Seattle and the Puget Sound region are now home to a new cancer research center, the result of a multiorganization collaboration: the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
Four Washington health care and research organizations — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a separate institution that opened its doors in 1975, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Children’s and UW Medicine — have wrapped up plans for a significant restructure, which aims to combine forces to accelerate patient access to cancer treatment.
The new collaboration will merge the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the SCCA to establish the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, according to a Friday statement from the organizations.
“We’re doing this to bring the urgency to cancer research that we need to,” Dr. Thomas J. Lynch, president and director of the new center, said in an interview Thursday. “… It’s time for that to happen. Six hundred and ten thousand Americans will die from cancer this year. We’ve got to make an impact.”
The new research center will also be a “clinically integrated part” of UW Medicine and UW Medicine’s cancer program, Lynch said. Seattle Children’s will continue to operate independently, but serve as the central site for pediatric cancer care, the statement said.
As a “unified organization,” the new center — which will have about 5,500 staffers — will focus on improving patient outcomes, accelerating research discoveries and cures, and reducing barriers to collaboration, Lynch added.
SCCA’s eight clinical sites will be rebranded over the coming months as Fred Hutch Cancer Center sites and SCCA employees will become Fred Hutch staffers. But patients shouldn’t expect any other noticeable changes, Lynch said.
UW Medicine physicians will continue to work with their current patients at both the new center and UW Medical Center.
A new clinical building will also open in mid-2023.
“With this new structure, we can provide the best possible experience for the patient with cancer, provide health care professionals with what they need, and connect the best of cancer research in Seattle,” Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, said in an interview.
In addition, the center will welcome a new board of directors, composed of 13 community directors and ex officio positions, which will be held by leaders at Fred Hutch Cancer Center and UW Medicine. NanoString Technologies Vice President Kathy Surace-Smith, who chaired the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s board of trustees, will head the new board.
Seattle Children’s, which joined efforts with UW Medicine and Fred Hutch 20 years ago to form the SCCA, will work in partnership with the new center to “advance breakthroughs in adult and pediatric oncology,” the statement said.
“The technology of cancer care now is something which has never been what it is,” Lynch said. “Our ability to understand the genes that drive cancer, our ability to understand the immune system and how that fights cancer has never been what it is now. … It’s time to actually make a difference in our cure rates of cancer.”