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The president and director becomes the ninth Fred Hutch faculty member inducted into the NAM, one of the highest honors in health and medicine
Dr. Gary Gilliland
Dr. Gary Gilliland is among nine Fred Hutch faculty who have been elected into the National Academy of Medicine. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was just elected to the National Academy of Medicine, or NAM, one of the highest honors to be had in health and medicine.

An expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine, Gilliland was among 70 new members and 10 foreign associates announced Monday during the 45th annual meeting of the NAM in Washington, D.C.

“I am deeply honored to have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine,” said Gilliland. “I’m only one of many at the Hutch who have been honored with membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine,” he said, pointing to Dr. Sue Biggins’ induction into the NAS earlier this year as well as Dr. Fred Appelbaum’s induction into NAM in 2013.

In all, nine Fred Hutch researchers been inducted into the NAS and Gilliland is the ninth Fred Hutch researcher elected to the NAM (previously named the Institute of Medicine). 

“Collectively, the Hutch has had a major contribution to leadership in science and medicine in our 40 years, a legacy that we will continue to build on,” Gilliland said.

“We are at a critical inflection point in science and medicine, where we have the capability to develop curative therapies for so many diseases that inflict humankind, including cancer. And yet we are at a juncture where there are significant resource constraints at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] and other funding agencies in supporting this transformational work.

“I look forward to serving the National Academy of Medicine to address these critical issues and opportunities in health care and medicine," he said.  

A background in patient care and precision medicine

Gilliland, who took the helm at Fred Hutch in January 2015, holds doctorates in microbiology and medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he was also chief medical resident, and his hematology and medical oncology training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.

He spent 20 years on the faculty at Harvard University, where he was professor of medicine and professor of stem cell and regenerative biology. He was also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the director of the leukemia program at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and has earned numerous honors for his work. The bulk of his initial research at Harvard focused on the genetic basis of blood cancers.

In 2009, Gilliland left Harvard to serve as senior vice president and head of global oncology at Merck Research Laboratories. In 2013, he returned to academia when he became the vice dean and vice president of precision medicine at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

There, he worked to bring together research and clinical care initiatives across disciplines to create a model for delivering personalized medicine to patients with a range of diseases.

At Fred Hutch, he hopes to leverage the center’s scientific breakthroughs into less harmful treatments as well as out-and-out cures for cancer patients.

“This is the perfect time and perfect place to develop curative approaches for cancer,” he said.

‘A highly influential position’

Hutch Executive Vice President and Deputy Director Dr. Fred Appelbaum, who was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in 2013, said it is “one of the highest honors bestowed on individuals working in the fields of health and medicine.”

“Gary, of course, is richly deserving and his election is further evidence of his excellence and the general excellence of our scientific faculty,” Appelbaum said.  “Election to the NAM comes with a commitment to serve on NAM committees, which are highly influential in a broad range of health policy issues.“

The NAM currently has more than 2,000 members, each elected in recognition of their professional achievements in medicine and health and their continued involvement with issues of health care, disease prevention, education or research.

In addition to Appelbaumn and Gilliland, other Fred Hutch NAM members include the late Dr. Maureen Henderson, as well as Drs. Ross Prentice; Mark Groudine; Linda Buck; Larry Corey; Eric Holland and Thomas Fleming.  In addition to Biggins, Fred Hutch NAS members include the late Drs. E. Donnall Thomas and Harold Weintraub as well as Drs. Lee Hartwell, Bob Eisenman; Mark Groudine; Linda Buck; Steve Henikoff and Dan Gottschling.

For more information on major awards and honors bestowed on Fred Hutch researchers, click here.

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