This past year has been an exceptional one at Fred Hutch. It began with a period of transition as we conducted an international search for our next president and director. While the search was ongoing, Dr. Mark Groudine agreed to serve as our interim president. My fellow trustees and I are grateful to Mark for his leadership at the same time as he was busy working on grants for his own research as well as serving on the search committee itself. Special thanks are also in order for Dr. Fred Appelbaum and Myra Tanita. They, along with the rest of the executive team, ensured that we didn't miss a beat during this interim period. Indeed, our major core grant — from the National Cancer Institute — was reauthorized under their collective leadership.
I also want to recognize Myra, who has been our chief operating officer. She will be retiring later this year after 26 years at Fred Hutch. She has been part of the heart and soul of the institution and, on behalf of the trustees, I thank her for her innumerable contributions.
The biggest news occurred in November, when we welcomed Dr. D. Gary Gilliland as the Hutch’s new president and director. Gary brings incomparable skills as a cancer researcher and a practicing physician. He is an extraordinary investigator whose breakthrough research has contributed significantly to the understanding of hematological cancers, in particular. Gary shares our commitment to exceptional science and demonstrates daily his compassion for patients and families. From our earliest conversations with Gary, he commented that coming to Fred Hutch would be like "coming home." We couldn’t agree more. We are privileged to have him lead our institution in the years ahead.
Gary's official arrival in January coincided with the start of Fred Hutch’s 40th anniversary year. This wonderful milestone has given us numerous opportunities to celebrate our remarkable history. Starting with Dr. E. Donnall Thomas’ development of bone marrow transplantation as a cure for bloodborne cancers, our scientists have made discoveries that have changed the world and saved countless lives. And they’re just getting started.
Under Gary's leadership, Fred Hutch will continue to build on this legacy. Gary's vision for Fred Hutch is ambitious and far-reaching. He is committed to extending the Hutch's work in the area of immunotherapy to a broad spectrum of cancers. His previous work in this area as well as in precision medicine is at the forefront of science today. I believe you will be as excited as we are to hear more about his plans. His letter in this report is a wonderful articulation in his own words of his thoughts about this organization and maintaining our edge as a world-class scientific leader.
In addition to impressive progress in research and care, we received an unprecedented level of private contributions from a growing community of dedicated supporters this year. We have also seen how our careful approach to commercializing Hutch intellectual property is bearing fruit. In particular, in December, the company Juno Therapeutics was listed on Nasdaq. Based largely on the work of Drs. Stan Riddell and Phil Greenberg of Fred Hutch, Juno is working in the area of reprogramming patients' T cells to fight cancers. It is the board's intention to deploy various proceeds from Juno to further the Hutch’s research agenda. While having this additional financial flexibility is helpful, we have not lost sight of what the real prize is — namely, that therapies developed at Fred Hutch will beat cancer once and for all.
The board of trustees continues to evolve. Rick Koffey has completed his term as a trustee and our former Washington governor, Christine Gregoire, has stepped up as the vice chair of the board. In addition, two new trustees have been elected: Paul Reed and Stephen Zaruby. We are grateful to these individuals and indeed to all the trustees who have devoted countless volunteer hours governing an organization as complex as Fred Hutch.
These are extraordinary times in cancer research and treatment. The trustees and I have never been more optimistic about the future. Thank you for your support once again this year. With your continued help, our vision — that Cures Start Here — will only grow more vibrant in the times ahead.
Board of Trustees Chair