

Nelson lab

Reducing Complications in Blood Stem Cell Transplantation

The Storb lab combines basic and clinical research to understand and eliminate barriers to successful hematopoeitic stem cell transplantation. These include toxicity, graft-versus-host disease and graft failure. The program’s goal is to continually improve treatment of patients with blood cancers and genetic diseases. The team also developed “mini” transplants, which are safer and less taxing for older patients.

Storb lab

Immunotherapy

Just as bone marrow transplantation was revolutionary in the 1970s, immunotherapy represents the cutting edge of cancer treatment today. The goal is to train and empower our natural immune system to fight cancer. Fred Hutch scientists are engaged in laboratory and clinical research to understand the molecular underpinnings of immunity, so we can train our immune cells to recognize and eliminate cancer and other diseases. Research also focuses on eliminating the molecular shields cancer cells can use to evade the immune system. Plus we are exploring ways to use antibodies to target toxins directly to cancer cells without harming surrounding healthy tissue. In the Clinical Research Division, we operate a robust translational research program aimed at advancing laboratory innovations into clinical trials, where they can treat patients. Division researchers collaborate with Hutch scientific colleagues through many projects including the Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center.
 

Program in Immunology

Program in Immunology researchers are studying how immune cells respond to disease and how to safely enhance immune responses to better control, cure and potentially prevent cancers and other serious diseases. The team is advancing many state-of-the-art immunotherapy approaches and has initiated a series of clinical trials to treat patients with melanoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, leukemia, breast cancer and lung cancer. Additional research focuses on developing and testing immunotherapy to treat life-threatening viral infections, including HIV as well as to prevent graft-versus-host disease, a common complication of blood cell transplantation.

Program in Immunology
 

Normal and Cancerous Blood Cell Transformation

The Bernstein lab studies normal and cancerous hematopoietic stem cells, with the goal of developing novel therapies. The team also conducts studies aimed at creating antibody-targeted therapies for lymphoma and leukemia.

Bernstein lab
 

Radioimmunotherapy and CAR T Cell Therapy Against Myeloma and Lymphoma

The Green lab investigates immunotherapy to treat multiple myeloma and lymphoma. The team has identified a protein that can be successfully targeted for radioimmunotherapy in animal models. Radioimmunotherapy uses antibodies to deliver toxic radiation directly to tumors. They group is also working to develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapies against multiple myeloma, another form of blood cancer. CAR T cell therapy engineers patients’ own immune cells to recognize and attack their cancer. Dr. Green continually brings his research discoveries rapidly to patients in the form of clinical trials

Green lab
 

Engineering T Cells for Cancer Therapy

The Greenberg lab focuses on basic immunology and the immunology of cancer cells as well as on the development and assessment of therapies using T cells to target specific cancers and infections. The team is expert in identifying and testing tumor proteins that serve as effective targets. They have pioneered methods for identifying and expanding T cell receptors, and they continue to develop and test additional genetic engineering techniques to effectively target cancer.

Greenberg lab
 

Improving Leukemia and Lymphoma Therapies

The Orozco lab strives to develop and improve antibody therapies against leukemia and lymphoma, with the goal of translating laboratory findings into the clinic. In the laboratory, the team is developing methods to more selectively deliver radiation to tumors. They are also testing therapies that combine radioimmunotherapy and transplantation, with the goal of decreasing toxicity and increasing efficacy.

Orozco lab

 

Immunotherapy Against Sarcoma

The Pollack lab is focused solely on harnessing the immune system to cure sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that originates in bones and soft tissues. The team takes a two-pronged approach, using T cells to target cancer cells, and overcoming the mechanisms tumor cells often use to evade the immune system. Dr. Pollack treats patients with Fred Hutch’s partner patient care organizations, where he conducts clinical trials to bring his laboratory discoveries to patients.

Pollack lab
 

Advances in Immunotherapy Techniques

The Riddell lab has pioneered innovative techniques for modulating immune cells for decades. Many of these techniques underpin today’s immunotherapy advances. The team continues to develop innovative methods for using T cell immunotherapy to treat cancer. Current research focuses on understanding normal T cell differentiation and signaling, developing animal models, rapidly expanding specific T cell subsets, and transferring promising laboratory results into the clinic.

