Dr. Oliver “Ollie” Press was honored Thursday with the second annual Mentorship Award for Excellence in Mentoring Physician/Scientists from the University of Washington Department of Medicine.
The award was presented following a weekly UW Department of Medicine lecture at the UW Medical Center by department chair Dr. Bill Bremner, who read selections from nominating letters.
“Ollie embodies all that one should be as an ideal mentor,” Bremner read from one former trainee’s letter. He has “unending availability for those he trains and, importantly, leads by example.”
A researcher and clinician at UW and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who specializes in developing targeted therapies for lymphoma, Press has provided advice and guidance to people at many different levels of training, from high school students through junior faculty. He also has headed several mentorship programs for physician-scientists in training in the Fred Hutch/UW Cancer Consortium.
Serving as a mentor is “the most rewarding part of my career,” Press said upon receiving the award certificate. “It’s a terrific honor to receive this award.”
Press, the David and Patricia Giuliani/Oliver Press Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at Fred Hutch, has served as a primary mentor to dozens, including many who are now academic medical researchers at centers around the world. For 15 years, he was the associate director of the UW Medical Scientist Training Program, through which he mentored more than 100 of the top M.D./Ph.D. students at the university throughout their years of training. As the interim director of the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division, he established a mentorship program for new junior faculty, and he has led the training program for oncology fellows at UW and Fred Hutch since 2014.
Press “dedicates himself to the success of each trainee,” said one nominating letter. Others wrote that he is “a transformational mentor” who has inspired the next generation “to stretch beyond self-imposed limitations” and pursue their passions with confidence.
A second 2016 Mentorship Award, for Excellence in Mentoring Clinician/Teachers, was presented to Dr. Rosemarie Fernandez, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center.
This award is not the first time Press has been recognized for his mentorship activities. In 2015, Press won the inaugural Research Visionary Champion Award from the Washington/Alaska chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in part for his mentorship of early-career scientists.
— Susan Keown / Fred Hutch News Service
Dr. Larry Corey, president and director emeritus of Fred Hutch, founder and head of the world’s largest HIV vaccine clinical trials network and a pioneering infectious disease researcher, was named by Seattle magazine to its “Hall of Fame” honoring “innovators and trailblazers who put Seattle on the map.”
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the magazine’s editors asked an advisory panel to nominate “living legends who have made a major contribution during the past five decades” in five broad categories. Corey was selected for his contributions to research, medicine, and science.
Also honored in this category were Dr. Mary-Claire King, a University of Washington geneticist who identified the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2; Dr. Patricia Kuhl, the co-director of the UW Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences who showed how early language exposure alters the brain; Dr. Leroy Hood, founder of the Institute for System Biology, who was instrumental in mapping the human genome; and Lucy Berliner, director of the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress and a leader in working with young sexual assault victims.
Corey made a name for hismself early in his career working with biochemist Trudy Elion at Burroughs Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) to show that acyclovir, a new type of drug invented by Elion and directed for the first time at an enzyme specific for a virus, could control and suppress a viral infection. Today, acyclovir and its successors have reduced mortality rates for babies born with herpes from 80 to 10 percent. Corey also studied the daily use of the antiviral to prevent transmission, an approach that would later be used for HIV. These early studies paved the way for antiviral therapies for HIV, as well as for the viral infections hepatitis B and C.
Beginning in the late 1980s, he headed the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, or ACTG, a network overseeing tests of HIV therapies. The ACTG developed and tested combination drug therapies that by 1996 extended the life expectancy of people with HIV from between six and nine months to 20 years.
In 1998, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of National Institutes of Health, asked if he would develop and lead a second large network, this one to test HIV vaccines. Corey assembled a global team to run the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, or HVTN, which is based at Fred Hutch. Known for its commitment to community involvement, the HVTN is currently overseeing two major HIV vaccine and vaccine-related clinical trials in the Americas and southern Africa.
Corey also helped found Juno Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on novel immunotherapies for cancer using reprogrammed T cells that directly attack the malignancy while avoiding healthy tissue. Most recently, he has begun working with the Fred Hutch-based defeatHIV group on whether targeted T cells could play a role in bringing about a cure or long-term remission for HIV.
— Mary Engel / Fred Hutch News Service
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