The donation, which will be used to draw top research talent and to explore novel ways of fighting cancer, breaks the previous record of $20 million, also set by the Bezos family, which includes the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
The Bezos family has strengthened its longstanding support of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center by giving it $35 million, the largest gift received by the institution.
The donation, which will be used to draw top researchers and to explore new ways to fight cancer, breaks the previous record of $20 million set in 2014, also by the Bezos family, which includes Jackie and Mike, the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
The gift more than doubles the amount of money that the family has donated to the center to date. It also represents a substantial amount of philanthropic funding for an institution that last year received $50 million in gifts.
“I hope other people will see this and do their research on the Hutch,” said Jackie Bezos in a telephone interview. “They are a truly unique organization, a rare combination of world-class research, compassion and tremendous business sense.”
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In a news release, the Hutch called the donation a “transformative investment” that could help it address its top priority of recruiting key researchers and push research forward.
The Hutch intends to use part of the funds to study which treatments are better for individual patients by examining large sets of data. It also plans to devote funds to the research of pathogen-related cancers, which account for about 20 percent of the cancers seen globally.
Immunotherapy — a treatment method that seeks to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer — and bone-marrow transplantation are also part of the critical research that will benefit from the Bezos family funds, the Hutch said.
The Bezos family’s generosity “enables us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Hutch President Gary Gilliland said in an interview. That means research that can yield results in a relatively short time — eight to 10 years, he said.
The infusion also comes at a time when the Hutch is expanding its roster of researchers, from about 226 to 258 by the end of the decade. The Bezos grant gives the Hutch a leg up in drawing top talent at a time when there are widespread concerns about the future of public funding for research, Gilliland said.
The philanthropic relationship between the Bezos family and the Hutch dates back years, and is separate from the Bezos Family Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on learning and leadership.
Jackie Bezos said that a friend invited the family to meet the Hutch’s top brass about a decade ago. “It was obvious that the leadership had laid the groundwork to lead a truly unique organization,” she said.
In 2007, the family gave the center $500,000 for cancer research, followed two years later by a $10 million donation, destined to fund the immunotherapy program. In 2014, the Bezoses gave $20 million, for work focusing on immunotherapy for leukemia and lymphoma as well as other types of cancer.
In November, the Hutch named its new immunotherapy clinic after the family.
Information in this article, originally published March 30, 2017, was corrected the same day. A previous version of this story, based on information from the Hutch, incorrectly stated that virus-related cancers account for about 25 percent of the cancers seen in the U.S. Pathogen-related cancers, including those caused by viruses, actually account for about 20 percent of the cancers seen globally.