Riddell lab
 

Optimizing Immunotherapy Against Lymphoma

The Till lab was among the first to conduct clinical trials showing that CAR T cell therapy could successfully treat lymphoma. Current work aims to improve upon the original results. The team also conducts clinical trials testing CAR T cell therapy as well as different combination therapies to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Dr. Till participates actively in multicenter clinical trials through SWOG, formerly the Southwest Oncology Group.

Till lab
 

Immunotherapy to Treat Blood Cancer and Prevent Remission

The Turtle lab strives to understand the characteristics of distinct subsets of human T cells, their potential utility for tumor immunotherapy and their role in immune reconstitution after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). The team focuses on genetic engineering of T cells to treat B-cell malignancies; chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy of acute myeloid leukemia; and immune reconstitution after HCT.

Turtle lab

Immunotherapy for HIV and Cancer

The Chapuis lab specializes in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and in developing novel methods for helping a patient’s immune system target life-threatening viral infections and malignancies. Building on positive results against HIV and melanoma, the team is focused on understanding the factors that lead to success, so they can optimize treatment in the future. Current work aims to keep T cell therapies active for as long as possible as well as to evade cancer’s protections against the immune system. The team conducts clinical trials and treats patients with myeloid leukemia, lung cancer and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Chapuis lab

 

Genetic Research and Therapeutics

The Division maintains a focus on understanding the genetics of cancer formation and progression. This enables our laboratory and clinical researchers to identify pathways and mechanisms that could be important areas for developing cancer therapies. We also conduct high-throughput research to screen and analyze agents for anti-cancer activity.
 

Gene Therapy to Treat Cancer and Other Diseases

The Adair lab uses a combination of cell biology, molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, nanomedicine and bioinformatics to develop new gene therapy treatments for many different diseases, including cancer. Our ultimate goal is to develop safe, cost-effective, and clinically relevant applications for gene therapy that can be implemented worldwide.

Adair lab

Chromatin changes that Influence Aging, Development and Cancer Formation

The Bedalov lab researches how changes in nuclear material within cells shapes nuclear events and functioning, including replication and transcriptional silencing. The ultimate goal is to understand how these molecular changes influence aging, cancer formation and normal development. The team is also interested in chromatin as a therapeutic target in cancer and other diseases that exhibit chromatin dysregulation.

Bedalov lab
 

Cell Division and Protein Degradation

The Clurman lab studies protein degradation, cell division, and carcinogenesis. This research has led to fundamental discoveries about how cell division is regulated in normal cells as well as changes that lead to cancer. The team uses multiple methods, including biochemistry, cell biology, proteomics, and gene targeting in human cells and mice. Whenever possible, the team pursues therapeutic applications that result from their basic research discoveries.

Clurman lab
 

Regeneration of Immune Cells in the Thymus

The Dudakov lab studies the molecular mechanisms that underlie the remarkable capacity of thymus cells to regenerate. The thymus plays a critical role in the immune system and is the primary site of T cell development. Using mouse models to simulate thymic damage, the team aims to exploit their understanding of these molecular systems to boost immune function.

Dudakov lab
 

Blood Stem Cell Development and Regulation

The Hadland lab aims to understand the origin of blood and immune cells during development. The team is particularly interested in the origin of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) plus what determines their unique properties, such as the capacity for life-long self-renewal as well as to reconstitute all components of the immune system following transplantation. Using mouse models, pluripotent stem cells, and engineered platforms, the ultimate goal is to apply our knowledge to drug discovery, gene editing, and cellular therapies in blood and immune disorders.

Hadland lab
 

Improving Gene Therapy to Fight Cancer, HIV and Genetic Diseases

The Kiem Lab studies cell and gene therapy with a particular interest in the biology of blood and marrow stem cells and the development and use of novel genome editing technologies. The overall goal is to improve stem cell transplantation and to develop effective cell and gene therapy treatments for patients with genetic and infectious diseases and cancer. The team’s clinical research focuses on using gene therapy to treat genetic and acquired diseases, including glioblastoma and HIV.

Kiem lab
 

Mechanisms and Novel Therapies Against AML and CML

The Oehler lab conducts laboratory and clinical research on the mechanisms of leukemia initiation, progression and therapy resistance. The team has generated and analyzed datasets from patient samples to identify genes and other cellular factors that might cause leukemia. The team has identified markers that predict progression to acute disease as well as indicators of patient prognosis. They also conduct clinical trials to test new agents in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), including myeloproliferative and myelodysplastic disorders.

