Human Biology Research Programs

Fred Hutch research is performed across divisions, with many Human Biology faculty holding joint appointments in Basic Sciences, Clinical Research, and Public Health Sciences, as well as affiliations with various University of Washington programs.

Human Biology labs are researching how cells, pathogens and genetics affect the way diseases spread, mutate, replicate and survive. We are also discovering how to fight these diseases at a molecular level, paving the way for more effective disease management, treatments, and ultimately, cures.

Cancer Biology and Differentiation

Human Biology researchers are studying the cell structure and function and how cell division is regulated in normal and abnormal cells, cellular and molecular mechanisms by which tumor cells invade, circulate and metastasize as clusters of cells. This knowledge leads to the development of new cancer treatment strategies. We are also exploring techniques to investigate tissue-specific signaling networks, identify molecular targets for drug discovery and determine new uses for existing medicines.

Pathogenic Viruses and Bacteria

Our researchers are working to understand the mechanism of viral and bacterial infections and the role they play in the development of cancer and other diseases. Efforts are focused on studies of the human papillomavirus and how it contributes to cancer, the identification of antiviral genes and proteins and to better understand how HIV evades the human immune system and the bacterial pathogen Helicobacter pylori, to determine how it is capable of maintaining a long-term infection in the human stomach, as well as the molecular relationship between bacterium and host.

Genetics, Genomics and Metabolism

Much of our research is focused on gaining knowledge of genetic components to advance our understanding of how cancer develops and the genes and pathways that can be used for the development of targeted cancer therapies.

Research Labs

Avgousti Lab

The Avgousti Lab uses major advancement in sequencing technologies and the expansion of the field of epigenetics to investigate the mechanisms by which viruses hijack chromatin. Their goal is to advance basic understanding of viral manipulation of chromatin and uncover new aspects of chromatin biology.

Berger Lab

The Berger Lab investigates the variations in cancer alleles to determine drug targets and biomarkers for more effective immune-based treatments.

Beronja Lab

The Beronja Lab studies molecular and cellular mechanisms that are essential for tissue growth during development and tumorigenesis. The goal is to identify genes and gene pathways to use as targets in cancer therapy, with a particular focus on those that regulate the balance between stem cell renewal and differentiation.

Cheung Lab

The Cheung Lab explores the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which tumor cells invade, circulate and metastasize as clusters of cells, to guide new therapies in metastatic breast cancer.

Clurman Lab

The Clurman Lab studies how cell division is regulated in normal cells and how abnormal control of cell division leads to cancer. By studying these mechanistic insights in tumor formation, they hope to develop new cancer treatment strategies.

Emerman Lab

The Emerman Lab studies the molecular interactions between HIV and its host cells throughout evolutionary history. Their goal is to identify antiviral genes and proteins and to better understand how HIV evades the human immune system.

Galloway Lab

The Galloway Lab studies the mechanisms by which human papillomaviruses contribute to cancer, with an emphasis on those most likely to progress to cervical cancer. They work to understand the natural history of genital HPV infections and why only a small subset of women infected with high-risk HPVs develop cancer.

Geballe Lab

The Geballe Lab focuses on the functions and mechanisms of genes encoded by large DNA viruses, such as cytomegalovirus and vaccinia virus. They study how these genes promote viral growth by blocking host cell defenses.

Ghajar Lab

The Ghajar Lab explores how microenvironments in tissues regulate dormancy and growth of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs), and their role in conveying chemoresistance to dormant DTCs. The goal is to develop treatments that eradicate dormant DTCs before they can metastasize.

Gujral Lab

Gujral Lab scientists study how networks of signaling proteins are wired in different cell types and how they influence response to growth factors or cytotoxic agents. They’re developing new techniques to investigate tissue-specific signaling networks, identify molecular targets for drug discovery and determine new uses for existing medicines.

Hatch Lab

The Hatch Lab studies the structure and dynamics of the nuclear envelope to understand how changes and instability in this compartment cause human genetic diseases and drive cancer formation. The team employs a combination of fluorescent microscopy, biochemistry and genomics tools.

Hockenbery Lab

The Hockenbery Lab studies the programmed cell death pathways defective in many cancer cells and the role of cancer-cell metabolism in apoptosis, oncogene functions, and environmental/dietary risk factors — including excess supply of nutrients. After identifying cancer-selective targets, they carry out small-molecule screens for inhibitors to identify lead compounds as anticancer agents.

