Puget Sound Business Journal has named Dr. Garnet Anderson, senior vice president and director of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, among its 2015 Women of Influence. She is among 15 honorees who will receive recognition at an award ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue on Nov. 18.
The Women of Influence Awards, now in its 12th year, shines a spotlight on local businesswomen, community leaders and philanthropists who, according to the business journal, are a force in the region and “have the power and authority to move the needle” in their field.
Anderson’s work has had a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of women worldwide.
She co-led the nationwide Women’s Health Initiative study that in 2002 found that combined hormone-replacement therapy, or HRT, for menopausal symptoms was not the fountain of youth it was touted to be. While it helped women combat hot flashes, bone loss, and other menopause symptoms, it did so at a cost. The study found HRT also significantly raised a woman’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke and breast cancer.
The landmark findings by Anderson and colleagues triggered a 50 percent decline in the use of HRT, which has resulted in 15,000 to 20,000 fewer cases of breast cancer each year in the U.S. Worldwide, the decreased use of HRT has resulted in additional reductions in breast cancer incidence by tens of thousands of cases per year.
The study also has had a significant economic impact; while the federally funded clinical trial cost $260 million (in 2012 dollars), the net economic return was more than $37 billion. That’s a return of approximately $140 on every dollar invested in the trial, according to an analysis by Anderson and her health economist colleagues in the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
More important, the findings sparked a sea change in women’s health. Anderson and colleagues estimate that in the decade following the trial, approximately 4.3 million women have stopped taking HRT, resulting in 126,000 fewer breast cancer cases, 76,000 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease and 80,000 fewer cases of venous thromboembolism (potentially deadly blood clots).
In addition to women’s health, Anderson’s research interests and areas of expertise include the design, analysis, and conduct of randomized clinical trials, considered the “gold standard” of biomedical research, biostatistics, prevention of chronic disease, and ovarian cancer screening and risk.
Anderson has been on the Public Health Sciences Division faculty since 1989 and has served as its director since 2013. She also is an affiliate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
Other Fred Hutch faculty and staff named Women of Influence include Dr. Julie McElrath, senior vice president and director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division (2013) and Myra Tanita, chief operating officer (2011).
AACI's CRI provides a forum for clinical research leaders to share information and to advocate for improving the national clinical trials enterprise. CRI objectives include developing better methods to disseminate information across cancer centers, identifying clinical research challenges, and sharing proven means of addressing challenges and measuring progress. The CRI program aligns with AACI's strategic goal to stimulate interactions among cancer centers in order to maximize the use of resources and to facilitate research. The individuals involved in CRI fill a variety of leadership roles and possess a comprehensive understanding of their center's entire clinical trials system.
Martin is medical director of Clinical Research Support at Fred Hutch. He has served on the AACI-CRI Steering Committee since November 2013, and his two-year term as chair began Sept. 1.