SEATTLE – Jan. 7, 2020 – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced today that Dr. Thomas J. Lynch Jr. will become the center’s new president and director. Lynch, a well-known cancer leader with expertise in solid tumor research, precision medicine and immuno-oncology, will join Fred Hutch Feb. 1.
Lynch has been a nationally recognized leader in academic medicine for more than three decades. He has served as chairman and CEO of Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, director of Yale Cancer Center, physician-in-chief of Yale’s Smilow Cancer Hospital, professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, chief of Hematology-Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
He was most recently chief scientific officer at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he led the company’s research and development efforts in cancer, cardiovascular disease, fibrosis and immunoscience. Lynch enhanced the company’s scientific depth, particularly in the area of translational immuno-oncology research resulting in new therapies and treatments for patients with both solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.
While at Massachusetts General Hospital, he was part of the research team that discovered how targeted therapies could dramatically change outcomes for lung cancer patients with mutations in the EGFR, or epidermal growth factor receptor, gene. This discovery helped to ignite deeper understanding of how molecular profiling can be a key tool in the development of new medicines to treat patients with lung cancer. Lynch’s role at the forefront of precision medicine — identifying the best treatments for patients based on the genetic makeup of their specific tumors — feeds his commitment to the role of scientific discovery in patient care.
Lynch’s career at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Yale and Mass General has been dedicated to creating and nurturing collaborative interdisciplinary teams. His work has received team science awards from both the American Association for Cancer Research and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
“When I learned Fred Hutch was searching for a new leader, I immediately knew where I wanted to be,” Lynch said. “The Hutch is legendary for being where breakthrough discoveries in basic science happen. This institution is unafraid to do what science is best at: taking bold, unconventional approaches to solving hard problems. The Hutch is well-positioned to make an enormous difference in how patients and caregivers manage cancer and related diseases,” he said. “In the next five years we’re going to make remarkable leaps. Technology and personalized diagnostics can accelerate our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of cancer. Based on the Hutch’s pedigree, the extraordinary researchers here who are committed to saving lives, and the proximity to Seattle’s thriving technology and life sciences community, I can’t imagine a more exciting place to be right now.”
Matt McIlwain, managing director at Madrona Venture Group and chair of the Fred Hutch board of trustees, said the executive search committee met with many highly qualified and diverse candidates, and it was immediately impressed by Lynch’s depth and breadth of leadership and expertise.
“We were reminded throughout our search process how highly respected Fred Hutch is in the cancer research and scientific communities. Our ability to recruit Tom Lynch to lead the Hutch reinforces that stature,” McIlwain said. “Tom is a highly respected scientist, physician and cancer center leader who will continue guiding the Hutch to even greater impact in the future. Tom knows he’s succeeding a bold and visionary leader and is eager to continue driving innovative basic research, facilitating prevention and clinical translation, pursuing industry and technology partner collaborations and advancing the Hutch’s mission of eliminating cancer.”
“Tom will be a remarkable leader for Fred Hutch,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, who since January 2015 has been at the helm of Fred Hutch. “Tom’s depth of experience in academic research, clinical care, cancer center leadership and his pharmaceutical industry experience provide an unprecedented perspective that will strengthen the link between Fred Hutch’s commitment to scientific excellence and our pursuit of delivering cures,” Gilliland said. “Perhaps most importantly,” he added, “Tom is a compassionate, approachable and values-based leader who is dedicated to ensuring research results are translated into accessible therapies and treatments for the patients who need them most.”
“The Hutch has a history of leaders who bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to the role,” said Sue Biggins, senior vice president and director of the Hutch’s Basic Sciences Division and member of the executive search committee. “In addition to his reputation as an international leader in oncology, Tom’s known for encouraging investments in basic research that help improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that lead to cancer and other diseases,” she said. “This relentless curiosity combined with his focus on the patient experience make him a natural fit for our culture.”
In 1995, he was a founding board member of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare which developed Schwartz Rounds, which are now adopted by more than 500 hospitals around the world. That experience remains one of the most important milestones of his career, he said. “Promoting the compassionate connection between patients and caregivers continues to be a focal point for my work.”
Lynch received his B.S. in biology from Yale College and his M.D. from Yale School of Medicine, both in New Haven, Connecticut. He completed his clinical training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and his medical oncology training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston.
Lynch is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. He has published more than 100 original scientific papers and authored or co-authored more than 90 review articles and book chapters.
Lynch will become the sixth president and director in Fred Hutch’s 45-year history. He is preceded by Drs. Gary Gilliland, Lawrence Corey, Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell, Dr. Robert Day, and Fred Hutch founder Dr. William Hutchinson.
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.