Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Tip Sheet: New COVID-19 transmission study, returning to school, video of biorepositories — and a new weight loss study

Summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news

Newswise — SEATTLE —  April 2, 2021 — Below are summaries of recent Fred Hutch research findings and other news.

April is National Minority Health Month, with a focus on the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color. See more details below on related Fred Hutch programming.

Save the date for our monthly public science event, “Science Says” on Tuesday, April 27. The theme is immunotherapy, and we’ll be talking with Hutch scientists who are using the power of the immune system to create personalized therapies. There will also be a brief update from one of our COVID-19 experts. Please RSVP HERE by Monday, April 26.


College students muster for big COVID-19 vaccine study A recently launched study aims to answer the question of whether COVID-19 vaccines prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission of the virus. Designed and managed by researchers at the COVID-19 Prevention Network at Fred Hutch, the Prevent COVID U study will offer the Moderna vaccine to 12,000 students across the U.S. and aims to have results by the fall.  Q&A: Returning to school, post-transplant As schools across the country grapple with what a safe reopening looks like, many families weigh the risk of virus exposure at school with the benefits of being in the classroom. We spoke with Drs. Alpana Waghmare and Neel Bhatt about how they guide parents whose children receive bone marrow transplants and who are at greater risk of infections.

National Minority Health Month

The month of April is National Minority Health Month, and Fred Hutch will join the effort to build awareness of health inequities by focusing on a minority group each week. You can follow our Community Employees for Racial Equity resource group on Twitter for more info. Also, our Office of Community Outreach & Engagement will host their 7th annual Virtual Health & Wellness Festival, April 1-30. The event aims to provide more health information to communities.

Data science and systems biology

'Tissues are data' In a video and accompanying story, get a behind the scenes look at some of the biorepositories at Fred Hutch. These collections of tissues amassed over decades are helping researchers discover information hidden in our cells, understand what goes wrong when we get sick, and then design new medicines to intervene.

What's a cancer registry? Large databases track cancer trends, spotlight health disparities and improve patient care. One called the Cancer Surveillance System is headquartered at Fred Hutch and contributes to the national registry, SEER, run by the National Cancer Institute. Learn more about how the registries work from the researcher who leads CSS, and who even had to contribute to it when he had his own cancer diagnosis.

Omics made easier Omes and omics are proliferating these days: Genomics. Epigenomics. Proteomics. Metabolomics. Transcriptomics. But what do they mean, and why are they important? We had Fred Hutch experts explain some of the most often-studied omics and what they mean for human disease.

Outlining the molecular networks that alter cell function and behavior Dr. Taran Gujral has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study the molecular networks that govern cells’ ability to transition between different states, a process that is co-opted by cancer cells. The five-year, $1.2M award will allow Gujral to introduce two high school students to computational research.  

Public health sciences

Fred Hutch eyes the future of weight loss Smoking cessation researchers at Fred Hutch have adapted their tried-and-tested behavioral therapy techniques to help people lose weight. This successful pilot study uses acceptance and commitment phone therapy, and it now has a new $3.7M grant to help launch a larger clinical trial.

Vaccine and infectious diseases

5 reasons why a cancer research center has virology expertise Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists at Fred Hutch were investigating the human immune system and how infectious agents interact with our bodies. That effort began in combating infections in cancer patients. We also know that some cancers are linked to infectious agents. With COVID-19, Fred Hutch’s deep virology expertise became crucial to the global effort to end the pandemic and now more than 20% of Fred Hutch researchers have had active projects in COVID-19.

HIV antibody trial results offer 'proof of concept' A large international study has shown that it is possible to prevent some HIV infections with infusions of a particularly potent protein known as a broadly neutralizing antibody, but it will likely take a combination of different and more potent proteins to block all strains of the shape-shifting virus. According to Dr. Larry Corey, results of the Antibody Mediated Prevention, or AMP, trials released earlier this year are an “important proof of concept” that demonstrated the feasibility of blocking HIV with bimonthly infusions of such antibodies.

Other notable news

Statement in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community

Dedicated supporters at the Heart of the Hutch

Working from home and showing the Heart of the Hutch

Dr. Mazyar Shadman receives the 2021 Ali Al-Johani Award


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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first National Cancer Institute-funded cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.

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Released: 24-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
New protein engineering method could accelerate the discovery of COVID-19 therapeutics
University of Michigan

Discovering and engineering nanobodies with properties suitable for treating human diseases ranging from cancer to COVID-19 is a time-consuming, laborious process.

Newswise: Decoding humans’ survival from coronaviruses
Released: 24-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
Decoding humans’ survival from coronaviruses
University of Adelaide

An international team of researchers co-led by the University of Adelaide and the University of Arizona has analysed the genomes of more than 2,500 modern humans from 26 worldwide populations, to better understand how humans have adapted to historical coronavirus outbreaks.

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Embargo will expire: 29-Jun-2021 4:00 PM EDT Released to reporters: 24-Jun-2021 10:35 AM EDT

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Released: 24-Jun-2021 10:00 AM EDT
Pandemic Air Quality Affected By Weather, Not Just Lockdowns
Washington University in St. Louis

Using a diverse set of tools, the lab of Randall Martin shows how the pandemic did – or didn’t – affect levels of particulate matter during COVID lockdowns.

Released: 24-Jun-2021 6:05 AM EDT
Longest known SARS-CoV-2 infection of nearly 300 days successfully treated with new therapy
University of Bristol

An immunocompromised individual with the longest known PCR confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection, lasting more than 290 days, has been successfully treated with two investigational monoclonal antibodies (laboratory engineered antibodies). Clinicians and researchers from the University of Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) worked closely to assess and treat the infection and want to highlight the urgent need for improved access to treatments for such people with persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Released: 23-Jun-2021 3:55 PM EDT
Cooperative Extension grant aims to vaccinate NYS’ vulnerable
Cornell University

A two-year, $200,000 grant from the USDA and the Extension Foundation to Cornell University researchers aims to help promote vaccine confidence and uptake in vulnerable communities in eight New York counties, both upstate and downstate.

Released: 23-Jun-2021 12:10 PM EDT
Phone swabs can accurately detect COVID-19
University College London

An accurate, non-invasive, and low-cost method of testing for COVID-19 using samples taken from the screens of mobile phones has been developed by a team led by UCL researchers at Diagnosis Biotech.

Newswise: NIH study suggests COVID-19 prevalence far exceeded early pandemic cases
Released: 23-Jun-2021 11:35 AM EDT
NIH study suggests COVID-19 prevalence far exceeded early pandemic cases
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

In a new study, NIH researchers report that the prevalence of COVID-19 in the United States during spring and summer of 2020 far exceeded the known number of cases and that infection affected the country unevenly.

Released: 23-Jun-2021 11:25 AM EDT
Half of young adults with covid-19 have persistent symptoms 6 months after
University of Bergen

A paper published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine on long-COVID, describes persistent symptoms six months after acute COVID-19, even in young home isolated people.

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Released: 23-Jun-2021 9:40 AM EDT
COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Dr. Vin Gupta Narrates New American Thoracic Society Video
American Thoracic Society (ATS)

The American Thoracic Society rolls out a new video to address vaccine hesitancy and answer common questions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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