Research Training

The University of Washington Medical Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Bloodworks Northwest are each world leaders in their own right in hematology and cancer research. The combination of these three institutions within our fellowship is quite powerful. Our research activities encompass internationally recognized programs which have been responsible for the development of widely used clinical treatments, including hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, novel targeted therapy for treating acute myelogenous leukemia, novel approaches to diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors, solid tumors and leukemias and a regional comprehensive survivorship program designated as one of only seven LIVESTRONG Survivorship Centers of Excellence in the United States.

Research Focus

Our interdisciplinary research program focuses on both clinical and basic research in hematology and cancer biology as well as therapeutic intervention. Our laboratory research primarily focuses on transplantation biology, immunology and adoptive immunotherapy, genetic engineering and gene therapy, solid tumor biology, experimental chemotherapy and mechanisms of drug resistance, the nature and control of normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Ongoing basic research within the hematology-oncology program is focused on developmental aspects of hematopoiesis, including hematopoietic stem cell expansion, immune reconstitution following hematopoietic stem cell transplant and molecular analyses of normal and malignant hematopoiesis; molecular analyses of bone marrow failure syndromes; developmental immunology and adoptive immunologic approaches to cancer therapy; neuro-oncology and solid tumor research including growth and differentiation of normal and malignant tissues and mechanisms of chemoresistance; and additional interdisciplinary research involving nanotechnology and molecular imaging for neurologic disease and solid tumor diagnosis, treatment, and response evaluation.

Our program is committed to the conduct of clinical research to identify new approaches to therapy for patients with malignant disorders and benign hematologic disorders. Clinical research investigations are ongoing in areas of bone marrow transplantation, general oncology, hematology, chemotherapy pharmacokinetic and pharmacogenetic interactions, cancer epidemiology, late effects of therapy, quality of life, palliative care. New agents in cancer treatment are being investigated through investigator-initiated clinical trials, pharmaceutical company trials and international and national consortia trials. The University of Washington and Fred Hutch-based faculty are national leaders in areas of novel approaches across the many areas of hematology and oncology. The University of Washington and Fred Hutch serves as one of the lead centers, as well as the statistical center, for the South West Oncology Group (SWOG) and an active participant in the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMT-CTN).

Laser Spectroscopy

Laser spectroscopy at Fred Hutch’s Nelson Lab, part of the Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE

Research Experience

The last 24 months of the UW/Fred Hutch Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program are dedicated to research training, and there are few if any other programs in the world that offer such a stunning array of internationally-recognized and collaborative clinical and lab research opportunities as this program. Fellows receive training and experience in basic, clinical, and outcomes research. Each fellow has an individualized research program focused on laboratory based basic or translational research or clinical research. Those fellows who pursue epidemiologic or outcomes research are encouraged to enroll in the MPH or MS programs at University of Washington. With input from the Division Head and Program Director, the fellow selects his/her research mentor for laboratory or clinical research projects. Research mentors are available at all our affiliated institutions, University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Bloodworks Northwest, VA-Puget Sound, as well as opportunities at Seattle Children’s.

At Fred Hutch, fellows can choose from research in basic science, clinical research, human biology, public health sciences or vaccine and infectious diseases:

  • Fred Hutch’s Basic Sciences Division comprises about 30 independent and highly interactive laboratories pursuing different, yet related, areas of molecular and cellular biology and utilizing a broad range of approaches and experimental systems.
  • From laboratory bench to bedside, the Clinical Research Division works to develop and analyze new treatments for cancers and other diseases.
  • The mission of the Human Biology Division is to cultivate interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of human biology and the complex problems of neoplasia and other human diseases. The division is structured to foster laboratory-based and computational research at the interface of basic, clinical, and population sciences.
  • The goal of the Public Health Sciences Division is to identify strategies that would ultimately reduce the incidence of and mortality from cancer and other diseases.
  • The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division (VIDD) aims to develop novel vaccines for infectious diseases that threaten global health, to shed light on the workings of the human immune system, and to develop novel treatment and prevention strategies to lessen the burden of infectious diseases and cancers caused by infection, particularly in the immunocompromised host. The international HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) is headquartered at VIDD.

