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Spotlight on Fred Appelbaum

Leadership for Scientific Discovery

Fred Appelbaum, Executive Vice President and Deputy Director

Dr. Frederick R. Appelbaum is a world expert in the research and treatment of blood cancers. Prior to his appointment as executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in September 2013, for two decades he served as senior vice president and director of the Clinical Research Division at the Hutch.

As deputy director Appelbaum leads Fred Hutch’s strategic research partnerships with the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. He also represents the institution to the world at large, developing community relationships and programs needed to sustain the Hutch’s continued growth and impact.

Dr. Fred Appelbaum speaks during the Hansen Symposium in the Pelton Auditorium at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington on July 13, 2018.
Dr. Fred Appelbaum speaks during the Hansen Symposium in the Pelton Auditorium at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington on July 13, 2018. Robert Hood / Fred Hutch
Maintaining the fiscal health of Fred Hutch

Another major focus of Appelbaum’s role is maintaining the fiscal health of Fred Hutch through sustained federal funding and other revenue sources, including philanthropy and technology transfer.

One such example is working with the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute to secure continuous renewal of the Cancer Center Support Grant, which funds the infrastructure of the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, one of 50 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers nationwide. Other activities involve the interaction of the Hutch with its partners in support of joint initiatives.

Appelbaum’s responsibilities also include ensuring that the Hutch’s clinical research advances are effectively shared with the medical community, particularly in the area of cutting-edge cancer diagnostic tools that help inform the best treatment based on the genetic and molecular characteristics of cancer.

Appelbaum served as president of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch's clinical care partner, from 1998 until December 2016.

He is also former head of the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a position he held for 15 years.

A leader in the research and treatment of leukemia and other blood cancers

Appelbaum’s research focuses on the biology and treatment of leukemias, lymphomas and other blood cancers. He was the lead author of the first paper to describe the successful use of autologous bone marrow transplantation, a therapy now used in more than 30,000 patients annually. He was also a key contributor to the discovery and development of gemtuzumab ozogamicin, known commercially as Mylotarg, the first monoclonal antibody approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

Appelbaum joined the faculties at Fred Hutch and UW in 1978 after receiving his medical oncology fellowship training at the National Cancer Institute. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College (cum laude) and Tufts University School of Medicine, and he completed his internal medicine training at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

"We'll be able to tell from a drop of blood who has early cancer or is at risk for cancer," he said. "We'll remove it at an initial stage or vaccinate against its return..."

At the Hutch, Appelbaum led the trials that defined the role of transplantation in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplasia and malignant lymphoma. He continues to study the biology of AML and mechanisms of drug resistance.

Beyond his own research, Appelbaum has been a national leader in the conduct of clinical trials. In 1980, as part of SWOG Cancer Research Network, he formed the first multicenter bone marrow transplant clinical trials group. This concept eventually evolved into the federally funded Bone Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network, which he has chaired. For more than 20 years Appelbaum served as chair of the SWOG Leukemia Committee, which designs and conducts clinical trials for leukemia.

Appelbaum is past chair of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and has served on the boards of a number of scientific societies. He has also served on the NCI Leukemia Steering Committee and on the advisory committees of many organizations.

He holds the Metcalfe Family/Frederick Appelbaum Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at Fred Hutch. Other honors and awards include election to the Institute of Medicine and Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, the ASCO Statesman Award and the ASBMT’s E.D. Thomas Lecture and Award.


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