The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle has announced a gift of $35 million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his family in support of its efforts to identify and attract world-class talent able to advance its research priorities.
The largest philanthropic commitment in the center’s history will be focused on research in translational data science and the application of new methods to the analysis of massive data sets that can lead to new discoveries in basic, translational, and clinical research; pathogen-related cancers, which account for roughly a quarter of all cancers in the United States; and transplantation and immunotherapy, including bone marrow transplantation, one of the center's core strengths.
According to Gary Gilliland, president and director of the center, cancer research typically has focused on sequencing the cancer genome with the aim of identifying mutations that can be targeted with therapies. However, the next generation of cancer research will focus on a patient's — and not the tumor's — genome and variations that can predict a patient’s response to immunotherapy.
"The opportunity with immunotherapy is that it's potentially curative," said Gilliland. "It has to do with the person themselves and their own genetic composition....If we can understand that, we can select patients who are 100 percent likely to respond instead of 50 percent. And then we can understand the 50 percent who don’t and how to manage that."