The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, based in Seattle, Wash., has received the largest private contribution in its 41-year history, a $35-million gift from the Bezos family. The gift will be used to attract research talent to lead projects at the core of the center’s new strategic plan. Jeff Bezos is chief executive officer of online retailer Amazon.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Bezos family for their continued generosity and partnership in our commitment to finding cures for patients,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, president and director of the center. “These funds allow us to move rapidly and be nimble, and we will use this gift in ways that can have the highest impact in finding cures for cancer. Thanks to the generosity of the Bezos family we will be able to invest in promising science and recruit new leaders.”
Specific areas the gift will benefit include:
* Translational data science. The goal is for the center to develop methods that allow large data sets to be analyzed to understand the best treatments for individual patients. The effort will also integrate data from large-scale studies to benefit both individual patients and illuminate public health issues;
* Pathogen-related cancers. About 20 percent of cancers globally, and as many as 60 percent in some portions of sub-Saharan Africa are caused by pathogens. Further investment in the area is intended to attack cancer in the same way viruses are combatted, through preventative vaccines and other means; and,
* Transplantation and immunotherapy: The center will seek new ways to extend and multiply cures across a broad range of tumors, building on the center’s history in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy.
The donation’s timing is particularly significant as the proposed federal budget currently includes cuts to the National Institutes of Health’s funding, said former Gov. Christine Gregoire in a release. “While private donations could never make up for the loss of NIH funding, gifts such as this are essential, allowing Fred Hutch to expedite its lifesaving work,” she said. “We are profoundly grateful to the family. I can also say that as a cancer survivor myself, it provides hope for patients that more cures are on the way and that Fred Hutch will not waiver in its determination to find them.”
The gift is the latest in a line of gifts provided to the center by the family. The center, in December, opened the Bezos Family Immunotherapy Clinic, a recognition of the family’s past generosity and investment and investment in immunotherapy research.