These five divisions offer a unique environment for career development, with faculty members often holding joint appointments throughout Fred Hutch as well as at the University of Washington and Children’s Hospital.

The University of Washington Medical Center also offers a full slate of research opportunities, as does Seattle Children’s Hospital. UW faculty members have been responsible for many basic science and technological advances in medicine. UW Medical Center faculty have been pioneers in numerous areas, including transgenic animal technology, cell replication and signal transduction research, as well as the development of medical ultrasound, renal dialysis and technology critical to protein science, and they are international leaders in genome sciences. When the National Institutes of Health created the first three National Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences, the UW received two of the three awards – one in the School of Medicine and one in the College of Engineering. Ten UW Medicine faculty are recognized by the Gairdner Foundation for their seminal contributions to scientific advances worldwide. UW biomedical research programs have been ranked consistently among the top three schools in receipt of National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant funding in U.S. News & World Report surveys, which reports UW School of Medicine faculty receiving NIH grants totaling $712.3 million in fiscal year 2009.

The major activity of the Hematology Division at the University of Washington is research. Building on the distinguished accomplishments of the Division’s founding members and early leaders, our current faculty continues to work at the cutting edge of molecular and cellular biology, pathophysiology, and applied clinical research. This work is carried out both as investigator-initiated projects within the Division and through collaborative efforts with colleagues at Fred Hutch, the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium, basic science departments at the University, and other Divisions in the Department of Medicine.

Since 1944, Bloodworks Northwest (formerly known as Puget Sound Blood Center) scientists have transformed medical science with breakthroughs in blood storage, transfusion, transplantation, and hemophilia care. These discoveries have redefined best practices and improved patient care. From the beginning, research has been an integral part of the Bloodworks Northwest’s mission. Today, the Bloodworks Northwest scientific staff is nearly 70, including 11 Principal Investigators, work in specialized labs to better the lives of patients with bleeding disorders, patients who need lifesaving transfusions or bone marrow matches, and many others. The research program has been recognized worldwide for major advancements and contributions to transfusion and transplantation medicine. Leading the Bloodworks Northwest’s Research Institute into the future, José A. López, MD, Executive Vice President for Research, notes the Bloodworks Northwest’s leadership in its field: “The Bloodworks Northwest’s research has a long and distinguished record and is recognized internationally. My vision is to further enhance the Bloodwork Northwest’s reputation, bringing the best, brightest and most creative minds here to make discoveries that will not only help the people of the Puget Sound region, but improve the lives of people throughout the world.”

Research and Development plays a vital role in the Department of Veterans Affairs mission, and nowhere is this more evident than in the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. The R&D program is a reflection of VA Puget Sound’s commitment to providing the highest quality care to its Veterans. It is an integral part of the affiliation with the University of Washington, bringing that institution’s premier academic medicine program to VA Puget Sound and ensuring that the professional staff and quality of care is of the highest caliber. The cohesiveness and strength of this research community is felt throughout the Northwest. There are over 600 active research projects. This strong, diversified base of support has ensured a robust, productive program, making VA Puget Sound a superior facility in the region. Principal Investigators represent virtually every major clinical department within the medical system. Futhermore VAPS has distinguished itself with several VA Centers of Excellence and special emphasis programs including Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), Northwest Center for Outcomes Research in Older Adults (HSR&D), Northwest Hepatitis C Field Based Resource Center, Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetics Engineering (RR&D), Epidemiologic Research & Information Center (ERIC), Center of Excellence for Substance Abuse Treatment & Education (CESATE), Alzheimer’s Research Center, Diabetes/Endocrinology Research Center.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute scientists work in interdisciplinary research centers around common thematic focus areas and identifiable sets of core programs. Dr. Michael Jensen leads the SCRI Cancer Research Program with current focus in use of immunotherapeutic approaches to treatment of cancer.