SEATTLE — Dec. 12, 2018 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will collaborate with the new Allen Institute for Immunology, a new division of the Allen Institute announced today. The new Institute will work directly with Fred Hutch and other leading clinical research organizations to better understand the dynamic balancing act of the human immune system in maintaining health and how it goes wrong when we’re ill.
The Allen Institute for Immunology’s goal is to improve human immune health and lay the groundwork for better ways to diagnose, treat and prevent immune-related diseases. In its initial phase, the Institute will focus on studies of two cancers, multiple myeloma and melanoma, and three autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, specifically, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The researchers will also seek a deeper understanding of the immune systems of healthy volunteers with the goal of determining what a “normal” immune baseline looks like and how to help patients return to that healthy state.
“By unraveling the mysteries of the dynamic immune system in healthy individuals and focusing the same cutting-edge tools on patients in various disease states, we believe we will find new ways to diagnose and ultimately treat disease,” said Thomas F. Bumol, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Allen Institute for Immunology. “We are looking at problems that have large unmet needs. Patients are not only suffering from these immune-based illnesses, patients are dying from some of these disorders, and we would like to change that.”
Fred Hutch will contribute expertise in cancer immunology and cancer immunotherapies, in which the immune system is harnessed to treat tumors. Initial efforts will focus on understanding the immune systems of patients with multiple myeloma, a currently incurable blood cancer in which immunotherapies are showing promise. The collaboration will also better enable a charting of the human immune system using big data and emerging technologies.
“Patients are all different. To be able to reveal the complexity of individual variation will really move the field forward and is one of the great strengths of the new institute,” said Dr. Stanley Riddell, one of the leaders of the new partnership and scientific director of the Hutch’s Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center.
The Allen Institute for Immunology will build off the model of large-scale team science established by the Allen Institute’s other research divisions and will work directly with samples and data from patients and healthy volunteers, thanks to a unique partnership with established research organizations. Fred Hutch joins Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason; the University of California San Diego; the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; and the University of Pennsylvania in collaborating with the Allen Institute for Immunology to accelerate a direct impact on human health.
The new Institute will be funded by a generous commitment of $125 million by Allen Institute founder, the late Paul G. Allen.
“Paul Allen always challenged us to go after the really hard problems, to do work that would have a significant impact in our scientific fields,” said Allan Jones, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Allen Institute. “Understanding the human immune system in detail and figuring out what goes wrong in disease is an incredibly complex but solvable problem. I’m thrilled to see us launch into this new area of complexity in biology with a real opportunity to directly impact human health.”
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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research 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.
About the Allen Institute for Immunology
The Allen Institute for Immunology (immunology.alleninstitute.org) is a division of the Allen Institute, an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit medical research organization, and is dedicated to understanding the dynamic balancing act of the human immune system in health and disease. The Allen Institute for Immunology will advance our fundamental understanding of the human immune system and will identify new therapeutic avenues for disease by employing a multi-disciplinary team approach in collaboration with leading research organizations, generating novel insights about cellular and molecular drivers of immune health and immune-related diseases. The Allen Institute for Immunology will be launched in 2018 with a contribution from founder and philanthropist, the late Paul G. Allen. The data and tools generated by the Allen Institute for Immunology will be publicly available online.