Dr. E. Donnall Thomas’ death on October 20, 2012, provided all of us at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center a time to reflect upon his remarkable accomplishments. Not only did he create one of the most complex and successful approaches to curing cancer, he also created a model for team science, perseverance and commitment that is part of the core values and bones of our institution.
If there was ever a “life well lived,” it was Don’s. Don earned a Nobel Prize for establishing bone marrow transplantation as a successful treatment for leukemia and other fatal diseases of the blood, a treatment that has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.
He also left a legacy of innovative and groundbreaking research at Fred Hutch, where colleagues and friends have continued to make improvements on treating leukemias and lymphomas as well as other forms of cancer.
One of the seminal observations that Don made was the recognition that the host immune system attacked the residual cancer and was a major factor in the curative process of BMT.
This has led to a 20-year quest to develop novel immunotherapies for many forms of cancer using a person’s own immune cells. This issue of Quest is about transplantation and how far we have come since those days when Thomas was trying to convince the world that his procedure would work.
Today, thanks in large part to our own people at Fred Hutch, we’re within reach of being able to offer transplantation to nearly every patient in need. Our work has also made transplantation safer and increased survival rates dramatically. It has made it possible to transplant older patients who had absolutely no other alternatives.
No other research center matches our past and current contributions to the transplantation field—we’re leaders, and that’s why our researchers remain committed to making transplantation safer and more widely available.
Still, too many people die from blood cancers, and that’s why the work must go on—with your support.
This is exactly what friends of Fred Hutch are doing. The David and Patricia Giuliani Family Foundation wants to see us improve survival and quality of life for thousands of patients with mantle cell and follicular lymphomas. They’re offering a $1.5 million challenge at the Hutch Holiday Gala and will match the attendees’ donations dollar for dollar. Join us in the fight against cancer because together, we help save lives.
Dr. Larry Corey
President and Director