Good News at Fred Hutch

Dr. Jean Sanders named volunteer of the year; Desert Horse-Grant a 'woman to watch in life science'; study by Dr. Jihong Bai sheds new light on how neurons communicate; Hutch design team wins five awards
Dr. Jean Sanders
Dr. Jean Sanders (seated) with friend Jennifer Aspelund (left), the mother of one of Sanders' former transplant patients; and Karen and Jamie Moyer, the founders of The Moyer Foundation, at Tuesday's luncheon. By Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Jean Sanders named 2015 Rosi Palmer Volunteer of the Year by The Moyer Foundation

On May 19, pediatric bone marrow transplant pioneer Dr. Jean Sanders was honored with the 2015 Rosi Palmer Volunteer of the Year Award at The Moyer Foundation’s annual Champions for Children Luncheon.

Sanders, who retired from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's active faculty in 2012, had a 37-year career in pediatric transplant research and patient care, and her work shaped the treatment of childhood transplant patients around the world.

Sanders is also an expert quilter, and she has made 40 quilts over the past two years for children attending the foundation’s Camp Mariposa in Washington state. This free, overnight weekend camp serves children affected by substance-use disorders in their family.

Sanders said that by volunteering with The Moyer Foundation, she’s been able to continue aiding children in need even after her retirement.

“I looked for other ways to continue to be able to help children and found that I very much appreciated the mission of The Moyer Foundation to provide comfort, hope and healing to children affected by loss and family addiction,” said Sanders, an emeritus member of Fred Hutch's Clinical Research Division.

At the Champions for Children Luncheon, former Seattle Seahawk and current KIRO-TV news anchor Steve Raible introduced Sanders, who said she was "deeply honored" be be selected for the award.

“We are all very fortunate to have such an amazing woman in our midst as Dr. Jean Sanders,” Raible said in his remarks. He cited Sanders’ long list of achievements in the pediatric transplant field and her impact as a physician on many close to the Moyer family.

Sanders has been quilting for years; even while director of pediatric transplant at Fred Hutch she made baby quilts for the children of staff members.

“Making these quilts for The Moyer Foundation was wonderful and fun for me to do and very satisfying, as these quilts are going to an excellent cause to be enjoyed by children in need,” she said.

STTR’s Desert Horse-Grant named a ‘woman to watch in life science’

Desert Horse-Grant, director of strategic planning and operations for Solid Tumor Translational Research, or STTR, at Fred Hutch, is among four “2015 Women to Watch in Life Science Award” honorees selected by the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association.

Desert Horse-Grant
Desert Horse-Grant is the director of strategic planning and operations for Solid Tumor Translational Research at Fred Hutch. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

She will receive the honor July 1 at WBBA’s annual Life Science Innovation Northwest conference at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Horse-Grant’s multifaceted role in STTR, which includes more than 400 faculty spanning oncology research efforts at Fred Hutch, University of Washington and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, includes enhancing scientific collaboration, eliminating research barriers, raising funds for innovative research, facilitating the banking of research biospecimens, and identifying and facilitating new research that is translatable to patients within five years.

She is highly knowledgeable of scientific fields that include basic science, cancer biology and informatics, translational research infrastructure, bench-to-bedside medicine, and population and clinical trials research.

Horse-Grant joined Fred Hutch in the summer of 2013 after spending 13 years in administration at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

A complete list of this year’s “Women to Watch” honorees can be found here

Study shapes new paradigm for how neurons recycle signaling organelles

Neurons communicate with other cells by secreting chemical signals, or neurotransmitters, which are packaged into membranous sacs called vesicles. After the vesicles fuse with cell membranes and neurotransmitters diffuse across a cellular gap known as a synapse, neurons must recycle vesicles via the process of endocytosis. Now, a study led by Fred Hutch neurobiologist Dr. Jihong Bai, published April 28 in the journal eLife, has uncovered how two key protein players work together to support endocytosis.

Dr. Jihong Bai
Dr. Jihong Bai is a neurobiologist at Fred Hutch. Fred Hutch file

The endocytic regulators, known as synaptojanin and endophilin, help recycle membranes during neuronal transmission. Vertebrate animals like mice can’t live without either of these proteins — synapses won’t work and even basic functions like breathing are impaired — but it’s not clear how synaptojanin and endophilin operate inside neurons. Looking at the microscopic roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, Bai and his team made surprising discoveries that revise the prevailing model in the field. Previously, it was thought that these two proteins must physically bind to each other in order to be active for membrane recycling at synapses. However, Bai’s team found that disruption of synaptojanin–endophilin interactions have little impact on endocytosis. Instead, membranes are likely to serve as an essential link between synaptojanin and endophilin.

Their results are important not only for understanding the basic biology of synapses, Bai said, but may have therapeutic implications for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, membrane remodeling may offer important insights into cancer biology, as cancer cells often have altered levels of membrane receptors that are controlled by similar endocytic processes. Although it’s too early to say whether drugs targeting synaptojanin or endophilin could be beneficial against cancer or neuronal disorders, the study’s results point to key interactions that future drug discovery researchers may want to home in on. 

Design & UX team at Fred Hutch
The Fred Hutch Design and User Experience team in the Communications and Marketing Department. Photo by Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch News Service

Fred Hutch's Design and User Experience team wins five awards for creativity

Online and print materials produced by Fred Hutch's Design and User Experience Team have won four Hermes Creative Awards, which recognize outstanding design in traditional and emerging media:

  • A platinum award for Quest magazine's Summer 2014 issue (to graphic designers Kim Carney, Victoria Comfort and Kim Westphal)
  • A gold award for website redesign (to Web producer Susan Edmonds and senior graphic designer Kim Westphal)
  • A gold award for a Fred Hutch trifold brochure (to the above-mentioned graphic designers and web producers Susan Edmonds, Jeremy Fisher and Heather Marsh)
  • An honorable mention for the 2014 Hutch Holiday Gala invitation (to graphic designers Westphal and Carney)

“The talent and productivity of this tiny team is impressive,” said Celeste Bernard, director of Design and User Experience within the Communications and Marketing Department. “And we feel very fortunate to support such an amazing organization.”

The Hermes Awards is an international competition for creative professionals and is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. This year's competition included about 6,000 entries from throughout the U.S. and more than 20 other nations.

The team also won a Visix Expression Award for "Best Screen Design" for the digital signs displayed around the Fred Hutch campus, which were designed by Westphal. That award included a GoPro HERO3+ Silver edition camera, which is available for anyone on campus to borrow, Bernard said.

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