National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
June 16, 2009 • Volume 6 / Number 12

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Cancer Center Profile

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium

Director: Dr. Leland Hartwell • 1100 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109 • Phone: 206-667-5000 • Web site: http://www.cancerconsortium.org

'The Vessel' is a 4-story sculptural centerpiece on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center campus. 'The Vessel' is a 4-story sculptural centerpiece on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center campus.

Background
The Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium is a research collaboration comprised of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center since 1976; the University of Washington (UW); Seattle Children's; and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). The Hutchinson Center's designation as an NCI comprehensive cancer center was expanded to include the Consortium in 2003.

While the participating institutions remain independent, the Consortium combines their strengths to accelerate research progress in the fight against cancer. The Consortium brings together over 400 faculty members with research interests in basic, clinical, and public health sciences related to cancer, with $116 million in funding from NCI in 2008.

Research
The four participating institutions in the Consortium have a long history of multi-disciplinary collaborations. Faculty members are organized into 13 research programs that emphasize:

  • Public health (biostatistics, cancer prevention, epidemiology)
  • Clinical research (clinical transplantation, transplantation biology)
  • Fundamental sciences (basic sciences, genome instability, stem/progenitor cell biology)
  • Programs that impact all three disciplines (cancer imaging; gastrointestinal cancer etiology, risk, and detection; immunology and vaccine development; prostate cancer; women's cancers)

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is recognized internationally for bone marrow transplantation, which began in the 1960s with the work of one of the Center's founding members, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, who pioneered the medical procedure that improved leukemia patients' survival from what was once nearly zero to as high as 90 percent. The Hutchinson Center's Bone Marrow Transplant Program, operated through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, is now the largest in the world, and its researchers continue to develop and refine new transplantation treatments and protocols and to train doctors worldwide.

Consortium members based at UW have primary faculty appointments in the University of Washington School of Medicine and the School of Public Health. The School of Medicine, founded in 1946, is a top-ranked scientific research institution and a leader in the training of physicians, and the University of Washington Medical Center is one of only four academic medical centers in the United States with dedicated clinical programs involving high-energy radiation therapy with linear accelerator and neutron therapy using a cyclotron.

Seattle Children's comprehensive cancer program treats more pediatric cancer cases than any other provider in the region. Cancer research activities at Seattle Children's include cooperative group clinical trials through its memberships in the Children's Oncology Group (COG), New Advances in Neuroblastoma Therapy Consortium, and the Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia Consortium. Seattle Children's has been particularly active in the development of protocols for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and solid tumors, including brain tumors.

The SCCA is a nationally designated cancer hospital formed in 1998 by the Hutchinson Center, UW, and Seattle Children's. The intent of the partners was to provide an optimal environment for clinical treatment and research by bringing the leading clinical research physicians and scientists of the three outstanding partner institutions together in a single cancer care delivery system. All medical faculty serving at the SCCA have a primary faculty appointment at either UW or the Hutchinson Center. 

Patient Care
In 2007, the Consortium provided medical care to more than 4,400 new patients. Though the majority of patients reside in Western Washington state, others are drawn from nearby and distant states, as well as from outside the United States. The Consortium offers a number of special programs that combine the research strengths at the member institutions with the needs of these patients. A cancer prevention clinic, for example, is available to anyone who is interested in learning about their risk for developing some common types of cancer and how they may be able to mediate this risk.

Other Notable Programs
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is under contract with NCI to serve Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington through the NCI Cancer Information Service's (CIS) Partnership Program, which brings cancer information to organizations that reach people most in need. It also operates one of three CIS Contact Centers, which provides information about cancer and smoking cessation counseling by telephone, TTY, and instant messaging to residents of the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and U.S. territories in the Pacific.