Hutch News Stories

2022 Year in Review

A look at the most interesting and important stories of the past year

Fred Hutch's 2022 Year in Pictures

Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

There isn’t a business as usual when it comes to cancer research and clinical care, but 2022 brought significant changes for us, most evidenced by our new name — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center — to reflect a new organization that unites comprehensive care and advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options and accelerate discoveries that prevent, treat and defeat cancer and infectious diseases.

In April, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center was created by the merger of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance with the goal of bringing scientific advances to patients more quickly. As part of the restructuring, Fred Hutch now serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program. This unique relationship between two separate organizations allows for enhanced care coordination between a top-ranked cancer center and one of the world's leading integrated health systems.

“Today’s milestone is a tremendous step toward our vision of decreasing the time between discovery and delivery of the most advanced treatments for our patients,” said Fred Hutch President and Director and Raisbeck Endowed Chair holder Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, who held the same titles at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center before the merger.

2022 Year in Review

See the compelling images from the past year in the Year in Photos.

Read the 2022 DEI Annual Report to see how we are pursuing critical change together. 

Although the organization has a new name, Lynch stressed that Fred Hutch’s dedication to research excellence remains unchanged. He said those scientific endeavors will only be enhanced by a streamlined organizational structure and tighter integration with clinical care.

These changes followed the expansion of the Fred Hutch/University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium to serve residents of the entire state of Washington. That expansion meant additional opportunities for outreach, education and cancer prevention to communities that have historically been marginalized or are underserved, such as Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, LGBTQ or rural residents. 

“The catchment area is an important aspect of our Cancer Consortium,” said Lynch, in January. “It’s a geographic representation of our Consortium’s reach into many different communities to help address their needs for understanding, preventing, and treating cancer.”

Fred Hutch began the rollout of a new brand and logo that represent the combined science and lifesaving skills of its single unified organization in October. New signs, website updates and other changes were designed to communicate Fred Hutch’s commitment to accelerating its impact and helping people overcome devastating diseases. 

“Our new brand is strongly influenced by our mission and how we act but also by how well we can tell our story and position ourselves as meaningful and relevant in the minds of others,” said Kimberly Ovitt, Fred Hutch’s vice president and chief marketing and communications officer. 

‘There have already been some incredible discoveries in precision oncology, but in pockets. The scaling up of these new revolutions in precision oncology is going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years.’

— Fred Hutch Chief Data Officer Dr. Jeff Leek

Support for the future

This renewed vision for the future of cancer research and care received a transformational commitment of $78M in early September by Stuart Sloan and his wife Molly Sloan to establish the Stuart and Molly Sloan Precision Oncology Institute to help scientists fulfill the early promise of data-driven precision oncology. The commitment will provide an opportunity to build a modern data science program that addresses current challenges with an eye to the future.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for someone like me to imagine from the ground up. There have already been some incredible discoveries in precision oncology, but in pockets,” said Jeff Leek, PhD, who is Fred Hutch’s new Chief Data Officer and holds the Orin J. Edson Endowed Chair. “The scaling up of these new revolutions in precision oncology is going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years.”

In October, the Bezos family committed $710.5 million over the next 10 years to radically expand and speed Fred Hutch’s use of fundamental science to answer the most complex biological questions and translate the answers into new ways to prevent, treat and cure cancer and infectious diseases.

“We hope this announcement highlights the science happening at Fred Hutch as they pursue a future where cures exist for cancer and infectious diseases,” said Jackie Bezos. “It is also a call to action to support the science and be part of the next breakthrough. When we come together, we are bigger than the problems facing us. Let’s make the impossible possible.”

These large-scale examples are echoed by the broad support that was most visible at Obliteride, where a record-breaking 5,500 people on more than 450 teams joined this year’s 10th anniversary celebration, virtually and in person, to have fun, honor loved ones and raise funding and awareness for research. All told, over its 10 years, Obliteride participants, donors and sponsors have raised nearly $40 million (and counting) to help Fred Hutch advance prevention, treatment, care and cures for cancer and infectious diseases.

Building toward change

Improving health equity as well as diversity, equity and inclusion were a significant focus for Fred Hutch this year and that work came to life in several areas. The patient navigators program ramped up to help people navigate the complicated cancer care system and other supportive efforts such as the həliʔil program worked to increase lung cancer screening and smoking cessation among Indigenous communities.

“Underserved populations often have a very challenging time accessing cancer care at the frequency and intensity it’s needed,” said Jay Mendoza, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and director of the Fred Hutch/University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium’s Office of Community Outreach & Engagement. “We’re really interested in helping to close the gaps in care which are often created by our systems. The health care system in general is pretty byzantine. It’s not easy to get through even if you’re coming from within. These navigators do an amazing job of closing gaps, making people feel welcome and making sure there’s a familiar face that patients and their families can turn to for help.”

The Public Art and Community Dialogue Program launched this year as the latest expression of the center’s commitment to advancing inclusion, equity and anti-racism within research and health care. The program explores a new way to foster connections between science and underrepresented communities and to embody the pursuit of scientific excellence through more robust anti-racism and inclusion efforts.

“This program offers us an opportunity to make an authentic statement about community, health and healing within the context of persistent social detractors of health, like racism and other systems of oppression,” said Paul Buckley, PhD, vice president for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Fred Hutch. “We wanted to respond to the injustices happening around us with a series of images that reinforce our dedication to affirm the lives of marginalized communities — from the Black community to the Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA+ and Jewish communities.”

Watch as we unveil the artwork born out of our first Public Art and Community Dialogue Program.

Video by Connor O'Shaughnessy / Fred Hutch News Service

The evolving pandemic

While COVID-19 continues to impact research and care, the intensity of the threat — and the public health state of emergency restrictions — eased as the year went on, allowing for the resumption of in-person conferences, events and other activities.

While this return to more “normal” operations was positive for most people, cancer patients and many others remained vulnerable to infection, requiring them to take additional steps to protect themselves even beyond vaccines and antivirals. The research into COVID-19 and SARS-CoV2 will go on for years here even as the disease becomes endemic, thanks to some significant grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The volume of research output — as tracked by studies and published insights — ramped up as well, with too many to list.

Here are the top-read scientific news articles published in 2022 (data through early December):

We’re driven by the urgency of our patients, the hope of our community and our passion for discovery to pursue scientific breakthroughs and healthier lives for every person in every community. Our commitment is illustrated through stories of our patients. Here are some of those stories from the past year:

Explore more stories and insights from this year and earlier:

Patient Stories | News Articles | Oncology Insights | Science Spotlight | Scientific Publications

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