Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is looking for partners. We now believe it is possible to develop cures for most if not all cancers by 2025, but we know we cannot go it alone.
The kind of help we need is literally just down the street from our campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union — and throughout this remarkable state of Washington. That is an opportunity for all of us.
My role at Fred Hutch is to work as a sort of matchmaker, bringing our researchers together with potential partners. When we offer our insight and science, our partners can provide us with the technology, tools and financial boost we need to get across that cancer-cure finish line sooner. I run a 17-member office to help make this happen.
One of our newest team members, Director of Business Development Vijay Sureshkumar, comes to us with a background in startups including Expedia, where he was a founding team member. His sole focus is on cultivating creative partnerships, licensing agreements, and scientific collaborations with tech and data companies to help us unlock the power of our data to accelerate toward more cures.
It is no coincidence that the advances in immunotherapy, precision oncology and other fields at Fred Hutch are occurring in a world center for bioscience, data science and computer technology. This convergence of thinkers and makers is exactly what we need to bring more cures to more patients and get these therapies to the bedside faster. We want our neighbors and like-minded researchers across the country to join us and share in our excitement.
Through our partnerships, we are applying machine-learning techniques to MRI images to identify markers for breast cancer. We are exploring the use of mobile apps, wearables and chat bots to empower people to monitor and improve their own health.
Not surprisingly, we are pursuing discussions on partnerships with regional giants like Amazon and Microsoft, who have helped to make Seattle the cloud computing capital of the world. We are looking to connect with mid-level tech and data companies, startups and venture capitalists. From licensing new discoveries to investing in spinoffs, we are talking to biotech firms, global health organizations, and experts in high-dimensional data mining, omics, and image analysis.
Human biology, governed by the coded instructions of DNA in our chromosomes, is increasingly a data-driven science, and the secrets to cancer cures of the future are likely hidden in our genes and the vast catalog of proteins our bodies constantly produce. We want to tap the ingenuity of neighbors to help us sort through this growing mountain of data. We need expert collaborators to find the telltale signals of cancer and the precise targets for our new immunotherapies.
Fred Hutch not only benefits from this culture of creative solutions in the commercial sector, we contribute to it. Hutch spinoffs such as Juno Therapeutics, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Nohla Therapeutics are exciting, growing bioscience businesses. Hutch scientists launched 12 new startups from 2006–2015. During the next 10 years, we anticipate 25 more.
As a matchmaker on a mission to cure cancer, I could not imagine a more exciting place to be. This sort of economy builds upon itself, making Washington state an increasingly attractive and interesting place to work. I like to think that through collaborative partnerships, our dream of finding cures for cancer patients sooner grows more vivid and attainable with each passing day.