Basic science discoveries underlie the innovative cures and treatments we develop at Fred Hutch. Our research teams strive to understand the normal molecular functioning of cells as well as the disruption that causes complex diseases like cancer and HIV infection.
Founded in 1981, the Basic Sciences Division has since expanded to include more than 30 laboratory groups that explore topics as diverse as regulation of cell division and mechanisms controlling wound repair. Our research has yielded a number of landmark breakthroughs and scientific advances, including two Nobel Prize-winning discoveries that may inform new approaches to cancer treatment.
Grounded in a steadfast commitment to scientific excellence and bold creativity, the Basic Sciences Division encourages robust, ongoing collaboration among divisions, laboratories and clinical researchers.
Dr. Jesse Bloom and his lab studies the evolution of viruses. Bloom aims to understand how mutations in viral genes shape a pathogen’s ability to infect and spread. The lab uses computational biology and real-world data to build evolutionary models and examine different scales of viral evolution, from evolution within a single host to evolution on a global scale. In doing so, the lab addresses both fundamental and translational questions, helping lead to the development of more effective vaccines.
Dr. Michael Emerman and his lab studies how our cells interact with HIV and related retroviruses. The lab charts the course of viral evolution, examining how HIV adapted to humans from its origins as a primate retrovirus. Understanding ancient viral infections can give clues to our ability to resist — or succumb — to HIV. Insights into effective cellular antiviral defenses also shed light on avenues for development of potential future antiretroviral therapies.
Dr. Roland Strong and his lab use protein engineering and structural biology — capturing the 3D shape of proteins in detail — to better understand immune system function and improve vaccine development. The lab's work has shed light on the molecular barriers to developing effective vaccines and pointed to improvements in vaccine design for infectious diseases, including HIV.
Dr. Harmit Malik and his lab studies the evolutionary processes that drive our body’s interactions with viruses, including HIV as well as ancient viruses whose "genetic fossils" litter our genome. The lab's work has helped characterize the rapidly evolving interface between proteins on human cells and viruses, revealing gene variants that could influence our susceptibility to infection.
— Dr. Harmit Malik, evolutionary biologist