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Tip Sheet: Understanding breast cancer metastasis, genetic indicators of esophageal cancer – and announcing new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

SEATTLE — May 4, 2022 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center research findings and other news.

If you’re covering the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy’s annual meeting, May 16 -19, highlights from Fred Hutch researchers include:

  • In a plenary lecture for ASGCT’s Outstanding New Investigator Awards, Dr. Chris Peterson will discuss research in developing cell and gene therapy for HIV.
  • Dr. Jennifer Adair will describe global efforts to make gene therapies more accessible.
  • Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem will be recognized as ASGCT’s incoming president.

Contact media@fredhutch.org for help setting up interviews with experts.

Cancer research

New study identifies genetic changes in patients who progress to esophageal cancer
Researchers at Fred Hutch who study a precancerous condition of the esophagus (called Barrett’s esophagus or BE) are working to answer questions about how mutated cells can turn cancerous and ways to predict it. In work published in Nature Communications, the researchers revealed DNA changes in BE cells that indicate esophageal cancer can be spotted years before cancer develops.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Understanding the mechanics of breast cancer metastasis
Not all patients develop metastatic breast cancer, or MBC. But research at Fred Hutch found that 20% of early-stage breast cancer patients will develop metastasis, also known as stage 4 or secondary cancer, within 20 years of their original diagnosis. Two new studies from Dr. Cyrus Ghajar’s Lab published in Nature Cell Biology and Nature Cancer have provided potential answers to key questions about metastatic breast cancer.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

Major study links breast cancer treatment with increased risk of cardiovascular disease
A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that women receiving certain common therapies for breast cancer may be at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, other cardiovascular events, and death. Dr. Heather Greenlee, lead author of the study, hopes to raise awareness that women who are breast cancer survivors need to receive comprehensive and ongoing follow up care for cardiovascular risk.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Cancer Prevention

Do multivitamins and supplements like cocoa flavanols keep cancer, heart disease away?
Dr. Garnet Anderson, senior vice president and director of the Public Health Sciences Division, and the team at Fred Hutch’s Women’s Health Initiative are using data to get definitive answers on whether supplements improve health. New findings, released in a pair of WHI studies within the affiliated COSMOS Trial, aimed at determining the health benefits of a common multivitamin and a supplement with cocoa flavanols.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, crhudson@fredhutch.org

COVID-19

Latest Fred Hutch research on COVID-19 If you’re interested in learning more about this research, please contact: media@fredhutch.org

Awards and other notable stories

Drs. Harmit Malik and Steve Henikoff elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Two Fred Hutch investigators have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Harmit Malik and molecular biologist Dr. Steven Henikoff were honored for their innovative contributions to our understanding of fundamental biological processes. Malik studies how conflicts between genes with opposing functions shape how genes evolve, while Henikoff focuses on the structure, function and evolution of chromosomes, which are structures cells use to help organize and regulate their DNA.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Dr. Brenda Sandmaier named president of American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy
The American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, or ASTCT, announced Dr. Brenda M. Sandmaier as the ASTCT president in 2022-2023. Sandmaier is a professor in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch and professor of Medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, mwmcelro@fredhutch.org

Dr. David Hockenbery receives the 2022 Ali Al-Johani Award
Gastroenterologist Dr. David Hockenbery is this year’s recipient of the Dr. Ali Al-Johani Award, which is given to recognize individuals at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who provide exceptional medical care and compassion for their patients. Since 2001, the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division faculty have nominated a member for the award, which was established by a former leukemia patient.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, kwynn@fredhutch.org

Dr. Phil Greenberg becomes president-elect of American Association for Cancer Research
Fred Hutch immunologist Dr. Philip Greenberg has begun a year-long term as president-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research, setting the stage for him to lead the organization as president in 2023. Founded by doctors and scientists in 1907, AACR is the world’s largest peer organization of cancer researchers, with more than 50,000 members from 129 countries.
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

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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.