Dr. Gary Gilliland named ‘Geek of the Year’

‘We will cure cancer. And we will cure it in a very short time frame,’ said Fred Hutch president and director at the 10th annual GeekWire Awards
See Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland accept his Geek of the Year award last night at the 10th annual GeekWire Awards in Seattle. Video courtesy of GeekWire

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland, a physician-scientist who is renowned for his expertise in cancer genetics and precision medicine, last night added another feather to his cap, winning “Geek of the Year” at the 10th annual GeekWire Awards. The event, which honored the top companies and entrepreneurs across the Pacific Northwest in 13 categories ranging from “Deal of the Year” to “Next Tech Titan,” drew more than 900 to Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture.

Upon accepting the honor, announced by GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop and presented by Wave Business, Gilliland said, “We will cure cancer. And we will cure it in a very short time frame.” But, he implored the tech community, “We can’t do it alone.” He then invited his fellow nominees to join him onstage, telling the crowd, “You have to know who these people are — they’re amazing people.”

Joining him in the spotlight were Geek of the Year finalists Caroline King, co-founder and CEO of Washington STEM; Solynn McCurdy, CEO of Social Venture Partners; Amy Nelson, CEO of The Riveter; and, from Code.org, CEO Hadi Partovi and President Alice Steinglass — all, according to GeekWire, “Northwest heavy hitters working to do good using technology.”

In announcing Gilliland’s nomination last month, GeekWire’s Lisa Stiffler referred to his “audacious prediction,” published in GeekWire in 2015, that “it is actually plausible that in 10 years we will have cures and therapies for most, if not all, human cancers.”

Gilliland discussed his bold prediction last October during a Fireside Chat at the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle, one of the premier technology conferences in the U.S. “Let’s be the state that’s known for working together to implement curative approaches to cancer,” Gilliland said. “We’re sitting in an environment that’s like nowhere else in the word,” citing the Seattle area’s powerhouse industries not only in biomedical research but in cloud computing and data science.

In addition to Geek of the Year, another award category with ties to Fred Hutch was GeekWire’s Newcomer of the Year. Finalist SPRInT, short for Seattle Partnership for Research on Innovative Therapies, is an alliance between the Hutch, the University of Washington and Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. that aims to accelerate drug discovery in diseases with widespread need for novel treatments or cures, including cancer. Snowflake Computing was the winner in that category.

Read more about Fred Hutch achievements and accolades.

Kristen Woodward, a former associate editor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, had been in communications at Fred Hutch for more than 20 years. Before that, she was a managing editor at the University of Michigan Health System and a reporter/editor at The Holland Sentinel, a daily in western Michigan. She has received many national awards for health and science writing. She received her B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University. 

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