Fred Hutch gifted $78M for precision oncology research

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington state, will use the funds to establish the Stuart and Molly Sloan Precision Oncology Institute and accelerate the center’s precision oncology research.

WHY IT MATTERS

Fred Hutch’s work in precision oncology integrates fundamental biology, technology, immunology, data science and clinical experience into strategies to prevent, detect and treat cancer.

Stuart and Molly Sloan’s pledge: “To expand the development of precision therapies for more cancers and bring hope to everyone who is, unfortunately, experiencing cancer,” declared Stuart Sloan in the center’s announcement about the gift. 

Scientists can learn a tremendous amount about every cancer — including how to stop it — by sequencing a patient’s tumor, studying its unique metabolism, profiling the proteins it expresses, understanding the microenvironment it creates and tracking immune system responses.

“With recent developments, we have the scientific tools and expertise to expand precision oncology to more patients. This contribution also allows us to expand our lab space, which will then drive innovation and discovery at Fred Hutch for the next 20 to 30 years,” said Dr. Thomas J. Lynch, president and director of Fred Hutch, who holds an endowed chair.

Fred Hutch’s April 2022 merger with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which united research and patient care into a single organization, reportedly inspired the Sloans, who also help organize the annual Obliteride fundraiser, to make the gift.

“Miracles begin in the lab, and nowhere else is that truer than at Fred Hutch,” Sloan expressed, noting Fred Hutch’s breakthroughs in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy have benefitted cancer patients globally.

THE LARGER TREND

Precision oncology offers cancer patients more targeted therapies based on their unique cancers.

 “By using more tailored therapies targeting specific tumors in specific patients, we’ve had remarkable success in treating some cancers — but we need to do more,” Lynch said in the prepared statement.

Trends in electronic health record systems are streamlining genomics and other data to improve clinical decision-making. 

EHR giant Epic, for instance, has in recent months been partnering with other vendors to integrate precision medicine tools such as direct ordering for genetic tests and genetic profiling into clinical workflows.

At HIMSS 2022 in Orlando this past March, Dr. Joel Diamond of 2bPrecise said that after years of stalled promise, precision medicine is moving to the mainstream right now, particularly where cancer genomics is concerned. (AccessDX Holdings purchased 2bPrecise from Allscripts this past year.)

“What everyone knows is that prescribing medicine by trial and error just doesn’t work,” and there is a better way to address myriad health conditions, including behavioral health, prenatal care and others, said Diamond.

ON THE RECORD

“With recent developments, we have the scientific tools and expertise to expand precision oncology to more patients,” said Dr. Lynch. “This contribution also allows us to expand our lab space, which will then drive innovation and discovery at Fred Hutch for the next 20 to 30 years.”

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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