Fred Hutch looks to tap expertise from Druker, other OHSU aces

Cancer researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center want to collaborate with each other.

Dr. Gary Gilliland, president of Fred Hutch, spoke at the Oregon Bio 2015 conference today about the Seattle center’s efforts in cancer research and how they may dovetail with OHSU’s.

Gilliland said he and Knight Cancer Institute Director Dr. Brian Druker discussed “ways to collaborate” over dinner on Wednesday night. Those might include joint retreats, he said.

“At the Hutch, we know exactly what we want to do, but we don’t have a billion dollars, so I see some opportunities for synergy,” Gilliland joked.

He was alluding, of course, to OHSU’s recently completed $1 billion Knight Cancer Challenge.

While the Knight Institute plans to use the bulk of those funds to pursue research into early cancer detection, immunotherapy is a focus at the Fred Hutch. This approach refers to harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer tumors.

“Our mantra is, cures start here,” Gilliland said. “Our intent is not only to treat cancer, but cure cancer.”

Gilliland, a former executive at Merck Research Laboratories, said the business and academic communities need to do a better job of connecting. He also cautioned against institutions competing against one another.

“We need to maximize our ability to raise money regionally and nationally,” he said. “In the Northwest, we need to not have an arms race or competition. We’re working together to do the right thing. That’s the reason people like (Nike Founder) Phil Knight and (Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Gert) Ma Boyle put their dollars down. They realize they can have a big impact.”

Oregon Bio continues throughout the day at OHSU’s Collaborative Life Sciences Building on the South Waterfront and Thursday at Marylhurst University. Stay tuned for more coverage of speakers and today’s Pitchfest.


Elizabeth Hayes
Staff Reporter
Portland Business Journal
September 9, 2015

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