Presenter: Fred Appelbaum, MD
Professor of Medical Oncology, University of Washington
Executive Vice President and Deputy Director, External Affairs, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Dr. Appelbaum is the executive director of SCCA. His work centers on the biology and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.
Decades of working with cancer patients teaches you to savor everyday pleasures like the teasing notes of coriander and cumin in a simmering pot of curry or getting to hug your child, and it fortifies his resolve to keep moving cancer care forward. He’s determined to improve screening, enhance treatment and stop cancer from returning.
As a medical student in the early 1970s, Dr. Appelbaum happened upon Dr. E. Donnall Thomas’ initial description of bone-marrow transplantation in a medical journal. The pioneering technique eventually earned Thomas the Nobel Prize and transformed leukemia and related cancers, once thought incurable, into highly treatable diseases with survival rates as high as 90 percent.
Bone-marrow transplants became the cornerstone of the newly formed Hutchinson Center, and it wasn’t long before Dr. Appelbaum was recruited to join Thomas’ team of medical mavericks in Seattle making historic inroads against blood cancers.
Now, he holds the job that Thomas once held, and he has spent decades building on Thomas’ groundbreaking innovations. Dr. Appelbaum has been an innovator in his own right, refining transplant procedures, conducting clinical trials and caring for patients.
Part of that job is extending the Hutch’s patient research beyond transplants. We’ve expanded our role in the more common solid tumors and have created nontransplant approaches to blood cancers. We’ve made substantial gains in treating prostate, colon, pancreatic, lung, breast and ovarian cancers, but we have a long way to go.