2022 Annual Report

Making Foundational Discoveries

Providing the foundation for curing cancer and other diseases by engaging in fundamental science

Basic research is at the foundation of all scientific discoveries, underlying the innovative cures and treatments developed at Fred Hutch. Founded in 1981, the Basic Sciences Division has continually evolved to be at the forefront of discovery, seeking to understand the fundamental underpinnings of our own biology as well as the dysregulations that cause disease.

A Message from Basic Sciences Director Dr. Sue Biggins

It is a memorable moment to be writing the first annual report from the Basic Sciences Division after the merger to become the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
 

 

This was a large effort to integrate the research and clinical efforts and the work in BSD continues to be critical to the mission of the new Fred Hutch. The year had many highlights including the long-awaited celebration of the 40th anniversary of the division.

Dr. Mark Groudine speaking at the Basic Sciences 40th Anniversary Celebration.
Dr. Mark Groudine speaking at the Basic Sciences 40th Anniversary Celebration.


Our cautious move to holding more in-person events meant we also had our first in-person division retreat in September at the Museum of Flight. It was great to hear about all the recent work from the division and to have more meaningful scientific interactions again. It was also fun to learn a lot of new facts about the faculty in the trivia game!

The winners of the retreat trivia game.
The winners of the retreat trivia game.


Our faculty continue to be recognized for their outstanding research achievements. A few highlights from 2022 include senior faculty members Jim Priess receiving the Gruber Genetics Prize and Harmit Malik being awarded the GSA Novitski Prize. Steve Hahn was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology and Harmit and Steve Henikoff were also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the U.S.’s oldest learned societies. The BSD junior faculty also had an extremely successful year. Melody Campbell was named a Pew Scholar, Meghan Koch and Jhimmy Talbot received Kenneth Rainin Foundation Innovator Awards, Aakanksha Singhvi received the Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Award in Neuroscience, Jhimmy Talbot received a DP2 award, Richard Adeyemi received an Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance grant, Manu Setty received a Brotman Baty Institute Catalytic Collaboration Award and a Translational Data Science IRC New Collaboration Award, and Akhila Rajan was awarded a seed grant from the Brain Research Foundation. Many of the division trainees also secured prestigious funding awards.

It is bittersweet to wish Drs. Linda Breeden and Mark Groudine well as they retire from the Hutch and become Emeritus faculty. Mark and Linda both made major contributions to our understanding of how the transcription of the genome is regulated, amongst other key scientific topics. The Mark Groudine Chair for Outstanding Achievements in Science and Service was awarded to Dr. Susan Parkhurst, one of Mark’s scientific collaborators and someone who has also contributed heavily to ensuring the success and culture of the division. While it is hard to have faculty leave the division, we are fortunate to continue to recruit outstanding new faculty. Richard Adeyemi joined last fall and we currently have an active search for a new junior faculty underway.

Finally, we are extremely fortunate to have received a $100K gift from John Delo and I want to express my deepest gratitude on behalf of the division. This comes at a time when the pressure of inflation is high and it will help to continue to catalyze basic science in the next year. I’d like to finish by also thanking our great administrative team who has worked tirelessly in 2022 to support our science. I very much look forward to 2023 and hearing about the newest breakthroughs from BSD!
 

Dr. Sue Biggins


Dr. Sue Biggins

Director of the Basic Sciences Division
Senior Vice President of Fred Hutch

Careers of Science and Service:
Celebrating Drs. Mark Groudine and Linda Breeden

This year we’ve had two of Basic Sciences’ most prominent faculty retire. We are grateful for their wealth of scientific discoveries and their service
to Fred Hutch and the division.

Dr. Mark Groudine
Groudine in the lab, c. 1988

Dr. Mark Groudine retires after four decades

Mark Groudine, MD, PhD, stepped back from a rich career at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center earlier this year to become professor emeritus. During his four decades at Fred Hutch, Groudine exemplified the organization’s breadth of scientific and clinical endeavors: While contributing fundamental discoveries about the interplay between DNA packaging, DNA’s 3D organization and gene expression, he also treated cancer patients as a radiation oncologist. And during his tenure as director of the Basic Sciences Division and two stints as acting president and director of Fred hutch, Groudine helped guide the organization’s scientific directions and shape its culture of excellence.

“Mark is the cornerstone, the foundation of our institution’s quality of science since its inception. I hope that his legacy will be that we never forget our origins, but remember how important advances in science are.” – Dr. D. Gary Gilliland, Fred Hutch President and Director Emeritus, who led Fred Hutch from 2015 to 2020.
Dr. Linda Breeden
Breeden in the lab, c. 1991

Geneticist and cell-cycle expert Dr. Linda Breeden retires

After joining the Basic Sciences Division in 1987, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center geneticist Linda Breeden, PhD, retired from a career spent untangling the intricacies of the factors that regulate the cell cycle, the series of steps a cell takes to divide into two new cells. Now a professor emerita, Breeden focused on the factors and DNA elements that turn on the genes needed to jumpstart the cell cycle in resting cells. After making notable contributions to the cell cycle field, Breeden pivoted and began studying how cells repudiate the cell cycle by entering the dormant state known as quiescence.

