Tip Sheet: Summer science education, new chief nursing officer, DEI program updates — and a new endpoint for multiple myeloma

SEATTLE — July 9, 2024 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch Cancer Center research findings, patient stories and other news.

Science education

Fred Hutch launches new scientific training program for high school and middle school teachers Fred Hutch launched Partners in Science 2.0 @ Fred Hutch, a summer research program training middle school and high school teachers in labs on campus. Participants will focus on a biomedical research project with a Fred Hutch scientist. This program, alongside additional student-focused summer programs, are part of Fred Hutch’s aim to increase diversity in the next generation of scientists.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, [email protected]

Patient care and outcomes

Fred Hutch’s new chief nursing officer says tragedy altered her perspective New chief nursing officer and vice president, Denene Prophet-Williams, MBA, MLA, recounts a life-threatening car accident that changed her perspective on patient care and the trajectory of her career.
Media contact: Heather Platisha, [email protected]

How a Black woman is coping with an ‘old white man’s disease’ A bladder cancer patient described her experience with diagnosis and treatment, including a therapy called BCG, or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, that is meant to reduce the risk of recurrence. Her Fred Hutch care provider, Jonathan Wright, MD, MS, explained that since the disease is four times as likely in men than in women, women are often diagnosed at a more advanced stage.
Media contact: Heather Platisha, [email protected]

Cancer research

When it comes to cancer trials, what’s the (end)point? Hematologist-oncologist Rahul Banerjee, MD, a multiple myeloma expert, highlighted how monitoring measurable residual disease, or MRD, will help clinicians more effectively monitor disease progression. Multiple myeloma is the slow-growing cancer of plasma cells, and though patients can be in remission for a long time, it is considered incurable.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

Diversity, equity and inclusion 

How do you build partnerships for health equity?
The annual Pathways to Equity Symposium hosted health equity experts from Fred Hutch and beyond to share tips for creating lasting partnerships between community members and scientists. The Office of Community Outreach & Engagement (OCOE), who sponsored the event, shared updates on their health equity efforts across Washington state.
Media contact: Kat Wynn,[email protected]

Fred Hutch recommits to DEI amid national backlash
While diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are being attacked nationwide, Fred Hutch reinvigorated the organization’s commitment during its fourth annual DEI Summit. The event brought together Fred Hutch colleagues and guests from the University of Washington Office of Health Equity, Life Science Washington, Seattle Children’s Theater and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Speakers lauded Fred Hutch’s early, authentic, substantial and enduring commitment to promoting these values.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, [email protected]

Fred Hutch announces eight recipients of 2024 Dr. Eddie Méndez Scholar Award
Fred Hutch announced the recipients of the Dr. Eddie Méndez Scholar Award, which recognizes early-career scientists from underrepresented backgrounds who are studying cancer, infectious diseases and basic sciences. The eight postdoctoral awardees come from research institutions across the country, including Fred Hutch.  Recipients will be recognized at a Fred Hutch symposium in July.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

10 Washington groups take on cancer health disparities with grants from Fred Hutch
Ten organizations serving counties across Washington state will use funds from the Community Grants Program to increase access to cancer screenings, provide mental health care to low-income individuals, mentor early-career oncologists and more. The program is operated by Fred Hutch’s OCOE with additional funding from the Community Benefit Program and the Science Education Partnership. Awardees align with the OCOE’s community health needs assessment, which identifies communities with the highest cancer risk, incidence and mortality, as well as top cancer sites.
Media contact: Kat Wynn, [email protected]


Getting a paw up in the cat-and-mouse game with the COVID-19 virus
Fred Hutch evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom, PhD, and his team are using a process called pseudovirus-based deep mutational scanning to anticipate mutations in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. Published in Nature, the method identifies mutations to the virus’s spike protein that have helped the virus dodge vaccines. While this won’t provide exact mutations, Bloom believes it will provide better understanding for paths that viral mutations will take down the line.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]


Secret to tamping down GVHD may lie in microbial genetics Graft-vs.-host disease, or GVHD, is an often-debilitating and sometimes deadly bone marrow transplant complication. GVHD is driven by donor immune cells (T cells) and can be reduced by matching immune genes between recipient and donor. A recent preclinical study led by Albert Yeh, MD, shows T cells can make GVHD worse by working with specific microbes in the body. Though research is preliminary and needs further validation in people, this is a potential step towards using the microbiome to improve transplantation.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: Bacteria that withstand fungal ‘bully’ gain resistance to last-resort antibiotic New research published in PLOS Biology shows that competition over magnesium can push bacteria to become more resistant to antibiotics. According to lead author Phoebe Hsieh, PhD, of the Malik Lab, the fungus Candida albicans hoards available magnesium minerals, causing bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance. Once the fungi are removed, this resistance disappears. According to the lab, this discovery could improve treatments in clinical intervention.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

Obesity research

Another look at leptin Research published in Current Biology shows a possible switch for the appetite-regulating hormone leptin. While previous research found that increasing leptin can suppress appetite and reduce obesity, studies were halted by leptin resistance. Obesity researcher Akhila Rajan, PhD, and team discovered the protein Atg8 in fruit flies (LC3 in humans) that switches leptin secretion on and off depending on food abundance. Rajan’s team wants to further study this molecular switch to find potential targets for metabolic disorders in humans.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

Events, grants and awards

Fred Hutch and UW hematology/oncology fellows win ASCO Young Investigator Awards Three researchers in the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington won Young Investigator Awards this year from the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) Foundation Conquer Cancer. The awardees’ subjects of study include a treatment for leukemia, a hormonal therapy for prostate cancer, and reducing financial toxicity for patients. Each recipient received a $50,000 grant for one year to pursue their research.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

Dr. Cecilia Moens named Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Basic Science Developmental biologist Cecilia Moens, PhD, received the Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Basic Science for her work studying zebrafish. Moens, also president of the International Zebrafish Society, studies over 7,000 zebrafish in her lab at Fred Hutch. Zebrafish brain development follows a similar process as humans, allowing Moens and her team insight into the human brain and a wide variety of disorders, including epilepsy, depression and digestive and immunity problems.
Media contact: Molly McElroy, [email protected]

Sen. Patty Murray talks women’s health during visit to Fred Hutch
Early this month, Sen. Patty Murray, senior Democratic senator from Washington state, toured Fred Hutch labs and clinics and learned about experimental therapies for metastatic breast cancer. A longtime champion of women’s health, Murray has supported several acts and programs for underfunded areas, as well as secured funding for the CDC and NIH. A NIH-designated center, Fred Hutch has long prioritized women’s health as well. The center supports the Women’s Health Initiative, laid the groundwork for the HPV vaccine, and continues to address disparities in women’s cancers through research and clinical trials.
Media contact: Claire Hudson, [email protected]

Science spotlight
Science Spotlight is a monthly installment of articles written by postdoctoral fellows that summarizes new research papers from Fred Hutch scientists. If you’re interested in learning more or covering these topics, contact [email protected]

# # #

Fred Hutch Cancer Center unites individualized care and advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options while accelerating discoveries that prevent, treat and cure cancer and infectious diseases worldwide.

Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch is an independent, nonprofit organization and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington. We have earned a global reputation for our track record of discoveries in cancer, infectious disease and basic research, including important advances in bone marrow transplantation, immunotherapy, HIV/AIDS prevention and COVID-19 vaccines. Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services. Fred Hutch also serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program.

withyou android app