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Mentor Role, Internet Course Win National Award For Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Institutional Review Office Director

SEATTLE — Dec. 19, 2001 — Karen Hansen, director of the Institutional Review Office at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is the 2001 recipient of the distinguished-service award from the Applied Research Ethics National Association, known as ARENA.

The award is recognition for her contributions to the ethical conduct of research. The award was presented at a meeting of 1,200 association members in Boston earlier this month. ARENA is a national organization for professionals concerned with issues relating to the protection of human subjects, the humane care and treatment of animals, scientific misconduct, ethical decision-making in healthcare, and other ethical issues in biomedical and behavioral research.

According to Helen McGough, director of the University of Washington's Institutional Review Office and a past award recipient, the recognition of Hansen's accomplishments was long overdue. Hansen is recognized nationwide as a mentor and the pioneer in Internet-based training on human-subjects protection.

"Karen has made outstanding contributions every year that she's been an ARENA member," says McGough. "She has unflagging good spirit and is always willing to pitch in and do whatever work needs to be done."

Hansen has directed the Hutchinson Center's Institutional Review Office since 1988, which coordinates activities involving the Institutional Review Board, a committee of doctors, nurses, patients and community members responsible for reviewing human subject research. The office also oversees the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which is responsible for review of research involving live, vertebrate animals.

She also serves on ARENA's public-policy committee and has served as president of the group, has distinguished herself as a national leader in the implementation of federal policies for research conduct and patient protection. For several years, Hansen has represented the Hutchinson Center on national policy issues in patient protection.

"The center's Institutional Review Office has undergone considerable review over the past year, and all of the reviewers have commented upon the quality of the office and the national stature that Karen has achieved through her skill, dedication and hard work," says Peggy Means, Fred Hutchinson executive vice president and chief operating officer. "I know that Karen deeply appreciates the work that all of the volunteer board members do to protect human subjects, and it spurs her to give her very best effort. We are also fortunate to have such a strong Institutional Review Office staff so that Karen can continue to play a leadership role nationally."

Among Hansen's recent accomplishments was helping create and launch the Collaborative Institutional Review Board Training Initiative, an Internet-based course that provides required training for scientists who conduct human-subjects research.

"When the need for education of researchers became mandatory, Karen took the lead in establishing what has become a very successful training course," said Elizabeth Bankert, ARENA president, who also notes Hansen's "sunny" disposition.

"Karen has been a mentor and source of constant encouragement to new ARENA members as we all attempt to find our way through the maze of federal regulations," Bankert said. "She is dedicated and willing to spend time and energy for the pursuit of improving the rights and welfare of research participants."

Hansen is consulted by academic institutions around the country for her expertise in institutional-review issues.

Center leaders have played a critical role in Hansen's ability to develop a first-rate institutional review office and she paid thanks to Drs. Lee Hartwell and Robert Day, present and past president and director, in her acceptance speech.

"To achieve this level of success, you have to have support from the top," says Hansen. "We've been incredibly fortunate to get this kind of support from senior leadership."

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home of two Nobel Prize laureates, is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the development and advancement of biomedical technology to eliminate cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. Fred Hutchinson receives more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other independent U.S. research center. Recognized internationally for its pioneering work in bone-marrow transplantation, the center's four scientific divisions collaborate to form a unique environment for conducting basic and applied science. Fred Hutchinson, in collaboration with its clinical and research partners, the University of Washington Academic Medical Center and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in the Pacific Northwest and is one of 38 nationwide. For more information, visit the center's Web site at