Good News: Overbaugh wins Nature mentoring award; GivingTuesday fuels $75K in donations to Hutch

Celebrating faculty and staff achievements
Dr. Julie Overbaugh
Dr. Julie Overbaugh reacts to applause from friends and colleagues after winning the Nature Award for Mentoring in Science. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Julie Overbaugh recognized for lifetime of mentorship

Dr. Julie Overbaugh, an HIV researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was honored Thursday with the lifetime Nature Award for Mentoring in Science and a $10,000 prize. 

Nature, an international weekly journal of science, hosts these annual awards to champion those who inspire science’s next generation. This was the first year that the Nature Mentoring Awards, now in their 11th year, took place in the U.S. 

"Nobody who knows Julie — especially those who have known her as a mentor — are at all surprised that she was chosen,” said Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland. “To me, Julie epitomizes a central tenet of the Hutch — incredible science performed with the interest of others in mind.”

Overbaugh has contributed many insights into HIV transmission, the immune responses it triggers and those it evades, as well as its methods of slipping past immune defenses. In particular, she discovered a transmission bottleneck that limits the number and type of HIV variants that pass from one host to another, and she determined that sugar groups on the outside of HIV help shield the virus from protective antibodies.

Her work in maternal and infant HIV transmission helped elucidate the HIV transmission risk posed by breastfeeding, and it highlighted unique characteristics of the infant immune response that could inform vaccine development.

“I’m both embarrassed and deeply honored by this award,” said Overbaugh, a member of the Human Biology and Public Health Sciences divisions at Fred Hutch. “It’s important to me because it shows the support of my lab group, which motivates me and keeps me interested.

“I hope this award sends the message that you can combine good science with individuals and make trainees’ needs part of that program,” she said.

— Sabrina Richards / Fred Hutch News Service

Shama Samant
Fred Hutch research administrator Shama Samant Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Donors contributed $75K to Fred Hutch on Giving Tuesday 

On Giving Tuesday, hundreds gave thousands to Fred Hutch.

Some 200 donors contributed more than $75,000 to help fund research at the Hutch to eradicate cancer and related diseases. That amount was roughly double what the Hutch received on Giving Tuesday in 2015.

About $5,000 of the amount raised was generated via Facebook Fundraisers. Through that feature, launched this year by Facebook, users can set up fundraisers to support their favorite nonprofits.

“Thank you to all who contributed and encouraged the support of others during Tuesday’s campaign,” said Andrea MacPherson, annual giving project coordinator at Fred Hutch. “Your generosity makes a difference in the lives of many.”

The Tuesday that falls just after Thanksgiving is annually designated “Giving Tuesday.” It serves as a national drive to remind folks across the country to donate to charities amid the consumer-crazed spending that’s churned by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Tuesday’s contributions to the Hutch also helped launch the December Year-End Challenge campaign, which has a goal of a $195,000 to help drive Hutch science. For that effort, all gifts made through Dec. 31 to Fred Hutch will be doubled by a generous supporter.

— Bill Briggs / Fred Hutch News Service 

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