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Science without borders

At Fred Hutch and other U.S. research centers, a global village works to cure cancer and other diseases

Oct. 16, 2017 | By Mary Engel / Fred Hutch Research Center

Photo animation of scientists from around the world who work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Fred Hutch, like other major U.S. research centers, attracts top scientists from around the world.

Animation by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a campus of immigrants.

Like other major medical research centers in the United States, Fred Hutch attracts talented scientists from around the world. It always has.

Dr. Rainer Storb, who worked side by side with pioneering bone marrow transplant researcher Dr. E. Donnall Thomas and has led Fred Hutch’s Transplantation Biology Program since 1980, emigrated from Germany in 1965.

Immunotherapy research, which is revolutionizing the way cancer is treated and cured by harnessing a patient’s own immune system to fight the disease, is being conducted by a virtual United Nations of scientists. Among them are Dr. Stanley Riddell (Canada); Dr. Aude Chapuis (Switzerland); and Drs. Marie Bleakley and Cameron Turtle (Australia).

Elsewhere on campus, epidemiologist Dr. Chu Chen (Taiwan) unravels the secrets of tobacco- and hormone-related head and neck cancers. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Boeckh (Germany) fights back infections in bone marrow transplant patients and others with weakened immune systems. Evolutionary geneticist Dr. Harmit Malik (India) gleans lessons from the evolutionary arms race between humans and viruses and is one of several Hutch scientists named a prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

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Dr. Paul Neiman, founding member of Fred Hutch, dies at 78

Physician-scientist led the charge in prioritizing fundamental research, built bridges between lab and clinic

Oct. 12, 2017 | By Rachel Tompa / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Paul Neiman

Dr. Paul Neiman

Fred Hutch file photo

Dr. Paul Neiman, a founding member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a transplant physician and cancer biologist, died Oct. 11 of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 78.

Neiman was also one of the founders and leaders of the Basic Sciences Division, one of the Hutch’s five scientific divisions, as well as the division that would later became the Human Biology Division. He served as director of Basic Sciences from 1983 to 1995. He retired from Fred Hutch in 2010, but he continued to work behind the scenes to secure new sources of funding for the Basic Sciences Division as well as writing monographs on the history of Fred Hutch and on biomedical research organizations. 

He was well known in the scientific community for his fundamental research on the interplay between viruses and cancer cells, making key discoveries about the nature of retroviruses, the type of virus that includes HIV.

But at the Hutch, he was perhaps better known for making connections and building bridges, said many of his colleagues.

“He loved to think about connections between people and which connections will work and make things happen,” said Dr. Robert Eisenman, a molecular biologist who was one of Neiman’s first recruits to join the newly formed Hutch, in an earlier interview. “If it weren’t for him, the face of the Hutch would be really different now.”

Eisenman’s colleague and a former postdoctoral fellow in Neiman’s lab, Fred Hutch virologist Dr. Maxine Linial, agreed. “I think there wouldn’t be a Hutch as a first-class research institute if it wasn’t for Paul Neiman,” she said in a 2015 interview with Fred Hutch News Service.

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Good News at Fred Hutch

Celebrating faculty and staff achievements

Oct. 12, 2017

Science Education Partnership teachers explore the contents of science kits for loan.

Science Education Partnership teachers explore the contents of science kits for loan this summer at the Hutch. From left to right: Deborah LaZerte, John F. Kennedy Memorial High School; Tara Maloney, Eastside Catholic School; Dawn Rubstello, Roosevelt High School; and Renee Agatsuma, Mount Rainier High School.

Photo by Caren Brinkema / Fred Hutch

NCI grants $2.4M to support Hutch science-education efforts 

A new, five-year grant awarded to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Jeanne Chowning and Dr. Beverly Torok-Storb will “plug the gaps,” as Chowning put it, between the Hutch’s existing science education programs.

The award, termed “Pathways to Cancer Research,” is part of a National Cancer Institute effort to increase career interest in cancer research, especially among underrepresented minority groups or other students who have larger than usual barriers to becoming scientists. That national effort fit perfectly with the Hutch’s own emphasis on nurturing the next generation of researchers and increasing diversity among scientists, Chowning said.

