Tip Sheet: New research to improve immunotherapy, updates on cancer prevention strategies, preparing for endemic COVID-19 — and Weintraub graduate awards announced

SEATTLE — March 3, 2022 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news.

Cancer research

How does leukemia escape from immunotherapy?
A new study by a Fred Hutch team highlights one way an aggressive leukemia can wriggle its way free of targeted attack by a high-tech strategy for immune-based therapy. Based on these insights, the researchers have designed what they hope will be an improved version of the experimental therapy that will help more people in the future.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Science Says: Renew, refocus, reduce risk
At the virtual Science Says community event, Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Thomas J. Lynch and panelists, Dr. Jonathan Bricker, Dr. Anne McTiernan and Dr. Marian Neuhouser, talked about how to fine-tune behaviors — especially diet, exercise and smoking — to lower our risk of cancer and other diseases.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org


Cancer, COVID-19 and proceeding with caution
As the U.S. enters its third year of the pandemic, mask mandates are lifting. But cancer patients undergoing treatment, organ transplant recipients and an estimated 7 to 10 million immunocompromised Americans aren’t always able to produce adequate antibodies from vaccines and boosters, making them more susceptible to infection and death from COVID-19. Experts in infectious diseases, cancer patient advocates and cancer survivors share their thoughts on the future of COVID-19 for the immunocompromised.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Team of top researchers prepares for endemic COVID-19
Infectious disease experts at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington have been awarded $15 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to explore the transformation of COVID-19 from a fast-growing pandemic to an endemic disease. Over the next three years, the team members will work on finding new approaches to tracking, preventing and treating the disease among the global population.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Coronavirus’ distant past reveals ancient roots of trait that could help them jump species
A new Fred Hutch study published in Nature shows how the ability to bind ACE2 — a crucial trait in species-jumping coronaviruses — could be a more widespread possibility than previously thought. The study suggests that to safeguard against other pandemics, scientists should broaden the geographic surveillance to more widely monitor for viruses with spillover potential.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Diversity, equity and inclusion

New Fred Hutch initiative to foster inclusivity in science and health via art and dialogue
Fred Hutch announced the new Public Art and Community Dialogue Program and is inviting diverse artists and artist teams to apply. This effort to commission artworks is meant to express the Hutch’s message of solidarity with each artist’s community and to stand as a tangible example of the center’s dedication to building a more equitable world by making science more inclusive.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Awards and other notable stories

Fred Hutch announces 2022 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award recipients
Fred Hutch has announced the 2022 recipients of the annual Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in graduate studies in biological sciences in honor of the late Dr. Harold Weintraub. The 13 awardees study a range of biological topics including rapid evolution in fungi, metabolic determinants of cell identity, structures of animal behavior via deep learning and neuroimmune interactions in zebrafish.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Dr. James Priess shares Gruber Genetics Prize
Developmental biologist Dr. James Priess has received the 2022 Gruber Genetics Prize, awarded by the Gruber Foundation at Yale University. The $500,000 prize, which Priess shares with Drs. Ruth Lehmann and Geraldine Seydoux, recognizes the researchers’ pioneering discoveries regarding molecular mechanisms involved in embryonic development.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Dr. Steven Hahn elected to American Academy of Microbiology
Dr. Steven Hahn has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology. Hahn, a professor of the Basic Sciences Division, studies the components of the molecular machines that make messenger RNA, or mRNA, the molecules that transmit the information in our genes to the protein-building factories in our cells, and how they work together.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Dr. Christopher Li receives the Helen G. Edson Endowed Chair for Breast Cancer Research
Epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Li was recently selected as the inaugural recipient of the Helen G. Edson Endowed Chair for Breast Cancer Research at Fred Hutch. This endowed chair will support Li’s work to develop better methods for breast cancer detection and his research on preventing metastatic recurrence. Since joining the Hutch faculty in 2002, Li has studied connections between breast cancer and lifestyle factors as well as ways to overcome health care disparities.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Dr. Andrew Hsieh elected member of American Society for Clinical Investigation
Molecular biologist and oncologist Dr. Andrew Hsieh was elected in the 2022 class of members of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Hsieh has been at the forefront of efforts to look beyond DNA to reveal other cellular processes that can drive cancer development and progression, particularly in prostate and bladder tumors.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Science spotlight
Science Spotlight is a monthly installment of articles written by postdoctoral fellows at Fred Hutch that summarize new research papers from Hutch scientists. If you’re interested in learning more or covering these topics, contact: media@fredhutch.org

●      Genomic attributes predict cancer treatment responsiveness

●      Stabilization or degradation? A long-standing Myc model amended

●      LinE proteins lead the way in DNA break hotspot determination

●      Does location matter? Cancer and COVID-19

●      Antibody, how do I escape thee? Let me count the ways.

●      Leading the way: BLEAT, a novel HLA-B Leader Assessment Tool

●      Can sleep problems influence cancer diagnosis and ICI treatments?

●      Medical tourism and cervical cancer screening among immigrant women

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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 and the COVID-19 Prevention Network.