Dr. Lily Selim receives inaugural CTI BioPharma International Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Pediatric hematologist/oncologist studies new ways to detect and manage early leukemia relapse in children
Dr. Lily Selim
Dr. Lily Selim Photo by William Wright / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Lily Selim, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and visiting investigator in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch, has received the inaugural CTI BioPharma International Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, an endowed visiting fellowship for physician-scientists with an emphasis on treating and studying blood cancers.

Her yearlong fellowship was made possible by the establishment last fall of a $1.5 million research endowment and fund by Seattle-based CTI BioPharma and Fred Hutch.

The fellowship, established in memory of Hutch bone marrow transplant pioneer and Nobel laureate Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, is intended to foster international collaboration in translational research and support advancements in the fields of hematology and immunobiology.

“Establishing this endowed international visiting fellowship to Fred Hutch stems from our commitment to translate scientific discoveries into innovative therapies that cure patients with blood-related cancers,” said Dr. James A. Bianco, co-founder, president, and CEO of CTI BioPharma who himself was a research fellow at Fred Hutch, working alongside Thomas in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Selim, an Egyptian citizen, has been a visiting investigator in the Fred Hutch laboratory of Dr. Soheil Meshinchi and a visiting transplant physician at Seattle Children’s and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance since her arrival in Seattle last spring.

Her research focuses on studying ways to better detect and manage early disease relapse, particularly acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, in children. In the Meshinchi Laboratory, she is working to develop a test to evaluate treatment response, and predict disease progression and survival outcome in transplant patients.

Selim received specialty training in hematology/oncology as a resident and fellow at Children’s Hospital of Ain Shams University in Cairo, one of the largest children’s hospitals in Egypt. She also received a bachelor’s degree in medicine and general surgery, a master’s degree in pediatrics, and a doctoral degree in pediatric hematology from ASU, after which she participated in a three-year hematopoietic transplant fellowship at Nasser Institute in Cairo, the first government-based transplant center in Egypt, and later joined its Bone Marrow Transplant Service. Currently, she’s pursuing a second doctoral degree in pediatric oncology, focusing on outcomes of autologous transplantation for the treatment of Hodgkin disease.

Her fellowship began on April 1 and is up for renewal after a year.

Kristen Woodward / Fred Hutch News Service

Drs. Hans-Peter Kiem and Chris Peterson
Chris Peterson, right, is among eight scientists and associates of the laboratory of Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem, left, who will present at the annual meeting of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy in Washington, D.C., next month. Fred Hutch file

Kiem Lab scientists, associates will give 8 presentations at ASGCT conference

The laboratory of Fred Hutch oncologist, stem cell and gene therapy researcher Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem will be well-represented at the 19th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy, or ASGCT, May 4-7 in Washington, D.C. Members of his team will contribute seven oral presentations and one poster presentation.

The Kiem Lab focuses on stem cell biology/transplantation and gene therapy/editing with applications for cancer, HIV, and genetic diseases that affect blood cells, such as sickle cell disease and Fanconi anemia.

Research scientist Dr. Chris Peterson will speak on Wednesday, May 4, about a study involving removing blood stem cells from a preclinical model and using a gene-editing technique called zinc finger nucleases, or ZFNs, to disrupt a receptor used as a doorway by most forms of HIV. The research, recently published in the journal Blood, is the first study to use genome-edited stem cells in preclinical models most closely resembling humans, Kiem said.

Other presenters include Drs. Olivier Humbert (with two presentations), Frieda Chan, Kevin Haworth, and fourth-year Ph.D. student Bish Paul. Dr. Jennifer Adair, formerly with Kiem’s lab, now a junior faculty member, will present a study on gene-modified blood stem cell transplantation in a preclinical model that suggests previous studies underestimate graft repopulation potential. Dr. Anne Sophie Kuhlman of Kiem’s lab will present a poster.

The nonprofit ASGCT is the largest professional association of researchers, physicians, patient advocates, and other professionals working to advance knowledge in genetic and cellular therapies to control and cure human disease.

— Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service

Nicole Robinson
Nicole "Niki" Robinson Fred Hutch file

Nicole Robinson, vice president of Business Development and Industry Relations, a GeekWire Award finalist

Nicole “Niki” Robinson, vice president of Business Development and Industry Relations at Fred Hutch, is among five finalists for GeekWire’s “Hire of the Year Award.” Community online voting begins today. The award recognizes some of the “key hires that will accelerate companies and organizations, pushing them to new heights and possibly altering the landscape as we know it,” according to GeekWire’s website.

Robinson came to Fred Hutch last July from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she served as assistant vice president of the Center for Technology Commercialization, leading the technology transfer and commercialization development team.

Other finalists in the Hire of the Year category are Ana Mari Cauce, president of the University of Washington; Krish Srinivasan, chief financial officer of Remitly; Kevin Goldsmith, chief technology officer of Avvo; and Mike Fridgen, chief executive officer of Madrona Venture Labs.

Another GeekWire Award finalist this year with ties to Fred Hutch is Adaptive Biotechnologies, a spinoff company that is up for the “Next Tech Titan Award.” The company develops new technologies to sequence T- and B-cell receptors in the immune system. Dr. Harlan Robins, head of Fred Hutch’s Computational Biology Program, is the company’s co-founder and chief scientific officer.

Now in its eighth year, the GeekWire Awards, which will take place May 12 at the EMP in Seattle, is one of the most hotly anticipated events in the Seattle tech community, bringing together hundreds to celebrate innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. Winners will be chosen in more than a dozen categories, from Startup of the Year to Geek of the Year. 

Kristen Woodward / Fred Hutch News Service         

Ronald Lumala with his son Mike Kiragga, who was successfully treated for Burkitt lymphoma
Ronald Lumala hugs his son Mike Kiragga, who was successfully treated for Burkitt lymphoma at the Uganda Cancer Institute. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Hutch-nominated topic wins ‘Untold Global Health Stories of 2016’ contest

“Infection-related cancers in the developing world” was the grand-prize winning topic in this year’s Untold Global Health Stories of 2016 contest, beating out more than 180 other entries. The prize is a feature series on the topic on National Public Radio’s Goats and Soda blog, which focuses on global health. The contest was sponsored by Global Health NOW of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, NPR’s Goats and Soda, and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.

The topic was nominated by Fred Hutch News Service science writer Susan Keown in a contest aimed to shine a spotlight on a disease or health issue that has a major impact on global health but has received little or no media attention.

In her nomination, Keown cited the disproportionately high burden of infection-related cancers in developing nations and focused in on Burkitt lymphoma, an area of particular research interest at Fred Hutch and its partners at the Uganda Cancer Institute. Burkitt lymphoma is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is the number-one cause of cancer deaths in children in sub-Saharan Africa.

The prize was presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health on April 10.

NPR plans to launch its series on infection-related cancers in the fall and has begun making plans to send a reporter to Africa to cover the topic firsthand. Fred Hutch’s Communications & Marketing Department also plans to connect the NPR reporter with Hutch scientists who are experts in these diseases.

Last year’s winning topic, the flesh-eating fungal disease mycetoma, was featured in a three-part series on NPR in December.

Fred Hutch News Service staff

Read more about Fred Hutch achievements and accolades.

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