Oehler lab

 

Advanced Therapeutics for Rare Pediatric Brain Cancers

The Olson lab identifies, prioritizes, and advances therapeutics into clinical trials for children with brain cancer. The team increasingly focuses on types of brain tumors that are uncommon and have the greatest need for translational research. Olson’s lab integrates cutting edge genomics, advanced mouse models of human-derived tumors, functional genomic analyses, and a truly novel approach to advancing effective drug combinations. Their goal is to increase the cure rate for children with these rare brain cancers by at least 10%.

Olson lab
 

Immune Cell Mechanisms Behind Lung Metastasis

The Headley lab seeks to understand how dynamic interactions in individual cells influence disease. The group is currently researching how immune system cells participate in the process of lung metastasis of cancer, where tumor cells spread to the lung. Different types of cells play opposing roles in the process. The team uses cutting edge methods such as intravital lung microscopy and single cell RNAseq to understand the dynamic interactions in the body that underlie this complex biology.

Headley lab
 

Project Violet: Therapies Based on Nature

Project Violet is an initiative that uses small protective molecules found in nature to combat rare forms of brain cancer that affect children. One successful application is tumor paint, a molecule derived from scorpion venom that adheres to tumors, causing them to glow. This has enabled more successful surgery, with fewer side effects.

Project Violet
 

Analyzing Proteins to Identify Novel Therapeutics

The Paulovich lab works to develop technologies and strategies for translating novel diagnostics from the laboratory into the clinical setting. As part of this effort, the team has pioneered methods for analyzing proteins, a technique that has been lacking in biomedical research. The ultimate goal is to use this technology to understand the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair and to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Paulovich lab
 

Connections Between Blood Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases

The Shadman Group studies the epidemiology of blood cancer as well as the associations between blood cancers and autoimmune disorders, including allergies and asthma. Using VITAL cohort data as the basis of their analysis, the team was among the first to identify a connection between blood cancers and autoimmune disease.

Shadman lab
 

Screening Small Molecules for Therapeutic Applications

The Simon lab develops small molecules to serve as probes for a variety of cellular processes as well as as potential therapeutic agents. The team applies an interdisciplinary approach, ranging from chemical synthesis and medicinal chemistry to genetics and cell biology. The compounds they study come from large collections of synthetic, drug-like compounds and natural sources. The team also seeks to understand the biology and pharmacology of promising compounds, improving upon their activity by chemical synthesis of analogs.

Simon lab
 

Disease Severity in Older Adults with AML

The Stirewalt lab seeks to understand why acute myeloid leukemia, one of the most common and deadly forms of leukemia, is more serious in older adults compared to their younger counterparts. To answer this question, the group is examining the molecular mechanisms that govern how aging changes the biology of blood cancer in older adults. They are also using statistical methods to model genetic changes in normal blood cells and cancerous ones.

Stirewalt lab
 

Innovative Therapies Against AML

The Walter lab investigates the molecular origin of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells as well as the interaction between AML cells and the environment. Their ultimate goal is the development of targeted treatments aimed at AML cells. The team also participates in clinical trials of novel drugs and innovative care approaches in patients with AML. Finally, they participate in collaborative projects utilizing large datasets that aim to improve diagnostic and prognostic tools in AML or, together with epidemiologists, study risk factors for developing this type of cancer.

Walter lab

Biomarkers and Early Detection

The Division prioritizes examining molecular markers for cancer progression or prognosis. These markers can also help in early detection, enabling patients to get treated before their cancer can progress. Understanding markers of progression and prognosis helps clinicians and patients make accurate, evidence-based treatment decisions.
 

Gastrointestinal Cancers Microbiome

The Dey lab studies how the gut microbiome influences physiology and pathophysiology in health and disease. The team’s overarching aim is to prevent gastrointestinal cancers and to alleviate treatment-related burdens of many of their patients.