“Linda really, really loves science. I can’t think of a day that Linda wasn’t in her office with stacks of papers. She was a voracious reader. She would come and ask interesting questions or sometimes she would point out a paper in my field that I hadn’t seen, but she had.” – Dr. Sue Biggins, Basic Sciences Division Director.

Meet Our Newest Faculty Members

Over the previous few years we have recruited some of the brightest scientific minds in their fields. They have all already done phenomenal things, and we’re incredibly excited for what discoveries they’ll make next. Learn more about each of them below:

Dr. Melody Campbell

Dr. Melody Campbell

“No idea seems too big or too unattainable.” – Dr. Melody Campbell 

The Campbell Lab joined the division in 2020. Campbell was recruited to Fred Hutch for her expertise in cryogenic electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, a microscopy technique that allows scientists to study the structure of proteins in a more physiologic environment. She oversaw the creation of the Hutch’s cryo-EM core facility and serves as its scientific director. Using cryo-EM, Campbell has dramatically improved our understanding of integrins, proteins that help cells communicate and interact with their environments.

Dr. Manu Setty

Dr. Manu Setty

“I’m a strong believer in using technology as a driver for discovery.” – Dr. Manu Setty

The Setty Lab joined the division in 2021. Setty was jointly recruited to Basic Sciences, Fred Hutch’s Translational Data Science Integrated Research Center, and the Herbold Computational Biology Program for his multi-disciplinary expertise in using computational techniques to aid in the analysis of largescale datasets. Setty has used these techniques to identify gene networks that govern how non-specialized cells become specialized with distinct functions.

Dr. Nic Lehrbach

Dr. Nic Lehrbach

“I’m working to shed light on the mechanisms by which cancer cells can become resistant to proteasome inhibitor drugs.” – Dr. Nic Lehrbach

The Lehrbach Lab joined the division in mid-2021. Lehrbach works to understand how cells remove damaged or unwanted proteins, high levels of which are a feature of aging, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and many genetic disorders. By revealing the mechanisms of protein degradation, Lehrbach’s work may lead to new ways to treat these diseases.

Dr. Jhimmy Talbot

Dr. Jhimmy Talbot

“Our research might not only help to find new ways of treating gut infections, but also reveal new forms of therapy for malnutrition and metabolic disorders.” – Dr. Jhimmy Talbot

The Talbot Lab joined the division in 2021. Talbot’s research studies how interactions between neurons and immune cells in the gut can help the body balance its immunologic and metabolic trade-offs. His work has revealed how changes in diet or in the intestinal microbiota may lead to metabolic dysfunction and how neuroimmune interactions could be hijacked by microbes to enable infection.

Dr. Richard Adeyemi

Dr. Richard Adeyemi

“I’m working to find the Achilles heel of certain cancers that have genomic instabilities to discover how we can exploit their weaknesses to eliminate the cancer cells.” – Dr. Richard Adeyemi

The Adeyemi Lab joined the division in late 2021. Adeyemi studies how our cells maintain the integrity of their DNA, both during replication and in response to events like viral infection and chemotherapy. His work provides a deeper understanding of DNA repair mechanisms and the development of novel therapies for cancer, infections, aging and genetic disease.

Basic Sciences Event Highlights

This year we began to start hosting in-person events again, including a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Basic Sciences Division, our annual retreat, and the October pumpkin carving contest.

The Division Celebrates its 40th Anniversary

The 2022 Basic Sciences Annual Retreat

Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest

Updates From Our Labs

2022 was full of many highlights from all the labs in Basic Sciences.

Dr. Richard Adeyemi

Adeyemi Lab

Dr. Jihong Bai

Bai Lab

Dr. Sue Biggins

Biggins Lab

Dr. Jesse Bloom

Bloom Lab

Dr. Robert Bradley

Bradley Lab

Dr. Roger Brent

Brent Lab

Dr. Linda Buck

Buck Lab

Dr. Melody Campbell

Campbell Lab

Dr. Jon Cooper

Cooper Lab

Dr. Robert Eisenman

Eisenman Lab

Dr. Michael Emerman

Emerman Lab

Dr. Steve Hahn

Hahn Lab

Dr. Emily Hatch

Hatch Lab

Dr. Steve Henikoff

Henikoff Lab

Dr. Meghan Koch

Koch Lab

Dr. Nic Lehrbach

Lehrbach Lab

Dr. Harmit Malik

Malik Lab

Dr. Cecilia Moens

Moens Lab

Dr. Susan Parkhurst

Parkhurst Lab

Dr. Jim Priess

Priess Lab

Dr. Akhila Rajan

Rajan Lab

Dr. Mark Roth

Roth Lab

Dr. Manu Setty

Setty Lab

Dr. Aakanksha Singhvi

Singhvi Lab

Dr. Gerry Smith

Smith Lab

Dr. Barry Stoddard

Stoddard Lab

Dr. Roland Strong

Strong Lab

Dr. Rasi Subramaniam

Subramaniam Lab

Dr. Jhimmy Talbot

Talbot Lab

Dr. Toshi Tsukiyama

Tsukiyama Lab

Credits & Contact Info

Written by Matthew Ross and Sabrina Richards. Photography by Robert Hood/Fred Hutch News Service, and Luna Yu.

Questions? Contact mtross@fredhutch.org