Dr. Jim Olson, a Fred Hutch pediatric brain cancer expert, hugs Karen Heric, the mother of one of his former patients, at Project Violet Family Appreciation Night Sept. 9 on the rooftop of the Robert M. Arnold Building on the Fred Hutch campus. The event drew about 100 of Olson’s former patients and family members.
Heric lost her 2 ½-year-old son, Brendan, to brain cancer 22 years ago. She attends the annual family night gatherings to celebrate his memory and Olson’s research. “It helps knowing that Brendan’s life had purpose,” she said.
Project Violet and related fundraising events have raised about $5 million since the “citizen scientist” program began in June 2013, allowing ordinary people to support groundbreaking work, including an “optides” drug discovery effort. Optides, short for “optimized peptides,” represent a new class of anti-cancer compounds that are engineered to attack cancer cells without harming the cells around them.