Lynch, who holds the Raisbeck Endowed Chair, said the most important challenge facing cancer centers in the U.S. is to increase the stream of funding, from all sources. He said it is particularly important for the Hutch to continue to invest in fundamental research to understand the complexity of tumors and why they differ so much.
“Remember, the vast majority of advanced cancers are still not cured,” he said. “And that problem is not an engineering problem. It’s an ideas problem. We need to continue to invest in basic science to be able to drive ideas that give us new opportunities to improve cures.
“You want to give creative scientists more room to breathe and more room to pursue pathways they think are important,” Lynch said.
That approach appealed to Dr. Sue Biggins, who is senior vice president and director of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch.
“It helps to have a leader who appreciates what fundamental discoveries have done for medicine. Tom can make that link,” she said. “He’s clearly good at relationship building, but also understands there is still a place for individuals. He seems to really enable people and has a long track record of hearing everyone’s voice.”
After leading the Yale Cancer Center for six years, Lynch returned to Boston to be chairman and chief executive of the Mass General Physicians Organization, the largest multi-specialty medical group in New England.
Lynch said he hopes to bring people together to form teams and build consensus. “It’s important for people to work together, break down silos, break down barriers between groups,” he said. “It is something I constantly worked on, trying to get people to share information, share approaches.”
The move to Seattle began a new adventure for Lynch and his wife, Laura Pappano, whom he met while they were undergraduates at Yale. Pappano is an award-winning journalist and author, and board chair of the renowned Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven.
This is their first time living on the West Coast. They bring to Seattle their love of theater, the outdoors, tennis playing, professional sports and the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Competitive zeal, energy and passion for excellence defined Lynch’s approach to medicine since he was a child watching his dad treat patients, and those attributes drew him to Seattle.
“I think the idea that “Cures Start Here” is much more meaningful to me than a tagline on our buildings. I think it is the reason people come to Fred Hutch,” he said.