Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD

Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD

Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD

  • Physician, Fred Hutch
  • Executive Vice President, Fred Hutch
  • Professor, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch
  • Metcalfe Family/Frederick Appelbaum Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, Fred Hutch
  • Professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine

Medical Oncology

“I envision a future where cancer can be managed instead of feared.”

— Dr. Appelbaum

Why do you work with patients who have blood cancers?

When I was a medical student in the 1970s, I read an article about the first attempts at bone marrow transplantation in humans, and I couldn’t put it down. It was like a lock and key — that’s what I wanted to do. A year later, I met a patient with a blood disorder who was in her thirties, and there wasn’t much we could do for her. It was so sad. I kept thinking that if we could just make bone marrow transplants work, her disease would be curable. My commitment to helping patients like her grew deeper; I eventually joined the team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that was turning this avant-garde procedure into a reality.

What's it like to work with you?

The greatest quality a physician can have is empathy. I know that it could easily be me on the other side of the table or bed, so I treat you the way I would want to be treated, the way I would want my most cherished loved ones to be treated: with respect, compassion and gentleness. It’s an incredible responsibility to care for patients with cancer. Being current on the research is very important, but your needs and wishes are really the focus. I consider it an honor to work with you to help you achieve your goals.

Provider Background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Blood cancers

I am a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and other blood cancers. In 1978, I was the lead author on the first paper to describe the successful use of autologous bone marrow transplantation, a therapy now used in more than 30,000 patients annually. I was also active in the development of Mylotarg™, the first antibody-drug conjugate (a type of targeted drug therapy) approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. Since then, my research has focused on refining stem cell transplant procedures and developing non-transplant approaches to blood cancers.

In addition to caring for patients and conducting clinical trials, I also serve as the executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In this role, I foster the growth of the organization and lead strategic research partnerships with the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. In 2019, I was one of 22 fellows elected to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy.

Diseases Treated

Acute Myeloid Leukemia


Myelodysplastic Syndrome




Education, Experience and Certifications

Undergraduate Degree
Dartmouth College

Medical Degree
Tufts University

University of Michigan Medical Center, Internal Medicine

Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 1977; Internal Medicine 1975, American Board of Internal Medicine


All news
Dr. Fred Appelbaum receives Lifetime Achievement award Medical pioneer and longtime Fred Hutch leader honored by American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy February 19, 2023
Blood and Marrow Transplant Reunion returns to Fred Hutch Hundreds gather in Seattle to celebrate life, science and cancer survivorship July 19, 2022
Fred Hutch mourns sudden loss of Dr. Martin ‘Mac’ Cheever A long career devoted to bringing immunotherapies from bench to bedside September 28, 2021

Clinical Trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

View Clinical Trials


Many of our Fred Hutch doctors conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other doctors and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this Fred Hutch provider has written.

View Dr. Appelbaum's Publications

Your Care Team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.


Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

For the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with providers.

Email or call 206.667.2210