Fred Hutch/SCCA transplant rates among best in U.S.

Nobel Prize-winning transplant program receives top recognition four years in a row.
Group photo of attendees at reunion at Fred Hutch for bone marrow transplant patients in 2015
Former transplant patients gathered for a reunion at Fred Hutch in 2015 Photo by Robert Hood / Hutch News Service

The Fred Hutch Bone Marrow Transplant Program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has earned recognition by the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research for outperforming its expected one-year survival rates for allogeneic transplant patients —those who receive donated adult blood-forming stem cells.

The Fred Hutch-SCCA BMT program was among 9 percent of stem cell transplant programs nationwide — 17 of 179 — that were placed in this top ranking, according to CIBMTR’s 2016 Transplant Center-Specific Survival Report. The annual report is based on survival outcomes gathered over a three-year period from the National Marrow Donor Program registry.

“Our consistently high survival rate is a tribute to the excellence of the bench-to-bedside medicine practiced by the partnership of Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Center Alliance,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, the Hutch’s president and director. “Because of the pioneering work done here in Seattle, bone marrow transplants have saved tens of thousands of lives worldwide. We expect to make these treatments even more successful as we continue to research the relationship between cancer and the immune system and translate these discoveries into the clinic.”

The Fred Hutch Bone Marrow Transplant Program has been a leader in the clinical use of bone marrow and stem cell transplantation for more than 40 years and has performed more than 14,000 bone marrow transplants — more than any other institution in the world.

Stem cell transplantation uses blood-forming cells from a donor who may or may not be related to the patient. Stem cell transplants, including bone marrow transplants, are used to treat a range of leukemia and lymphoma types, as well as other diseases such as severe aplastic anemia and sickle cell disease.

Comparing transplant centers

To arrive at its findings, CIBMTR independently examined the survival rates of 23,004 transplant patients treated for blood cancers at U.S. centers in the National Marrow Donor Program network. The reporting period for the 2016 report covered Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2014. During this three-year period, 747 allogeneic transplants were performed at SCCA and met the criteria for the study. The report, published annually, is required by federal law and is designed to provide potential stem cell transplant recipients, their families and the public with comparative survival rates among transplant centers.

Of the 179 centers surveyed, 139 (78 percent) were within predicted confidence limits, 23 (13 percent) were below predicted lower confidence limits (under-performing) and 17 (9 percent) were above predicted upper confidence limits (over-performing). For four consecutive years, the Fred Hutch BMT Program at SCCA has exceeded one-year survival expectations for patients given allogeneic transplants. Only four other programs have received such a rating annually since 2013.

“We are extremely pleased to see that patients receiving a transplant at SCCA can consistently expect survival rates that are better than those reported for most other U.S. transplant centers,” said Dr. Marco Mielcarek, medical director for the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Program at SCCA, and associate member of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch. “Superior outcomes after allogeneic transplantation at our center are likely attributable to many factors: highly dedicated teamwork, decades of transplant experience, well-defined and evidence-based care standards, and ground-breaking research. These factors have led to incremental yet consistent improvements in efficacy and safety of stem cell transplantation. Our team is committed to further improving outcomes for our patients.”

Pioneers in Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation

Fred Hutch bone marrow and stem cell transplant pioneer Dr. E. Donnall Thomas won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1990 for his lifesaving research. Many of the current SCCA and Fred Hutch transplantation experts, as well as clinicians and researchers at other transplant programs around the world, were trained by Thomas, including Dr. Fred Appelbaum, the Hutch’s executive vice president and deputy director. A world expert in blood cancers, Appelbaum had also served as executive director and president of SCCA until Dec. 1, when he was succeeded by Dr. Nancy Davidson.

“For the fourth year in a row, our transplant program provided our patients with a higher chance of survival as compared to the vast majority of transplant centers nationwide,” said Appelbaum, who came to Fred Hutch in 1978 to work with Thomas to steadily improve the transplant process. “This reflects the outstanding work of SCCA and Fred Hutch researchers and staff, and we share this honor with them.”

Over the past four decades, Fred Hutch researchers have not only pioneered transplantation as a cure for many diseases but also have continued to refine the procedure, which has been performed on more than 1 million people worldwide. These refinements include improvements in infection control and the development of new treatments for post-transplant complications. Today, more than 50,000 patients worldwide are transplanted annually, including about 500 at SCCA.

The study’s findings reflect the extraordinary and long-standing dedication by the staff of SCCA and Fred Hutch to improve the outcomes of patients by continually refining transplantation to be a safer and more effective treatment.

SCCA’s success in helping patients survive a wide range of cancers continues to be acknowledged by National Cancer Data Base rankings. SCCA has ranked at the top of these patient survival rankings since 2002. Additionally, SCCA is ranked among the top 10 Best Hospitals in the Nation for Adult Cancer Treatment by U.S. News & World Report.


At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first National Cancer Institute-funded cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.


Seattle Cancer Care Alliance brings together the leading research teams and cancer specialists from Fred Hutch, Seattle Children’s, and UW Medicine – one extraordinary group whose sole purpose is the pursuit of better, longer, richer lives for our patients. Based in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, SCCA has six clinical care sites, including a medical oncology clinic at Evergreen Health in Kirkland, Washington; medical and radiation oncology clinics at UW Medicine/Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, as well as Network affiliations with hospitals in five states. For more information about SCCA, visit


Jonathan Rabinovitz
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
O: 206.667.6906
M: 206.658.7612

Karen Brandvick-Baker
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
O: 206-288-7239