Currently, Torok-Storb leads the Summer High School Internship Program, or SHIP. Select SHIP alums return to serve as lead interns for the program. Last year, she also piloted the Clinical Scholars Program for SHIP alumns in partnership with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch’s clinical care partner.

Chowning directs the Science Education Partnership, or SEP, a training and mentoring program for middle- and high-school science teachers that also offers extensive resource support. Fred Hutch’s Drs. Julian Simon and Robert Bradley co-direct the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, or SURP. 

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'Pinktober': What Breast Cancer Awareness Month means to patients, care providers and others

Some see it as invaluable for education and advocacy while others, including male breast cancer patients, may feel left out

Oct. 12, 2017 | By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service

Crowd of pink

“Pinktober” has arrived and with it a bevy of walks, runs, rallies and other events to promote breast cancer awareness.

Photo by D.J. Peters / AP

Editor's note: In October 2014, we asked a few patients, researchers, caregivers and others to send us their thoughts regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We've made a few updates to share their thoughts with you again today.  

It’s October and the traditional fall colors are everywhere. We’re not talking about red and orange, but various shades of pink, the color of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or BCAM.

Founded in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical company now known as AstraZeneca (maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs), Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its accompanying pink ribbon are now synonymous with the month of October.

In fact, many people (including breast cancer survivors) refer to the month as “Pinktober,” some with affection, others with a dash (or more) of disdain.

The long-standing awareness campaign definitely means different things to different people. For some, it’s about celebrating strength and survival. For others, advocacy and a push to educate people about the realities of breast cancer, particularly metastatic disease. Researchers may think of the many donations that help to fund their invaluable work. Others are concerned about “pink profiteering.”

Curious what Breast Cancer Awareness Month means to those in the trenches with the disease, either fighting it, living with it, helping patients navigate it or tirelessly working towards its eradication? Read on:

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New insights into CAR T-cell therapy's potential side effects

Detailed study of cytokine release syndrome and neurologic toxicities could help make emerging cancer immunotherapies safer

Oct. 11, 2017 | By Fred Hutch staff

Dr. Cameron Turtle

Dr. Cameron Turtle and his colleagues led detailed studies of the potential side effects of a Fred Hutch-developed CAR T-cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy in which immune cells are engineered to target a patient's cancer.

Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Two new papers from teams at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center provide the most comprehensive data yet reported on side effects of the emerging cancer immunotherapy strategy known as CAR T-cell therapy.

Based on their data from 133 adult participants in one clinical trial, the researchers identified potential biomarkers associated with the development of the toxic effects, known as cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity. They also created algorithms aimed at identifying the rare patients whose symptoms were most likely to turn life-threatening.

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How techies in Washington state can help find cancer cures

The Hutch's Dr. Gary Gilliland speaks at GeekWire Summit highlighting innovations in the Northwest and beyond

Oct. 10, 2017 | By Susan Keown / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Gary Gilliland speaks at the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle

“Let’s be the state that’s known for working together to implement curative approaches to cancer,” Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland said today in a moderated talk at the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle.

GeekWire / Dan Delong

Ed. note: This story was updated on Oct. 11.

Washington state is known as the home for innovation in aviation and in coffee. But could it be known as the capital of cancer cures, too?

That’s the question — and the challenge — that Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland posed to hundreds of tech industry and business leaders today at the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle.

“Let’s be the state that’s known for working together to implement curative approaches to cancer,” Gilliland said in a moderated talk with GeekWire journalists Alan Boyle and Clare McGrane.

The annual two-day summit is a mecca for the heavy hitters and up-and-comers in innovation and business from the Northwest and around the world. The focus: what’s coming next in the fast-changing world of tech. Featured speakers include Microsoft CEO (and Fred Hutch board of trustees member) Satya Nadella,  Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, tech entrepreneurs, investors and top researchers in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to cancer.

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