Uganda

UCI-Fred Hutch Collaboration

In 2008, Fred Hutch launched a partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala, Uganda, the first comprehensive cancer facility in a country with approximately 43 million people. The leading causes of cancer death among Ugandan males and females are Kaposi sarcoma and cervical cancer, respectively. The two groups hardest hit by cancer are children under age 12 and middle-aged adults. Nearly one-third of patients diagnosed with cancers are infected with HIV.

Our original research focus in Uganda included discovering and understanding infection-related cancers — including lymphoma associated with Epstein-Barr virus, sarcomas associated with HIV, and cervical cancer due to persistent HPV infection — and has evolved to include other cancers, including breast cancer, that are contributing to escalating cancer rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our investigators in Uganda collect data from a large number of patients at a single site, which would be impossible in places like the United States, where infection-related cancers are less common and more widely dispersed. Learn more about the UCI-Fred Hutch Collaboration.

Research Areas

At the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre, our multidisciplinary research teams of physicians, clinical researchers, basic research scientists, epidemiologists, pathologists, and research and administrative staff are engaged in more than 30 studies that investigate five types of cancers and six types of viruses associated with cancer:

Cancers:

Kaposi sarcoma
Cervical cancer
Breast cancer
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, including pediatric Burkitt lymphoma
Hodgkin lymphoma

Viruses:

HIV
Epstein-Barr virus
Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus
Herpes simplex viruses
Human papillomavirus
Hepatitis B

A World-Class Cancer Center in Uganda

With our Ugandan partners and support from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program, we built a state-of-the-art facility for research, training, and clinical care on the UCI campus — the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre, which opened in May 2015. Its three-color brick exterior was designed to match the buildings on the Fred Hutch Seattle campus. 

Features of the more than 16,700-square-foot facility include:

  • Training center
  • Research labs
  • Molecular diagnostics lab with DNA sequencing capability 
  • Histopathology lab
  • Biorepository 
  • Biosafety level 2 lab
  • Planned immunology and genomics labs 
  • UCI’s adult Kaposi sarcoma, gynecologic oncology, adult hematologic malignancy, and pediatric oncology outpatient clinics

In November 2020, the UCI-Fred Hutch Collaboration completed the construction of the new ground-level, adding over 3,800 sq. ft. The new space will house a remarkable biorepository — with more than 150,000 biospecimens from a wide range of viral infections, host immunity, and cancers, as well as a dedicated research records archive and collaborative office space. The Collaboration has plans to open immunology and genomics labs. 

In late 2020, the Collaboration began participating in Uganda’s National Testing Program and performs SARS-CoV-2 testing at the facility. As of the end of September 2021, the laboratory team has reported over 3,200 tests and is averaging <24 hours to turnaround results. 

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Molecular Diagnostics

The laboratory equipment is maintained in accordance with Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and CAP standards. In addition to the standard laboratory basic equipment, the Molecular diagnostics is also equipped with:

  • Sigma 4-16K Refrigerated Centrifuge fitted with a custom Qiagen rotor for high-through put DNA extraction
  • QIAexcel, QIAcube, and Qubit instrument are available for expedited and controlled nucleic acid and protein extraction and quantification at an ultra-sensitive level
  • Eppendorf Master Cycler Pro Thermocycler
  • Illumina MiSeq DNA sequencer & next-generation controlled environment
  • Cephid 16-Cartridge GeneXpert
  • ABI 7900 thermocycler, in addition to two new 7500 systems 
Histopathology Laboratory

The pathology 1,000-square foot laboratory includes stations for grossing and staining tumor biopsies, as well as a multi-headed microscope with telepathology capabilities. In addition to the standard laboratory basic equipment, the histopathology laboratory is also equipped with the following modern instruments:

  • Recycler
  • 2 fume hoods
  • Cryostat
  • Manual and automated stainer
  • Nikon 50i multi-headed teaching microscope scope with camera
  • 2 Leica microtomes
  • 1 Leica cryostat
  • 2 Leica embedding stations
  • Saikura multistainers and paraffin processing units 
Biosafety Level 2

The UCI-FHCC BSL-2 suite features more than 1,000 sq. feet of space for the conduct of cancer research and is equipped with an autoclave. Any work with intact HIV virus, including all strains of HIV and SIV, is conducted in the BSL-2.  The BSL-2 suite on-site is equipped to handle the dissection of tumors to single-cell suspensions with functioning CO2 incubator capabilities. To ensure the safe use of these viruses and to comply with the blood borne pathogen standard, the UCI-FHCC has a designated suite on the third floor to accommodate the robust infection related research that is being conducted and slated for the future.  The UCI-FHCC building operates in conjunction with the Fred Hutch Institutional Biosafety Committee regulations as well as in country standards of Uganda. 

