Human Biology Division - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Human Biology Division

Image: Human Biology laboratory

Integrating fundamental, applied and translational scientists to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer and other diseases.

Human Biology researchers come together to form a multidisciplinary team that is influenced by individual advances. Their diverse expertise include molecular and cell biology, genomics, genetics, virology, infectious disease, computational biology, pathology and clinical research. Grounded in high-quality basic science, the research performed in Human Biology blends fundamental, applied, and translational research performed in model organisms and in vitro systems.


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Dr. Eric Holland discusses the difficulties of treating brain cancer, such as glioblastomas, following Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Holland is hopeful that his work in precision oncology can lay the groundwork for better treatments for glioblastomas.
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Drs. Nina Salama and Michael Emerman have been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology among 78 microbiologists this year.
Read more about their achievements  >
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Six researchers from Fred Hutchinson, including Dr. Denise Galloway, are pioneering researchers who have laid the groundwork for others.
Read their advice to the next generation  >
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For precision medicine to be effective for cancer treatment, molecular aberrations in cancers of the same histological classification should be distinct between patients. A new study from Dr. Pete Nelson’s lab led by Ilsa Coleman in the Nelson lab and Akash Kumar in Dr. Jay Shendure’s Lab suggest that at least for prostate cancer, different tumors from the same patient harbor limited molecular heterogeneity.
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Approximately half of the world’s population is infected with the gastric bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). A new Fred Hutch study led by Dr. Sarah Talarico, an associate in Dr. Nina Salama’s Lab, has developed a non-invasive stool-based method for genotyping H. pylori which will be beneficial to asymptomatic individuals.
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Together Fred Hutch, UW Medicine and SCCA are working to develop the most precise treatment options for patients with solid tumor cancers. The primary goal is to translate laboratory sciences into the most precise treatment options for patients with solid tumor cancers.
Learn more about STTR >
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Directly identifying cancer-specific vulnerabilities requires genetic manipulation of genes in patient-derived samples. The emergence of CRISPR, a gene editing technology, has made this task possible. A Fred Hutch study led by Drs. Chad Toledo and Yu Ding in the Paddison Lab, in collaboration with the Olson and Clurman Labs, has leveraged the CRISPR technology to perform genome-wide screens.
Read more >
Highlight 8
There is evidence that has demonstrated that a large proportion of HIV mother-to-child transmission occurs during breastfeeding. Infants are usually infected with a single virus variant, one that is in general more resistant to neutralization than other maternal virus variants. Therefore, it is possible that maternal transmission risk correlates with a higher frequency of neutralization-resistant viruses. Caitlin Milligan from Dr. Julie Overbaugh’s Lab work to test this hypothesis.
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Antibodies are known to protect from infection either by directly neutralizing the virus or by targeting infected cells for destruction via antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). A new study published in the journal EBioMedicine and led by Dr. Katherine Williams in the Overbaugh Lab, leveraged a new method to isolate memory B cells from an HIV-infected individual to identify three antibodies that exhibited ADCC activity.
Highlight 10
It is clear that microbial cell community’s diversity can affect health and disease. Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium, infection is much lower in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) for unknown reasons. In a new study, Dr. Nina Salama’s lab recently collaborated with Dr. Brian Reid’s lab, led by graduate student Tina Gall and worked to characterize the human microbiome in the upper GI tract.
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Dr. Andrew Hsieh, presenting his research at a recent Fast Pitch event
at Fred Hutch.

Faculty & Labs

Recruitment Opportunities

Find open faculty positions in Human Biology.