Research

Interior of a medical lab

Collaboration drives our research and makes extraordinary discoveries possible. We are proud of collaborations within the UW and Fred Hutch, as well as with colleagues across the nation and globe.

This is unpublished

Faculty Research Activity

  • The size and breadth of our own faculty enable unique, internal research partnerships.
  • Our faculty is connected nationally and internationally through leadership in the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the World Marrow Donor Association, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and others. 
  • The majority of our faculty members have joint appointments in scientific research departments at the University of Washington or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
  • A quarter of our faculty members have Ph.D.s, encouraging cross-fertilization with related scientific fields.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are the critical link between lab research and approved therapies.

  • The majority of our faculty members are involved in clinical trials, often in collaboration with many other institutions.
  • Our faculty lead Fred Hutch’s Phase 1 Program to develop and implement the most innovative clinical trials—the first step in testing new therapies in humans.

Select Research Topics

genome sample graphic

Genomically-driven, personalized medicine for treatment of blood diseases and cancer

We combine cell biology, molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, nanomedicine and bioinformatics to develop new gene therapies. An example is gene editing—“molecular scissors”--for many diseases caused by defective genes, including cancers.

Doctor and patient discussing results

Outcomes of cancer therapy

Through the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research (HICOR), our faculty use outcomes data to improve prevention, detection, and treatment. HICOR also addresses the financial impact of cancer care and tests methods of helping patients and families reduce and manage debt.

Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation

Dr. E. Donnall Thomas received the Nobel Prize for pioneering this therapy. Recently our innovations have made transplants accessible more broadly—to patients from minority and marginalized communities and to older patients.

  • We led the international development of marrow banks and the campaigns to have a greater variety of potential donors.
  • Our faculty developed “mini-transplants” for fragile or older patients who would not be eligible for traditional transplants.
  • We continue to refine identification of the donor match points (HLA types) to maximize the possibilities of a successful match.
  • Our team pioneered umbilical cord blood transplant and, through cell expansion, made it clinically practical, extending transplants to patients without a traditional donor match.
  • Our risk-assessment model for acute myeloid leukemia informs therapeutic choices, especially for older or marginalized patients.
MDS James Vardiman, ASH image bank

Ensuring healthy new blood cells

We explore cellular and molecular mechanisms that permit quick and accurate creation of mature red cells and the glitches that result in anemia or myelodysplastic syndrome. We are testing the potential of small molecule competitive inhibitors that ensure healthy cells.

 

Person receiving a vaccine

Tumor vaccines

In conjunction with the UW Cancer Vaccine Institute, basic research has progressed to active clinical trials in vaccine therapy to prevent cancer recurrence.

Doctor with microscope

Cell-based immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to find and eradicate tumors.

  • Our teams developed some of the first CAR T-cell therapies, engineering patients' own T cells to target cancer cells. 
  • Our faculty led research on checkpoint inhibitors that teach our bodies’ immune cells to target and block cancer’s pathway.
Virus with antibodies

Antibody immunotherapy

Antibodies target cancer cells, sparing the normal, healthy cells in the body, greatly reducing side effects of radiation or drugs.

  • We explore a variety of monoclonal antibodies that bind to cancer cells to interfere with tumor growth.
  • Radioimmunotherapy, pioneered by our faculty, pairs radioactivity with targeted antibodies to deliver radiation directly to cancer cells.
  • Antibodies are combined with drugs to ensure that the drug toxicity is limited to the cancer cells.
Woman receiving breast cancer screening

Prevention of recurrence in breast cancer

Our faculty examine the role of hormones in breast cancer growth, how estrogen receptor genes are regulated by epigenetic factors, and how estrogen deprivation and other therapies trigger breast cancer cells to kill themselves through apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Blue Prostate Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Identification of BRCA mutations in metastatic prostate cancer

By understanding the relationship between mutations and prostate cancer, genetic screening identifies the most appropriate treatment for an individual patient. National collaboration through The Cancer Genome Atlas informs this research.

hematology research funds

 

Research news

May 29, 2024
American Society of Clinical Oncology awards
Congratulations to those who received 2024 Conquer Cancer grants and awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
May 15, 2024
Emily Liang receives Hartwell Innovation Fund award
These awards support high-risk/high-reward, cancer-focused projects led by young investigators at Fred Hutch or UW Medicine.
May 8, 2024
Mary (Nora) Disis named 2024 Inventor of the Year
Recognizing a UW researcher whose work in research, product development, and industry partnerships has major impacts on health.