The Puget Sound Business Journal on Friday celebrated the region’s preeminent leaders in health care at its inaugural Health Care Leadership Awards. The 16 honorees, who were feted at a luncheon at the Westin Bellevue, included Dr. Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, senior vice president and director of the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division.
In addition to being honored at the luncheon, Gilliland, the recipient of PSBJ’s Visionary Award, and Davidson, who received its Researcher of the Year Award, were also profiled this week in a special section of the weekly business publication. (PSBJ digital subscription required to access the links in this paragraph.)
The awards, which honor those on the front lines of the health care industry, highlight innovative and influential thinkers whose leadership has had a lasting impact on the region.
(In alphabetical order; subscription required to access available links.)
Community Connector Award
J. Michael Marsh
Overlake Medical Center & Clinics
Community Impact Award
Doctor of the Year
Dr. Rebecca Haley
Equity Leadership Award
Paula Houston and Dr. Patricia Dawson
Health Care Executive of the Year
Navos, MultiCare Behavioral Health
Sister Susanne Hartung
Providence St. Joseph Health
Life Sciences Executive of the Year
OtoNexus Medical Technologies
Dr. Lee Hood
Institute for Systems Biology & Providence St. Joseph Health
Physician Educator of the Year
Dr. Edward Verrier
Public Health Leadership Award
Community Health Plan of Washington & Community Health Network of Washington
Researcher of the Year
Dr. Nancy Davidson
SCCA, Fred Hutch, UW
Strategic Leadership Award
Technology Innovation Award
Up and Comer
Dr. Gary Gilliland
Gilliland, an internationally renowned expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine, has been at the helm of Fred Hutch since January 2015 and recently announced his plans to step down next year.
“Over the past five years, we’ve accomplished so much,” he told PSBJ reporter Coral Garnick. “And so, this is the perfect moment to recruit a new president and director. The best leaders understand the importance of placing the organization first and of effective transition and succession. I believe it’s time to open the door to a leader who can guide the organization into the next decade.”
In the past five years, Gilliland’s accomplishments have included diversifying and growing the center’s faculty by 20%, acquiring the historical Lake Union Steam Plant Building adjacent to the Hutch campus (former location of Zymogenetics) to grow its laboratory research space and creating three integrated research centers to foster collaboration in immunotherapy, pathogen-associated malignancies and data science.
Under Gilliland’s leadership, the Hutch has also grown its endowed research chairs ninefold and has seen an increase of nearly 50% in federal funding, putting the Hutch at the top of freestanding research institutes in National Institutes of Health grants. Other notable accomplishments during his watch include the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium recently receiving an “exceptional” score (the highest ranking) from the National Cancer Institute as part of its Cancer Center Support Grant renewal process.
Gilliland, a physician-scientist with a background in academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, has made major contributions to the genetic basis of blood diseases, particularly leukemia. His research has led to new, precise treatments that stop cancer while causing minimal side effects.
In addition to leading the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division since 2016, Davidson has served as president and director of the nationally recognized Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the Hutch’s clinical-care partner, where she treats breast cancer patients. She also heads the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
How is she able to wear so many hats? “My responsibilities are all part of a single goal shared by SCCA/Hutch/UW — to reduce the burden of cancer through clinical care, research, education and community outreach,” she told PSBJ’s Garnick. “It is a privilege to be able to continue to care for individuals with breast cancer because it reminds me every day about the challenges that our patients face and the problems that we must solve, both in the lab and in the clinic, to optimize their care.”
Davidson, who holds the Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Collaborative Research at Fred Hutch, is a world-renowned breast cancer researcher who has teased out the role of hormones in the growth and progression of the disease. She has also had a major impact on the development of new treatments for breast cancer that exploit the vulnerabilities of breast cancer cells.
She is past president of the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO — the two largest organizations for cancer researchers and oncology professionals in the world. In 2018 Davidson received the ASCO Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award, named in honor of the organization’s former chief executive officer. Her other honors include being elected to the National Academy of Medicine and the Association of American Physicians. Earlier this year she was elected to the 239th class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a distinction she shares with more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Kristen Woodward, a former associate editor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research 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.