Blood cancer experts Drs. Roland Walter and Mazyar Shadman receive endowed chairs

Chairs recognize innovation and contributions to blood cancer research
Fred Hutch hematologists Drs. Roland Walter (left) and Mazyar Shadman just received endowed chair appointments.
Fred Hutch hematologists Drs. Roland Walter (left) and Mazyar Shadman just received endowed chair appointments. Photos by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center recently named two distinguished hematologists, Roland Walter, MD, PhD, and Mazyar Shadman, MD, MPH, with endowed chair appointments.

Endowed chairs represent one of the highest honors a Fred Hutch faculty member can receive. The positions will allow them to further their research and gain new insights into treatments for patients with hematologic cancers and diseases.

Walter is the recipient of the distinguished José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair for Cancer Research and Shadman is the recipient of the Innovators Network Endowed Chair. Both appointments began July 1, 2023. The José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair for Cancer Research is a five-year award; the Innovators Network Endowed Chair is a three-year award.

The José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair

Walter was named the fourth recipient of the distinguished José Carreras/E. Donnall Thomas Endowed Chair for Cancer Research, which was established by the Friends of José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation in 2007. This chair rotates recipients every five years. The previous chair was held by Geoffrey Hill, MD, FRACP, senior vice president and director of the Translational Science and Therapeutics Division at Fred Hutch.

Walter’s laboratory is advancing leading-edge translational research for acute myeloid leukemia with the goal of developing new treatments, focusing on antibody-based immunotherapies. The group is doing this both by optimizing the efficacy and safety profile of existing therapeutics (e.g. gemtuzumab ozogamicin, a CD33 antibody-drug conjugate now approved for patient use that was conceptualized and pioneered by investigators at Fred Hutch) and through the preclinical and early clinical development of novel antigen-directed immunotherapies. 

Many of their studies are aimed at optimizing CD33-targeted and, more recently, CD123-and CD45-targeted therapies, with increasing efforts centered around highly potent alpha emitter-based radioimmunotherapies with engineered protein delivery vehicles. As part of their collaborative work with industry, they have contributed to the development of five potential treatments that have subsequently gone on to being tested in clinical trials.

“Dr. Walter’s insights and findings in AML have already been groundbreaking,” said Fred Hutch President and Director Thomas J. Lynch Jr., MD, who holds the Raisbeck Endowed Chair. “He is a dedicated researcher and clinical leader who is committed to finding cures for patients with hematologic malignancies and disease. I have no doubt that this funding will allow him not only to continue this work but to help move all of medicine forward.”

The Innovators Network Endowed Chair

The Innovators Network Endowed Chair, which Shadman will now hold, was created as a catalyst for leading-edge cancer research and supports an early-career scientist whose work includes evidence of patient benefit, creativity and novel approach to research, and collaborative use of data science and/or emerging technology.

The chair rotates every three years to a Fred Hutch junior faculty member in a different scientific division. The chair was established in 2019 by members of Fred Hutch’s Innovators Network (IN), a community of young leaders committed to ending cancer in their lifetime, through contributions made at the annual IN for the Hutch event. IN for the Hutch will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September.

Shadman is a blood and marrow transplant expert and serves as an associate professor in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch and in UW Medicine’s Division of Medical Oncology. His research group focuses on developing novel therapeutic agents (targeted therapy and immunotherapy) for lymphoid malignancies.

Shadman also leads clinical trials that utilize novel agents for the treatment of blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, with a focus on chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Additionally, he studies the long-term clinical outcomes of patients with blood cancer after treatment. His goal is to identify factors related to either disease or patients that can be used to understand the behavior of the disease. This information can be used to identify patients who can benefit from specific treatments.

“This chair is one of the most significant investments we've ever made,” explained attorney Lance Pelletier, who serves on the Innovators Network council.

“It ensures sustainable, perpetual support for young, brilliant professionals like [previous chair and lung cancer researcher] Dr. Alice Berger and now Dr. Shadman, a compassionate clinician who understands — firsthand — the challenges cancer patients face today,” he continued. “We are proud to power Dr. Shadman's research and provide him the freedom to experiment, to advance care and to find cures.”

Berger and her lab at Fred Hutch continue to research how changes to genetic code lead to cancer and work to translate these insights into new drug targets and biomarkers.

About endowed chairs

Endowed chairs provide ongoing funding for a faculty member’s work via investment returns and recognize their contributions and excellence in their field. At Fred Hutch, donors can choose to endow a chair for a faculty member with a gift of $2 million or more. Fred Hutch currently has 39 endowed chairs, which allow donors to partner with scientists and clinicians and invest in high-risk, high-reward research. Endowed chairs provide sustained, flexible support and promote forward-looking research.

Read more about Fred Hutch achievements and accolades.

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