Early Cancer Detection Research at the HUTCH
After the death of Grace Listwin in 2001, her son Don set out to find a research institution that focused on the early detection of ovarian cancer. The search led to a researcher by the name of Dr. Nicole Urban located in Seattle at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC). Initial meetings focused on the idea of blood biomarkers, proteins that are uniquely created by cancer, which would be circulating in the blood and detectable in early disease.
Don funded Nicole’s work for two years and during that time developed a relationship with Dr. Lee Hartwell, the FHCRC Center Director and Nobel Prize recipient. The two discussed a bigger center-wide initiative and subsequently agreed to build a Cancer Early Detection Center of Excellence (COE) inside FHCRC. Early on, faculty were recruited with experience in proteomics—the search for proteins—and program management was put in place and many other FHCRC researchers with interest in early cancer detection joined the initiative. Jointly, the Listwin Family Foundation and Canary Foundation have invested approximately $20 million in this center. It is estimated by the Hutch that over $100 million in additional government funding has been awarded to these scientists for early cancer research over the past decade. The Hutch remains a key part of the Canary Project and is home to two Canary program team leaders.
Dr. Jason Bielas is in the process of developing a number of technologies that are extremely sensitive to mutagenesis in order to find changes in DNA that indicate the presence of cancer.