Fred Hutch Global Oncology received an “Acting Globally” award from SeattleMet magazine for its pioneering work to address cancer disparities in low- and middle-income countries by expanding research, training and clinical care. The honor is part of the magazine’s fourth annual Light a Fire Awards, which recognize nonprofit organizations and individuals “whose extraordinary acts of service embody the Seattle spirit of giving.”
A decade ago, Fred Hutch researchers partnered with the Uganda Cancer Institute in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, on a small research project. Since then, the Uganda Cancer Institute/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance has initiated some 30 research studies, trained more than 300 Ugandan and American physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists and data specialists, and provided comprehensive case management and care for more than 200 children with Burkitt lymphoma, the most common cause of pediatric cancer death in the region. In May, the alliance opened the state-of-the-art UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre, the first comprehensive cancer center jointly built by U.S. and African cancer institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is an honor for the Global Oncology efforts of Fred Hutch to be recognized by SeattleMet,” said Dr. Corey Casper, head of Global Oncology and co-director of the Uganda alliance, who accepted the award Tuesday at a dinner at Canlis restaurant. “Fred Hutch has been a pioneer among cancer centers in its efforts to reduce the burden of cancer, not just in the United States but in parts of the world where cancer is incredibly common yet there are few options for prevention and treatment. The growing international cancer research activities at Fred Hutch help us understand more about the biology of cancer so that we can innovate better solutions for patients in low- and middle-income countries and also here at home.”
The V Foundation for Cancer Research awarded Dr. Andrew Hsieh a 2015 V Scholar Grant to study how aggressive prostate cancer can co-opt the normal process for producing proteins from mRNA to progress and develop drug resistance. V Scholar Grants are designed to help further and solidify the careers of “rising star” young investigators like Hsieh.
The two-year, $200,000 award will enable him to shed light on a little-studied way that cancer cells use protein-making factories to thrive and outrun attempts to overcome them — and possibly pave the way for new strategies to treat drug-resistant prostate cancer.
The most lethal type of prostate cancer is known as castration-resistant prostate cancer, because even depriving these tumors of the hormones they usually need to thrive does not stop them. Hsieh and others are amassing evidence that prostate tumors redirect protein synthesis for their own ends. He and his collaborators will work to uncover how this leads to cancer — and how the tumors may be sowing the seeds of their own downfall. Hsieh believes that tumor cells become “addicted” to abnormal patterns of protein production and that these patterns could be targeted to kill prostate tumors without harming healthy cells.
“I feel really honored,” said Hsieh, an assistant member of the Human Biology Division. “It’s critical that important and high-risk, high-reward work can get funded … [The grant] will allow my lab to generate important preliminary data we will use to secure other grants and advance the burgeoning field of protein synthesis control and cancer biology.”
“Awarding stellar cancer research grants is the most rewarding work we do at The V Foundation,” said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation in a press release announcing this year’s selection of V Translational and V Scholar Awards. “Our world-class scientific advisors have selected researchers and projects that are very unique and forward-looking, all aimed at putting an end to cancer. Their hope and vision is an inspiration!”
Fred Hutch faculty member Dr. David Maloney earlier this month received the Distinguished Alumni Award from his undergraduate alma mater, Whitworth University, in Spokane, Washington.
The award is presented annually at homecoming to a graduate who has reached high achievement in their chosen field, been of service to the community and the world and maintained their connection to the university after graduation. A video produced by the college lauds Maloney for his landmark clinical research on rituximab, the first antibody-based cancer drug, and his development of improved blood stem cell transplantation procedures for patients with blood cancers.
“I’m just deeply honored to be recognized by my university for these achievements. The preparation I received there as an undergraduate, and the faculty support, made it all possible,” said Maloney, who graduated from Whitworth in 1977 with a degree in chemistry and biochemistry.
Maloney is a member of the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division, where he specializes in developing safer, more effective therapies for patients with cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma. In particular, Maloney’s research focuses on the development of immunotherapies, which harness the power of the immune system against cancer.
Maloney credits the influence of a professor at Whitworth, Dr. Robert Bocksch, for helping make his career as a clinical researcher possible. Bocksch helped Maloney land a research internship at the University of California, San Francisco, during his senior year and gain valuable research experience that was a springboard into his M.D./Ph.D. degree from Stanford University.
“He was instrumental in taking an interest in me and getting me interested in science,” Maloney said.