Global Health

Our Worldwide Impact

Cancer is a truly global epidemic, with rates rising dramatically in low- and middle-income countries and continuing to increase in wealthier countries. Across Fred Hutch, our cancer and infectious disease researchers are making discoveries and testing new diagnostics and therapies that can have potentially worldwide impact. This work increasingly focuses on ensuring that novel approaches are not only highly effective but also economically feasible, culturally appropriate and accessible in regions where resources are limited.

Our research includes work conducted by our Global Oncology program in sub-Saharan Africa and China as well as scores of other studies that span the globe from North and South America to Europe and Australia. In addition to research that focuses on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, we train oncology researchers in other countries, conduct outreach efforts to expand awareness of cancer and early detection, and foster international collaboration and data sharing in cancer research.

Reducing the Burden of Cancer and Other Diseases

Research on cancers that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries is an important priority at Fred Hutch. Many of those cancers are associated with infectious diseases such as viral hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV and human papillomavirus. We are also expanding our research portfolio to include other high-burden cancers in low- and middle-income countries, such as breast cancer, with studies focusing on cancer biology, diagnosis and treatments such as immunotherapy. In Uganda, our Global Oncology program has conducted more than 30 research studies and built a biorepository with over 160,000 specimens to better understand how to prevent, treat and ultimately cure virally mediated cancers. In partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute, we built the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre, a world-class research, training and outpatient care facility in Kampala that opened in 2015. Our Global Oncology program is also advancing collaboration between researchers at Fred Hutch and scientists in China, including research on cancer genomics, immunology and infectious diseases, through standing partnerships with Chinese institutions.

Fred Hutch administers the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, an international partnership with 30 research sites on five continents that is working to develop an effective HIV vaccine. We are an integral part of the Kenya Research Program, a world leader in interdisciplinary, collaborative HIV research. At the Seattle Malaria Clinical Trials Center, we test experimental vaccines and treatments for malaria, which kills more than 1 million people each year and increases the risk of a childhood cancer called Burkitt lymphoma.

We are also a leader in using novel quantitative approaches to answer scientific questions emerging from research in our labs and around the globe. We share our expertise in biostatistics, computational biology, epidemiology and mathematical modeling with partners and cancer research consortia worldwide, conduct large-scale meta-analyses, and maintain cell and DNA banks as shared resources.

Our Global Oncology Program

Launched in 2004, our Global Oncology program works to better understand and improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies for high-burden cancers in low-resource settings, including cancers caused by infectious diseases. Through our groundbreaking research and training activities in Uganda we are developing approaches that have the potential to be scaled up in low- and middle-income countries and around the world.

Campaigns to Reduce Disparities

Education and awareness are crucial to reducing disparities in cancer diagnosis, treatment and outcomes. Our efforts in this area include the Breast Cancer Initiative, a global campaign to reduce disparities in breast cancer outcomes for 2.5 million women by 2025; and the Breast Health Global Initiative, a global alliance that develops and implements economically feasible and culturally appropriate guidelines for breast health and cancer control in low- and middle-income countries.

Group photo of Participants at a global summit on breast health
Participants at a global summit on breast health.

Making Diagnostic Tools Available in Low-Resource Countries

Improving cancer diagnosis rates in low-resource parts of the world depends in large part on the availability of affordable diagnostic tools. Our innovations in this area include a low-cost method of testing for chronic myeloid leukemia, a blood cancer, using a drop of blood on a paper card. Through a Fred Hutch partnership with the Max Foundation and Novartis, the manufacturer of the leading CML drug, called Gleevec, doctors in 80 low- and middle-income countries can mail the test kits to Fred Hutch in Seattle for processing and patients diagnosed with CML can receive access to Gleevec at no cost.

 Leukemia researchers (from left) Lan Beppu, Dr. Olga Sala-Torra and Jordan Smith with a low-cost tool for diagnosing chronic myeloid leukemia.
Leukemia researchers (from left) Lan Beppu, Dr. Olga Sala-Torra and Jordan Smith with a low-cost tool for diagnosing chronic myeloid leukemia. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch

Providing Cutting-Edge Cancer Treatment

Patients come from around the globe to receive first-rate cancer treatment at Fred Hutch and , Seattle Children’s. Fred Hutch is consistently rated as one of the top cancer care centers in the country and continues to add faculty and treatment clinics. We also has one of the most active clinical trial programs in the world, with more than 450 clinical trials available to our patients.

The UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre in Kampala can accommodate 20,000 outpatient visits per year and serves a five-country region. Our partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute, the UCI-Hutchinson Collaboration, unites our expertise in leading large studies of cancer and infectious diseases with the UCI’s long history of achievement, including the first description of infection-related cancer and the first use of combination chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Dr. Charles Babutunga examines a young patients
Dr. Charles Babutunga examines a young patient at the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre. Photo by Jiro Ose / Fred Hutch

Training the Next Generation of Researchers

With more than 200 postdoctoral fellows from around the globe working in our labs, Fred Hutch plays a major role in training the next generation of cancer and infectious disease researchers. More than 40 percent of the research papers published by Fred Hutch scientists include at least one coauthor from outside the U.S.

We have also trained clinicians from around the world in bone marrow transplantation, a procedure that was pioneered at Fred Hutch more than 40 years ago under the direction of Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, who won a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work.

Since 2004, we have been helping to train the next generation of African medical professionals to address the rising cancer burden in low- and middle -income countries. Through our partnership with the UCI in Kampala, we trained more than a dozen Ugandan physician-scientists; we are now instructing nurses in oncology care and are training Ugandan researchers in the study of HIV-associated cancers and blood cancers. At our Cape Town Lab in South Africa, we are training African scientists in cutting-edge research techniques to support the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

Left: Uganda Cancer Institute's Dr. Victoria Walusansa at the UCI in Kampala, Uganda on July, 22, 2014. Dr. Walusansa was the first Ugandan doctor to be trained at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Right: Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, 1990 Nobel Laureate.
Left: Uganda Cancer Institute's Dr. Victoria Walusansa at the UCI in Kampala, Uganda on July, 22, 2014. Dr. Walusansa was the first Ugandan doctor to be trained at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Right: Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, 1990 Nobel Laureate.

Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch

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