Good News: Purchase Fred Hutch vanity plates to help drive cancer research

Celebrating faculty and staff achievements
The Fred Hutch vanity plate
The new vanity plate bears the Hutch's logo and official tagline, "Cures Start Here." Fred Hutch file

Purchase Fred Hutch vanity plates to help drive cancer research

Thanks to robust community support, Fred Hutch vanity plates are now available to order by visiting any Washington State Department of Licensing office or by downloading the application and submitting it via U.S. mail.

The plates, available for purchase since Oct. 1, bear the Hutch’s logo and official tagline, “Cures Start Here.”

For every set of plates sold, the Hutch receives $28 to support its lifesaving, innovative science.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee approved a bill in April that allows Fred Hutch to benefit from the sale of vanity plates. The initiative was made possible by the support of more than 4,000 people who signed the petition to get the bill before the state legislature for approval.

“We are thrilled that Washington state residents have the opportunity to support the Hutch in this way, “ said Keri Balmer, executive director of Annual Giving at Fred Hutch. “The plates will help increase awareness about our amazing institution, while raising vital funds for our research. Every dollar makes a difference.” 

— Kristen Woodward / Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Ben Anderson
Dr. Ben Anderson Fred Hutch file

Breast Health Global Initiative receives support from Susan G. Komen

Longtime leader in global cancer control Dr. Ben Anderson was just awarded $550,000 by Susan G. Komen to further his work with the Breast Health Global Initiative, or BHGI, an international health alliance founded by Fred Hutch and the Komen organization. 

A Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center epidemiologist, University of Washington professor of surgery and global health, and the co-founder, chair, and director of BHGI, Anderson said he was very grateful for Komen’s ongoing support of the organization and its goals: improving breast health outcomes and access to breast cancer screening, detection, and treatment for women in low- and middle-income countries.

Komen has backed the BHGI substantially and consistently since 2002,” he said. “When we first started the concept of studying cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, it was considered laughable, if not impossible. And we’re now in a very different place. The World Health Organization and other global entities are actively participating in addressing the needs of these countries.”

The hub of BHGI, according to Anderson, has been the development of resource-stratified guidelines, that is, putting together the best possible breast-health strategy for whatever country — or population — you’re trying to serve.

“You have to build a foundation before you build a first and second story,” he said.

Historically, well-intended groups have tried to improve early detection of breast cancer in low-income countries by “packaging up a bunch of mammographic equipment and shipping it off,” he said. The problem is, those countries may not have an infrastructure in place to use the equipment, so it just sits in a corner, gathering dust.

In the Asian, African, and Latin American countries where BHGI has set up “learning laboratories,” Anderson said it’s more common for women to be diagnosed with larger, palpable masses in their breasts. Identifying and treating these more advanced breast cancers, he said, is a bigger priority than setting up screening systems for smaller cancers that can only be found via mammography.

“Resource-stratified guidelines are all about how you apply what you have in the most efficient way to create sustainable, culturally appropriate breast-care programs,” he said. “You have to be able to manage the disease you can feel and see before you get into image-detected screening.  While that seems obvious, it’s amazing how often it’s missed.”

Anderson said BHGI’s approach has been so successful that the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American Society of Clinical Oncology have adopted similar tacks.

“The approach we’ve developed has also been adopted in a general sense by the World Health Organization,” he said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

In recent years, BHGI has turned its focus to next steps, or what Anderson terms “phased implementation” — figuring out the incremental changes that get you where you want to be, breast health-wise, in various countries.

“It’s fine to have the framework but that’s not enough to make it workable,” he said. “You then have to go in planned steps. And you need to come up with an order [of phased implementation] that is sensible in the environment you’re practicing in. The order that you take in Peru might be different than the order you take in Tanzania.”

BHGI has partnered with Breast Cancer Initiative 2.5, a global campaign to improve breast cancer outcomes in 2.5 million women by 2025, to analyze and assess needs in various countries.  

“You gotta know what you got to decide what steps you can do,” he said.

That’s where the new funding, one of 98 Komen grants totaling $30.7 million awarded nationwide this year, comes in.

Anderson said he will be collaborating with researchers at Fred Hutch and elsewhere to develop practical, realistic metrics that measure the effectiveness of a framework of interventions developed by BHGI for three specific areas:  Tanzania, Peru (or a similar middle-income environment in Latin America) and eastern Washington.

“It’s great to do good work, but if you don’t measure your outcomes, you won’t know if your program made a difference,” said Anderson, who is also a Komen Scholar.  “The goal is to create tools that can be used so the people within a country can create their own sustainable system. I’m very excited that we have funding to do this next step.”

— Diane Mapes, Fred Hutch News Service

Dr. Adam Geballe
Dr. Adam Geballe Fred Hutch file

Dr. Adam Geballe new associate director of Human Biology Division

Virologist and physician-scientist Dr. Adam Geballe has stepped into the role of associate director of the Human Biology Division. He replaces outgoing Associate Director Dr. Denise Galloway, who now heads the Pathogen-Associated Malignancies Integrated Research Center.

Geballe’s “interests are broad and he’s respected by everybody,” said Human Biology Director Dr. Eric Holland, who considers the new associate director “a kind and thoughtful” colleague who represents the division’s long-standing commitment to scientific diversity. Having been involved in the division since its origins in the Molecular Medicine program, Geballe also brings a deep understanding of the division’s culture and history, Holland said.

“It’s human biology, not just cancer biology,” Holland noted. In addition to cancer, researchers in the Human Biology Division are “interested in how pathogens interact with the human immune system, and how they evolve.” Geballe’s leadership will help ensure that every member’s interests are represented.

Geballe, who arrived at the Hutch 30 years ago, studies how large DNA viruses like cytomegalovirus interact with target cells and the strategies each side continually evolves to evade or combat the other. He also consults on infectious disease cases at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch’s clinical care partner.

“I’ve always thought of Human Biology as a hub in the Hutch as whole,” Geballe said. Many faculty members have appointments in other divisions, which helps to foster productive collaborations among researchers spread across the center. He hopes to continue fostering these connections, as well as the eclectic nature of the division’s scientific interests.

“One of the strengths of the Hutch is how interdisciplinary it is, even between divisions, and how tolerant it is of different perspectives and different types of research,” he said.

--Sabrina Richards / Fred Hutch News Service

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