Biorepository

The UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre houses a state-of-the-art biorepository that has been curated since the inception of the UCI-Fred Hutch Collaboration over 15 years ago. The biorepository offers an unprecedented opportunity for one-of-a-kind collaborations and research.  The biorepository is managed and operated by the HCRI-Uganda laboratory team and HCRI-Uganda Laboratory Director.

  • Approximately 600 sq ft space located on the sub-level of the UCI-FHCC
  • Hosts over approximately 150,000 biospecimens with the capacity to grow in Kampala, Uganda and Seattle, WA, USA.
  • Specimens are derived from a wide range of viral infections and cancers from both adult and pediatric patients presenting to the Uganda Cancer Institute; including but not limited to:       
    • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma  
    • Breast Cancer
    • Cervical Cancer
    • Kaposi sarcoma
    • Burkitt Lymphoma
    • Heme malignancies 
    • HIV, KSHV, Afebrile infectious disease specific specimens
  • Types of specimens include:
    • Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs)
    • Oral Swabs
    • Plasma
    • Tumor Biopsies
    • Normal Adjacent Tissue
    • Optimal Cutting Temperature (OCT) Blocks
    • Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-embedded Tissue Blocks (FFPE)
    • Histopathology slides (unstained and stained)
    • Rectal Swabs
    • Cervical Swabs
    • Extracted Nucleic Acid
  • Controlled by biometric fingerprint access and a 24/7 electronic monitoring system in place with an on-site liquid nitrogen (LN2) generator plant.
  • Equipped with oxygen sensor and safety strobe light and relay card that interfaces with our HVAC system for safety and meets all accreditation guidelines and recommendations for safety and monitoring.
  • UCI-FHCC houses additional -80s, -20s, 4 degree refrigerators and LN2 dewers for short-term specimen storage and daily reagent access on the third floor. The biorepository is designed for long-term specimen storage and archiving which includes 5, -80s, 2, -20s, 4, 4 degree refrigerators, 3 LN2 dewers, 2 LN2 full size tans, 1 LN2 source, 1 Flammable cabinet and 1 LN2 Generator onsite with the capacity to grow by at least double.
  • The Laboratory staff have developed shipping protocols for the efficient transfer of specimens to North America on either dry ice or liquid nitrogen and hold annual import permits for the US CDC, the National Drug Authority of Uganda and additional international permits as needed.
Biometric access and security camera - door to access the biorepository

Biometric access

Freezers in the biorepository and portable LN2 storage

Freezer capacity

The biorepository space is equipped with an oxygen sensor and safety strobe light, a relay card that interfaces with our HVAC system

Safety and monitoring

Freezers  with a real-time temperature and humidity monitoring system that logs all temperature data

Real-time temperature monitoring

Biometric access

Door to the biorepository has biometric access and a security camera 

Training Ugandan Cancer Specialists

Our training program aims to cultivate the next generation of global oncology leaders in low- and middle-income countries. Over the past decade and a half, we have provided long-term cancer-related training to 14 Ugandan fellows and conducted numerous research and cancer training sessions in Uganda.

Latest UCI-Fred Hutch Collaboration News

All news >
Uganda hospitals receive much-needed COVID-19 supplies from Seattle area Donation of personal protective equipment from Fred Hutch, local community aids health workers in hard-hit country July 23, 2021
'Tissues are data' How biorepositories — and their people behind the scenes — enable next-gen data science March 20, 2021
In Uganda: Treating twin threats of HIV and cancer Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation visits Hutch researchers in Kampala August 6, 2019
Raquel Sanchez named managing director of Global Oncology Research administrator brings 20 years of experience to Seattle- and Kampala-based teams July 10, 2019