Fred Hutch Names New President and Director, and more

Gary Gilliland Named as Fred Hutch’s New President and Director

On January 2, Gary Gilliland, MD, PhD, began his term as the new president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The research center made the announcement on November 20, 2014, following a national search.

Dr. Gilliland, an expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine, spent 20 years on the faculty at Harvard where he was professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University. The bulk of his initial work at Harvard focused on the genetic basis of blood cancers.

In 2009, Dr. Gilliland left Harvard to go to Merck Research Laboratories, and returned to academia in 2013 as the vice dean and vice president of precision medicine at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. There, he worked to bring together research and clinical care initiatives across disciplines to create a model for delivering personalized medicine to patients with a range of diseases.

Dr. Gilliland has earned numerous honors for his work throughout his career – including ASH’s William Dameshek Prize in 2003.

“What I’m most proud of in my career are the people I’ve trained or whose careers I’ve supported,” Dr. Gilliland said in a press release from Fred Hutch. “They are in academic medical centers all over the country – and I take great vicarious pleasure in their successes and accomplishments.”

Karmanos Cancer Institute Awarded $5.3 Million Grant to Improve Care for Patients with Blood-Related Cancers

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan, recently received a $5.3 million grant from the Dresner Foundation to continue to build its blood-related cancer services. The grant, which will be distributed over the next five years, will be used to advance hematologic malignancies research in several ways, according to a press release from the Institute, including creating an endowed chair position, helping recruit gifted scientists and fellowship positions, and establishing a patient registry and tissue bank for blood-related cancers. It will also establish a Patient Assistance Fund to help low-income cancer patients with financial challenges during their cancer care. “This grant will help recruit additional physicians with unique research skills to help bring new clinical trials and treatment options for patients with myelodysplastic syndrome, leukemia, and other blood cancers,” said Charles A. Schiffer, MD, multidisciplinary team leader of Malignant Hematology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, who will serve as the first endowed Joseph Dresner Chair for Hematologic Malignancies.

Moffitt Cancer Center Starts New Cardio-Oncology Program

The Moffitt Cancer Center recently announced a collaboration between itself and the University of South Florida (USF). Michael Fradley, MD, a cardiologist-oncologist at USF, will serve as director of the new cardio-oncology program, working with Roohi Ismail-Khan, MD, a medical oncologist with the Center for Women’s Oncology at Moffitt. Chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments save lives by killing cancer cells, but they often have a destructive impact on the heart and cardiovascular system. The new cardio-oncology program is designed to treat patients who develop cardiovascular complications after receiving cancer treatments, as well as to evaluate the “cardiotoxicity” of new molecular-targeted cancer therapies.

Donald Metcalf, “Father of Modern Hematology” (1929-2014)
Donald Metcalf, MD, well known for his pioneering work on the regulation of blood cell formation, died December 15, 2014, at the age of 85.

Born February 26, 1929, Dr. Metcalf joined the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in 1954 and worked there nearly continuously until his retirement in September 2014.

His work revolutionized the understanding of many blood cell diseases and their treatment. Beginning in 1965, he worked to co-develop specialized culture techniques for growing blood cells, which led to the discovery of colony-stimulating factors (CSFs), hormones that regulate white blood cell formation. Dr. Metcalf’s work led to the successful cloning and mass production of CSFs, which can speed recovery in cancer patients following chemotherapy or radiation therapy. These findings have benefited millions of patients worldwide.

Dr. Metcalf’s recent work led to the development of a new blood cell regulator, leukemia inhibitory factor, which acts on multiple tissues in the body and on the SOCS family of genes, which control blood cell responses to cytokines.

Dr. Metcalf has received many prestigious honors during his career, including ASH’s E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize, the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, the inaugural Salk Institute Prize for Research Excellence, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize of Columbia University, and the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2013, the inaugural Metcalf chair of leukemia research was created as a joint appointment between the institute, the University of Melbourne, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, in his honor.

He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Josephine, their four daughters, and six grandchildren.