Dey lab
 

Gastrointestinal Cancer Research

The Grady lab works on genomic and epigenomic alterations in gastrointestinal carcinogenesis, specifically esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and colorectal cancer (CRC). Projects involve the study of mechanisms that affect cancer risk, and the development of biomarkers, to aid in treatment and early diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers and cancer precursors. A long-standing goal of the lab is development of a non-invasive strategy for colon cancer detection, encouraging more patients to seek preventative care. With this goal in mind, the Grady Lab is heavily invested in studying the molecular pathogenesis of gastrointestinal cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus (BE) for more informative diagnosis and development of active methods to decrease cancer risks.

Grady lab
 

Researching Pancreatic Cancer

The Hingorani laboratory investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive the pathogenesis of pancreas cancer. The inability to detect the disease early together with multiple mechanisms of chemical and radiotherapeutic resistance contribute to the extreme lethality of PDA. The team’s goal is to identify the most compelling strategies to translate to the clinic in order to cure this disease.

Hingorani lab
 

Innate Immunity

The Rongvaux Lab studies innate immunity in humans and in mice. The innate immune response represents the first step in developing a protective response after exposure to a pathogen, stress or injury. But dysregulation of this response can contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases or to the progression of cancer. The lab studies how dying cells interact with the immune system and affect the outcome of the immune response, and how macrophages contribute to the tumor microenvironment and affect tumor development.

Rongvaux lab

Designing Synthetic Materials for Cancer Care

The Stephan lab works at the interface of materials science and immunology, designing synthetic materials that can be used as components of novel cancer therapies that selectively modulate the immune system. The team’s long-term goal is to make cancer immunotherapy more widely accessible and successful by creating off-the-shelf reagents that can rapidly boost the body's natural ability to fight cancer, moving synthetic immunomodulatory materials into routine clinical practice and shifting the treatment focus from broadly toxic chemotherapy and radical surgery to tumor-specific immunotherapies.

Stephan lab
 

Antitumor Immune Responses

The Warren Lab studies human antitumor immune responses at the cellular and molecular level in order to learn how these immune responses can be exploited to treat human cancer.

Warren lab
 

Molecular Genetics of Leukemia

The Radich Lab studies the molecular genetics of response, progression, and relapse in human leukemia. Research topics include the detection of minimal residual disease, dissecting the role of signal transduction abnormalities in leukemia, and constructing gene expression profiles of response and progression.

Radich lab

Treatment Complications and Survivorship

Despite our advances in cancer treatment and care, many therapies remain toxic and have side-effects that can last for years after treatment. This includes graft-versus-host disease as well as muscle weakness, heart problems, and mental and emotional issues. Division researchers maintain a program of robust scientific inquiry into the long-term consequences of cancer treatment, with the goal of eliminating severe side-effects and symptoms.
 

Biobehavioral Sciences

The Biobehavioral Sciences program at Fred Hutch aims to understand and reduce the biobehavioral and mental health impacts of cancer treatment over time. Working with physicians and clinical researchers throughout the US, the team conduct large-scale studies to identify and reduce these symptoms in patients from treatment through survivorship.

Biobehavioral Sciences

Preventing Graft-versus Host Disease

The Lee lab focuses on hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients and eliminating chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). The team heads the the Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease Consortium within the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, and Fred Hutch serves as the coordinating center.

Lee lab

Pediatric Oncology

Clinical Research Division doctors and scientists strive to improve our understanding of pediatric cancer, so we can treat and prevent cancer in children. Our researchers and clinician scientists treat patients and conduct clinical trials at our partner patient care organization, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
 

Solid Tumor Specialties

Fred Hutch established our reputation as an outstanding cancer research institute for our early innovations in treating blood cancer with revolutionary therapeutic techniques. For the past two decades we have been building an equally robust program to understand and investigate solid tumors.

Our partner clinical care organizations University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Seattle Children’s Hospital maintain some of the best treatment outcomes in the world, thanks to our innovations in care for people with solid tumor cancer. Our specialists include researchers and clinicians treating and studying prostate, lung, breast, pancreatic, intestinal, skin and head and neck cancers, among others. We continually improve our understanding of disease progression and develop safer, more effective treatments that we advance to our patients through translational medicine.

Clinical Biostatistics

The statisticians in the Clinical Biostatistics program design and analyze data from the experiments that drive the clinical research in our division. The biostatisticians collaborate extensively with the clinical investigators to lead the design, analysis, and interpretation of results from studies to obtain the most accurate, evidence-based scientific conclusions to best inform patient treatment and care.