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.
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:
Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, including pediatric Burkitt lymphoma
Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus
Herpes simplex viruses
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Door to the biorepository has biometric access and a security camera
-20 and -80 freezer capacity and portable LN2 storage
The biorepository is equipped with safety and monitoring systems
Freezers have a real-time temperature and humidity monitoring system that logs all temperature data
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.