Fred Hutch research a GeekWire Award finalist for Health Innovation of the Year

Other finalists include Fred Hutch spinoffs Adaptive Biotechnologies and Blaze Bioscience
Diagram of a thin metal mesh containing cancer-fighting T cells.
Diagram of a thin metal mesh containing cancer-fighting T cells. Fred Hutch file image

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been selected as one of this year’s GeekWire Award finalists for Health Innovation of the Year, which recognizes innovative products in the health, life sciences, medical or biotech realms.

Fred Hutch was nominated for Dr. Matthias Stephan's research on using thin metal mesh loaded with immune cells to target solid tumors. Stephan, a clinical researcher, is an expert in immunobioengineering.

Earlier this year, his team published a paper detailing how a small piece of metal mesh can be loaded with CAR T cells engineered to fight ovarian cancer. After placing this T-cell loaded film on mouse ovarian cancer tumors, Stephan and colleagues saw that tumors were cleared in 70% of treated mice. If confirmed by further studies and trials, this approach could be expanded to treat other cancers, including pancreatic cancer, and to include other cell types.

A photo portrait of Dr. Matthias Stephan
Dr. Matthias Stephan Fred Hutch file photo

Onlive voting open through March 6

Online voting for the GeekWire Awards is open through March 6, and you can vote once a day. Tweets, blogs, Facebook posts and more are encouraged as well to show your support (but make sure to include the hashtag #geekwireawards).


"We focused on CAR T cells in the current experiment,” Stephan said, “but I could see this approach working with T-cell receptor therapies, natural kills cells and other types of immune cells that target cancer."

Of this discovery, Stephan said, "in addition to minimizing side effects in patients, our ultimate goal is to make T-cell therapies faster and cheaper to make, and easier to deliver to patients."

Nominees were chosen from hundreds of entrepreneurs, companies and technologies in the Pacific Northwest. Winners in 13 categories will be revealed March 26 at an award ceremony at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

Other finalists in the Health Innovation of the Year category are

  • Athira Pharma
  • Blaze Bioscience (a Fred Hutch spinoff)
  • Sana Biotechnology
  • Sound Life Sciences

Another Hutch spinoff, Adaptive Biotechnologies, is among five nominees for the Deal of the Year: IPOs & Acquisitions award.

Now in its 12th year, the GeekWire Awards brings together over 800 members of the Seattle tech, entrepreneur and innovation communities as one of the most highly anticipated events of the year.

Natalie Myers is a former integrated content coordinator in Communications & Marketing at Fred Hutch.

Read more about Fred Hutch achievements and accolades.

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Improving cancer vaccines with T-cell programming nanoparticles Dr. Matthias Stephan receives grant to develop cancer vaccine–optimizing, TCR-programming nanotechnology July 31, 2018

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