Holland Lab

The Holland Lab focuses on the molecular basis of brain tumors and the development of new targeted treatment approaches. They’ve developed mouse models of brain cancer that mimic disease behavior in patients, leading to clinical trials in glioma patients.

Hsieh Lab

The Hsieh Lab studies how the deregulation of protein synthesis control determines the fate of epithelial cells in tumor initiation and progression. Their long-term goal is merging fundamental discoveries in translational control biology with the clinical needs of cancer patients.

Kemp Lab

By studying genetic biomarkers of cancer cells, researchers determine new drug targets for multiple cancer types, including ovarian, breast, and pancreatic.

Kugel Lab

Kugel Lab scientists study the developmental pathways and epigenetic reprogramming of pancreatic cancer — one of the most lethal human malignancies.

Lampe Lab

The Lampe Lab investigates the control of cell growth both at the biological/mechanistic level and through cancer biomarker discovery. Researchers study the cell biology connecting gap junctions and intercellular communication (GJIC) with the control of cell growth, the cell cycle and how the relationship is disrupted during carcinogenesis.

Lee Lab

The Lee Lab examines molecular drivers and biological properties of prostate and bladder cancer to identify targets for new and effective treatments. Research technologies include mouse and human epithelial transformation systems, functional genomics, multi-omic data integration, high-throughput screening, small molecule drug discovery, and immuno-oncology.

MacPherson Lab

Scientists investigate how mutated genes drive tumorigenesis using next-generation sequencing approaches, with a specific focus on the genes that alter chromatin.

Nelson Lab

The Peter Nelson Lab researches the molecular, cellular and physiological events that lead to cancer initiation and progression. They investigate hormonal carcinogenesis and prostate cancer with the goal of developing new strategies for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.

Overbaugh Lab

The Overbaugh Lab studies the mechanisms of HIV-1 transmission and pathogenesis. As part of a larger team of researchers in both Seattle and Kenya scientists have opportunities to engage in studies of viral evolution, virus-host cell interactions, and viral immunology within the context of international collaboration.

Paddison Lab

The Paddison Lab uses functional genomics to probe the underlying biology of normal and cancerous stem/progenitor cells. They identify and characterize gene products affecting stem cell self-renewal, differentiation, proliferation or survival through the use of CRISPR-Cas9 and RNAi technologies.

Porter Lab

The Porter Lab focuses on the molecular events in both normal and cancer cells associated with the initiation and progression of human cancer, particularly breast and ano-genital cancers. They also investigate the molecular profiles that distinguish different types of cancer or determine an individual's cancer risk.

Reid Lab

The Reid Lab is focused on understanding the evolutionary dynamics of neoplastic progression and the mechanisms by which environmental exposures affect the evolution of clones that lead to the development of esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with Barrett's esophagus.

Saha Lab

The Saha Lab uses a comprehensive set of model systems, researchers can better understand the fundamental pathogenic mechanisms of liver carcinogenesis and identify new targeted therapies for specific genetic subsets of this disease.

Salama Lab

The Salama Lab studies the gastric bacterial pathogen Helicobacter pylori, which infects half the world's population and can cause ulcers and gastric cancer. Scientists are trying to determine how H. pylori is capable of maintaining a long-term infection in the human stomach, as well as the molecular relationship between bacterium and host.

Simon Lab

The Simon Lab conducts mechanistic studies to understand the biology and pharmacology of lead compounds. They explore ways to improve compound activity through chemical synthesis of analogs through an interdisciplinary approach ranging from chemical synthesis and medicinal chemistry to genetics and cell biology.

Sullivan Lab

The Sullivan Lab uses mass spectrometry, isotopic tracing, metabolic flux measurements and cancer models to broadly understand how metabolism supports cell proliferation and survival. By exploiting the metabolic differences between normal cells and cancer cells they hope to discover new approaches to improving cancer therapy.

Tapscott Lab

The Tapscott Lab studies gene transcription and expression in normal development and diseases, particularly rhabdomysarcomas and human muscular dystrophies. Other research areas include gene and cell therapies for muscular dystrophy, and the biology of triplet repeats and their associated diseases.

Vasioukhin Lab

The Vasioukhin lab studies the mechanisms and significance of cell polarity and cell adhesion in normal mammalian development and cancer. With a significant interest in the mechanisms responsible for initiation and progression of human prostate cancer, scientists study cells in their normal microenvironment.