The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced today that it has received a $35 million gift from the Bezos family, the largest single donation in the center’s 41 years of operation.
The center called the donation a “transformative investment” that will go toward funding essential research to develop new cures and treatments for a wide spectrum of cancers.
Philanthropists Jackie and Mike Bezos, parents of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, have been quiet supporters of the Fred Hutch for years, previously donating about $30 million to the center.
“What we are really giving is the gift of time for all those people who will benefit from new treatments and cures. It’s the gift of more hugs, more graduations and more moments,” Jackie Bezos said in today’s news release. “Mike and I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of the Hutch scientists over the years. President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland is leading an extraordinary team and we wanted to invest in his vision and enable him to have flexible resources to recruit more stars.”
The new donation will support three major areas of research: translational data science, or using data science to research treatments and learn more about how current treatments are working; research on cancers caused by viruses, which make up almost two-thirds of cancers in some areas of the world; and continued research on transplants and immunotherapies that are opening doors to new treatments for high-risk patients.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Bezos family for their continued generosity and partnership in our commitment to finding cures for patients,” Fred Hutch president Gary Gilliland said. “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.”
The donation comes at a critical time, as government support for medical research appears to be shaky. In his first budget blueprint, President Donald Trump proposed cutting the budget of the National Institutes of Health by 20 percent. Fred Hutch receives almost 80 percent of its funding from NIH, and the organization funds a huge amount of essential medical research across the country.