UCI / Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance

Global Oncology

UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance

UCI/Huthcinson Center Cancer Alliance

The Alliance supports the development of a strong biomedical infrastructure in Uganda to contribute to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and related health concerns.

Focused on cutting-edge research, training and clinical care

Operating locally as Hutchinson Centre Research Institute in Uganda (HCRI-UG), Fred Hutch has been a committed partner to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) since 2004.  Our collaboration with UCI began when Fred Hutch, began working with Ugandan colleagues on research into HIV-associated malignancies.

Our collaboration resulted in a formal partnership known as the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance (UCI/HCCA), which is co-directed by Dr. Jackson Orem, UCI's Director. 

The partnership has led to the first comprehensive cancer center jointly built by U.S. and African Cancer institutions in the sub-Saharan Africa — UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre opened May  2015.   The facility is funded in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development, American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program.  

The partnership supports the development of a strong biomedical infrastructure in Uganda to contribute to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and related health concerns.  Our strategic investment has helped the UCI grow from a small facility with limited resources to a state-of-the-art regional cancer center capable of training the next generation of oncologists and creating an environment to conduct research that will have impact worldwide.


UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre

The 25,000 square foot facility includes:

  • research laboratories, molecular diagnostics labs and a specimen repository
  • a training center, library and data center
  • an outpatient clinic that will accommodate 20,000 outpatient visits a year

Research Overview

Microscopic image of kaposi sarcoma

Kaposi's sarcoma in the lung of a patient with AIDS.

Photo by CDC/Dr. Edwin P Ewing, Jr.

We focus our research on understanding the biology of infection-related cancers with the goal  of improving prevention and treatment  in low-resource settings.  Our researchers are currently engaged in 30 studies and six pending studies that investigate five types of cancer (Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphomas, including Burkitt lymphoma, cervical cancer, breast cancer and Hodgkin lymphomas) and four viruses (HIV, human herpes and simplex viruses and Epstein-Barr virus).  

To date, more than 7,000 Ugandans have participated in our studies. One of these studies resulted in a new blood test to diagnose Epstein-Barr infection and determine whether patients are at higher risk of lymphoma as a result of that infection.  

Our specimen repository in Uganda contains more than 100,000 biologic specimens for research. We also work to build multidisciplinary research teams of African physicians, clinical researchers, basic research scientists, epidemiologists, pathologists and support staff. 


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Training Focus

At Fred Hutch, Drs. Julie Gralow and Amos Mwaka, from Uganda, review a patients chart in the cancer clinic

Drs. Julie Gralow and Amos Mwaka review a patients chart.

Photo by Fred Hutch

Our training program aims to cultivate the next generation of Ugandan oncologists and infectious-disease researchers.  Over the past decade, we have provided cancer-related training to more than 300 Ugandan scientists and 50 Ugandan doctors, including 8 oncologists who have received training at Fred Hutch.

With support from National Institutes of Health training grants, we train Ugandans in multiple disciplines that are critical to conducting cancer research and providing standardized, safe and effective cancer care.  These include oncology, nursing, data management and fiscal management.

We have also recruited physicians and researchers from high-income countries to train, practice and conduct research at the UCI, with the goal of increasing their knowledge of infection-related cancers and how to provide cancer care in low-resource settings. 

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Clinical Care

Freda Wabwire, nurse at Uganda Cancer Institute, caring for 8-year-old Noeline Nakato

Noeline Nakato, 8, who is suffering from a cancer of the intestine, is given treatment by nurse Freda Wabwire while her mother Aisha Nabukeera looks on.

Photo by Jacqueline Koch

Our clinical care efforts in Uganda focus on continuous improvement of prevention and treatment of infection-related cancers.  The collaboration between Fred Hutch and UCI is generating new models for cancer care and research in resource-limited settings.   The new UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre will serve as many as 20,000 patients from a five-country region.

Clinical care will be improved through the addition of chemistry/hematology, histology, immunology, bio-safety level2+ and molecular diagnostics labs and more effective and timely tracking of patients. The use of resource-appropriate guidelines for clinical care and clinical trials will also lead to better outcomes for patients.

Our clinical initiatives include the Burkitt Lymphoma Project, which addresses the leading cause of pediatric cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Our comprehensive approach to addressing this cancer, which is caused by Epstein-Barr virus, includes improved case management, better diagnostic techniques, access to medication and assistance with transportation and nutritional needs. The vast majority of affected children can be treated for less than US$2,000. 

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Our Achievements

Accomplishments since 2004:

  • The first detailed description of acquisition of viral oncogens (EBV, HHV-8, HBV) in children, which yielded insight into the immunology and virology of primary infection.
  • Prospective cohort studies outlined in some of the factors which govern progression from asymptomatic infection to cancer.
  • Extensive characterization of the contribution of HIV infection to the development of and survival with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Evaluation of differential clinical manifestations/natural history of cancer in resource-limited settings.
  • Policy guidance on building capacity for cancer care and management in Africa.

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