Leading Research

Seattle Children’s, the University of Washington Medical Center, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are each world leaders in their own right in pediatric cancer research. The combination of these three institutions is unparalleled. Our research activities encompass internationally recognized programs which have been responsible for the development of widely used clinical treatments, including hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, cellular immunotherapy, novel targeted therapy for treating acute myelogenous leukemia, novel approaches to diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors, solid tumors and leukemia and a regional comprehensive survivorship program designated as one of only 7 Survivorship Centers of Excellence in the US.

Research Focus

Our interdisciplinary programs focus on cancer biology, therapy, and outcomes and include training opportunities in both basic and clinical research.

  • Basic Science and Translational Laboratory Research: Our laboratory research programs focus 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 cell development.

    Specific laboratory research within the pediatric 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 and graft versus host disease; neuro-oncology and pediatric 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.

  • Clinical Research: 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. Our clinical cancer research goal is to improve outcomes with decreased long term effects on the lives of cancer survivors.

    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 and palliative care. New therapies for cancer are being investigated through investigator-initiated clinical trials, pharmaceutical company trials and international and national consortia trials.

    Our Children’s and Hutchinson Center-based pediatric faculty are national leaders in areas of novel approaches to hematopoietic stem cell transplant, AML, neuro-oncology, Ewings sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, cancer in the adolescent and young adult population and survivorship and outcomes following cancer therapy. Seattle Children’s is among a small group of institutions that actively participate in all national networks investigating novel therapies for children with refractory or recurrent cancers: Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Phase I Consortium, New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT), Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia (TACL), Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC), and Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators’ Consortium (POETIC). Among all pediatric oncology centers in the nation, Seattle Children’s is consistently among the top five for patient enrollment in clinical trials.

    Research Training

    Years 2 and 3 of the Seattle Children’s/UW/Hutchinson Center Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program are devoted to research training. Few other programs offer such a broad array of internationally-recognized leaders and collaborative clinical and laboratory research opportunities. Faculty members hold joint appointments in all three institutions. Fellows have opportunities to receive training and experience in both laboratory research, clinical research and related health science areas of bioinformatics, bioethics, palliative care and global health.

    In order to meet our fellows’ unique career development goals, we develop an individualized research program for each. This includes ongoing mentorship regarding research projects, timelines for manuscript and grant development, as well as targeted career development seminars. All fellows participate in regular works-in-progress presentations within their laboratory or clinical research teams.

    Basic or translational research: For those interested in basic or translational laboratory research, there are opportunities through Fred Hutch, the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute:

    At Fred Hutch, five unique divisions offer a unique environment for career development:

  • The Basic Sciences Division is comprised of >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.
  • The Clinical Research Division works to develop and analyze new treatments for cancers and other diseases and translate investigational new agents from the bench to the bedside.
  • The Human Biology Division aims 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 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. Nested within VIDD is Fred Hutch’s Global Oncology Program aimed at addressing the worldwide cancer epidemic by translating four decades of scientific exploration into new prevention and treatment strategies.
  • The University of Washington Medical Center also offers a full slate of basic science research opportunities. UW faculty members have been responsible for many basic science and technological advances in medicine and 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. International recognition of UW faculty scientific achievements include:

  • 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.
  • Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI) scientists work in interdisciplinary research centers around common thematic focus areas and identifiable sets of core centers:

  • The Ben Towne Cancer Research Center is home to the world-renown SCRI immunotherapy research program (lead by Drs. Michael Jensen and Leslie Kean). Cutting edge science in Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell regimens includes translational research programs for leukemias and solid tumors.
  • The Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) is home to multiple basic science laboratories focused on the development of treatments that transform the health of children. The CCTR is home to more than 400 research faculty and staff members from over 30 subdivisions and is the hub for clinical investigation and therapeutic development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
  • The Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies brings together a dynamic group of experts across multiple disciplines to solve some of the immune system’s most complex problems. Many of the researchers treat patients in the Immunology, Rheumatology and other clinics at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The center’s research evolves from clinical questions to laboratory-based investigation and back to patients in the form of improved diagnostic tools for primary immune deficiency and autoimmune diseases, advanced therapies for genetic disorders, innovative vaccine strategies and enhanced immune monitoring techniques.
  • Other centers at SCRI include:

  • Center for Child Health and Development
  • Center for Developmental Biology and Regenerative Medicine
  • Center for Global Infectious Disease Research
  • Center for Integrative Brain Research
  • Clinical or outcomes research: For fellows interested in clinical or outcomes research, fellows may pursue careers in epidemiology and public health, survivorship and outcomes, global health, bioethics, and palliative care. Our clinical research track (CR track) is well-established and includes specialized mentorship from research leaders in these fields. Fellows on the CR track are encouraged to enroll in Master’s Degree programs at the University of Washington (e.g., in the School of Public Health). Just as with the laboratory research opportunities, the CR track includes a wealth of focused research training opportunities from Fred Hutch, The University of Washington, and SCRI.

  • Population Health: The Public Health Sciences Division of the Hutchinson Center aims to aim to identify strategies that would ultimately reduce the incidence of and mortality from cancer and other diseases.
  • The Survivorship and Outcomes program: The Survivorship Program team is dedicated to conducting research to learn more about the long-term and late effects of cancer treatment and to improve the quality of life for survivors. Researchers are involved in projects ranging from studying the long-term cardiovascular effects of cancer treatment, to examining the factors that determine emotional adjustment and quality of life.
  • Global Health: Seattle is a hub for Global Health, home to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH, Health Alliance International, I-TECH, and the UW Global Health Department. Seattle also houses national leaders in Global Oncology, with several experts at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. From infectious disease related cancer research, to cancer advocacy, to capacity building efforts, each focus is represented in Seattle. The Fred Hutch partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute is a great example of a winning partnership between a cancer center in a low resource setting and a center of excellence here in the USA.
  • The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics is housed in the SCRI Center for Clinical and Translational Research. It serves as a national resource for addressing the complex bioethical issues affecting families, healthcare institutions and society.
  • Seattle is also home to the University of Washington Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence (PCCE). The PCCE is home to an internationally-renowned research center dedicated to improving the quality of palliative and end-of-life care. The collaborative, inter-professional faculty of the center received over $6 million in 2016 from 20 on-going NIH and foundation-funded grants. These faculty members provide diverse expertise, mentorship, and resources for those interested in palliative care oncology research.