Tip Sheet: Diversity in vaccine clinical trials, behind-the-scenes look at COVID-19 biostats, new cell therapy approved, plus meet ‘Megasphaera hutchinsoni’

Summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news

SEATTLE —  March 2, 2021 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news with links for additional background and media contacts.

March is Women’s History month. We’d like to honor Dottie Thomas, known as the “mother of bone marrow transplantation.” She spent years working as a research partner alongside her husband, Nobel Prize-winning Dr. E. Donnall Thomas. Read more about Dottie’s legacy at Fred Hutch here.

And save the date for our monthly public science event, Science Says Tuesday, March 23. We'll be talking with Hutch scientists about how they're supercharging cancer research with new tools and approaches. Please RSVP HERE by Monday, March 22. We will then provide instructions for how to join the conversation by computer, tablet, or phone.

Diversity in vaccine clinical trials

New study highlights lack of diversity and inclusion in vaccine clinical trials
A team of scientific experts, including Fred Hutch’s Drs. Steve Pergam and Michele Andrasik, are advocating for increased diversity in vaccine trials after publishing a new JAMA Network Open report that highlights a decade’s worth of disparities. Read a news release on the findings, and a related feature story on Andrasik’s community engagement efforts related to HIV and COVID-19 vaccine trials.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

COVID-19 modeling and biostatistics

There’s no crystal ball for modeling the pandemic
Fred Hutch mathematical modelers explain the challenges and limitations of their work to predict COVID-19 outcomes. From social media, to published work, these researchers talk about what they’ve learned along the way. Dr. Laura Matrajt shared how one tweet helped bring awareness to the pandemic. Work by other Fred Hutch experts who have contributed to modeling COVID-19 —  Drs. Joshua Schiffer, Elizabeth Halloran and Ruth Etzioni —  is also featured.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Biostatisticians draft blueprints for COVID-19 vax trials
For years, a group of biostatisticians including Drs. Peter Gilbert and Holly Janes have served at the Fred Hutch-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network, or HVTN, on the unfinished quest to find a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. When COVID-19 hit, they pivoted and became architects of clinical trials for vaccines designed to stop the spread of the disease.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Cell therapies

Fred Hutch statement regarding the FDA approval of CD19 immunotherapy, lisocabtagene maraleucel
Fred Hutch’s statement by Dr. David Maloney on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the chimeric antigen receptor immunotherapy, Breyanzi (lisocabtagene maraleucel or liso-cel), for the treatment of adults with relapsed or refractory (R/R) large B-cell lymphoma after at least two prior therapies.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

What's next for T-cell therapies: Q&A with Dr. Stanley Riddell
Dr. Stanley Riddell, an immunologist at Fred Hutch, carried out early CAR T-cell research that contributed to the development of this “living drug,” made by genetically engineering the patient’s own immune cells to target malignant blood cells.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Basic sciences

New bacterium named in honor of Fred Hutch
Researchers at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington, with colleagues in Pittsburgh and Boston, named the bacterium Megasphaera hutchinsoni in recognition of the Hutch’s long standing expertise in HIV research and in honor of the place where researchers first isolated it. The bacterium can be found in some women with bacterial vaginosis and it is known to boost the risk of contracting HIV.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Fundamental proteins that guide embryo development are co-opted by cancer
Fred Hutch scientists led by Dr. Harmit Malik identified a new protein that unexpectedly plays a role in this age-old tension. Unexpectedly, these insights into a fundamental biological process may also one day lead to new cancer treatments.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Fred Hutch announces 2021 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Award recipients
Thirteen graduate students in biological sciences from across the U.S. and internationally will receive the prestigious award, bestowed by Fred Hutch’s Basic Sciences Division for the past 22 years. Read about one of the recipients, Emma Wrenn, who is a graduate student at Fred Hutch studying cancer metastasis.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

A year of COVID-19

A year into the pandemic, we take a look at milestones and progress in understanding COVID-19:

  •  Our February public Science Says event, “Progress During the Pandemic,” featured COVID-19 experts Drs. Michele Andrasik, Trevor Bedford, Larry Corey, and Josh Schiffer. You can watch the video here.
  • Our COVID-19 timeline documents milestones in Fred Hutch research on the novel coronavirus.
  • Fred Hutch recently released our Annual Report: A Year of Overcoming Challenges, showing how the COVID‑19 pandemic created hurdles to cancer and other research. But it also provided an opportunity for Fred Hutch virology expertise, which has been developed over decades of work on bone marrow transplants and HIV.

Other notable news

Womens Health Initiative receives $72M extension grant to continue research

Hutch research helps launch new genomic medicine company

Dedicated supporters at the Heart of the Hutch

Working from home and showing the Heart of the Hutch


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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.