Dr. Elizabeth Prescott, chief of staff for the Fred Hutch Director’s Office, facilitates information flow and decision-making through collaboration with both administrative and scientific partners throughout the Hutch. She also participates in the development of strategies and processes to advance key initiatives.
Working in support of scientific research at Fred Hutch “is the perfect gig,” said Prescott, a former scientist who first came to the Hutch in 2008 to work on the Philanthropy Department’s Foundation Relations team. “I get a bird’s eye view of many new discoveries every day, while also working with brilliant and dedicated scientists and administrators to create the best possible environment to enable those discoveries.”
Prior to starting this role in January 2022, Prescott was the executive director of institutional giving in Fred Hutch Philanthropy. As a fundraiser, she collaborated closely with scientific and administrative partners, and she led the development of significant new programmatic activities to facilitate access to and reporting of philanthropic grants at the Hutch. During much of 2020, Prescott was also chief of staff for the Hutch’s COVID-19 research programs, supporting the launch of several key operational and fundraising initiatives.
Prescott transitioned into a career in support of science following postdoctoral research in cellular neuroscience and a Ph.D. in cell biology from University of California, San Francisco. She’s been in love with science since high school.
“It was on a field trip to a research laboratory at a biotech company in the vicinity, and I was thunderstruck,” Prescott said. “I think the idea that one could spend an entire career working to understand the natural world — and never run out discoveries — was too compelling a trajectory to pass up.”
Her love for science became deeply personal, however, when she was diagnosed with colon cancer early in her time at the Hutch, soon after becoming a mother.
“My passion for disease-focused research caught up to my love of basic science. Becoming a cancer patient — and one with an inherited cancer syndrome — helped me to appreciate the vast and fascinating biological landscape that a tumor and its host occupy,” she said. “It also drove home, in a very personal way, that the impacts of disease ripple through entire families and communities.”
Prescott said that she sees Fred Hutch as a place where that dual commitment — to both the excitement of discovery and to saving lives — is woven into the fabric of the institution.
“We each have a story like this one in our histories — how can we not be inspired to come in to work every day to intervene?”