Washington’s Cancer Research Endowment Fund (CARE) Awards $1.5 Million to Recruit World-Class Researchers to State

By Empire Health Foundation
Sep 11, 2018

Spokane, Wash.—The Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE), a public-private partnership that supports cancer research in Washington, announced today its second round of grant awards totaling $1.5 million to leading research scientists with the aim of advancing cancer research in the state.

Individual grants of $500,000 were awarded to three new CARE Fund Distinguished Researchers, all of whom are hosted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who include: Dr. Geoffrey Hill, a renowned Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) and Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) physician-scientist, whose research focuses on better understanding GVHD pathogenesis with regard to innate and cellular immunity; Dr. Thomas Kensler, an expert in carcinogenesis and chemoprevention whose research focuses on chemoprevention as an opportunity to reduce cancers related to unavoidable environmental exposures; and Dr. Evan Newell, a leading researcher in immune cell characterization. View the grant awardees’ full bios here.

The $1.5 million in awards of public funds to support recruitment and start-up packages for CARE Fund Distinguished Researchers will be matched by more than $10 million in non-state funds committed by the host organization.

“This is an incredibly experienced and internationally-recognized group of researchers who will advance cancer research in our state,” said Eunice Hostetter, Secretary of the CARE Board and the Washington State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “The CARE Fund is pleased to support bringing these talented researchers to Washington. Each researcher builds additional investment in cancer research, carrying the promise of real progress toward improving health."

In addition to making grant awards for Distinguished Researchers, the CARE Board invited 11 full proposals from 17 letters of intent that were submitted for funding from its Breakthrough Research Program. This program will provide funding for innovative, cross-disciplinary research and multi-institution collaborations that aim to find the next big discovery in cancer research. Full research proposals will be submitted in the next few weeks and include lead institutions such as the Community Cancer Fund, Institute for Systems Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and also include participating institutions like the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University, Providence Medical Research Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and leading technology and bioscience companies.

Grant applications for the recruitment of Distinguished Researchers were independently reviewed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and those researchers recommended for funding were approved by the CARE Board. This cohort of Distinguished Researchers was recruited from The University of Queensland, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Singapore Immunology Network.

Based on the objectives of the CARE Fund, applications were reviewed and evaluated on their ability to:

  • Optimize the use of public funds by giving priority to research utilizing the best science and technology with the greatest potential to improve health outcomes;
  • Increase the value of our public investments by leveraging our state's existing cancer research facilities and talent, as well as clinical and therapeutic resources;
  • Incentivize additional investment by requiring private or other non-state resources to match public funds;
  • Create jobs and encourage investments that will generate new tax revenues in our state; and
  • Advance the biotech, medical device, and health care information technology industries in Washington.

Previous awardees include Dr. James Heath, President of the Institute for Systems Biology and Dr. Heather Greenlee a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

About the Andy Hill CARE Fund

Washington State is home to world-class cancer research and care centers. With the establishment and funding of the Andy Hill Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Fund, Washington State affirmed its commitment to saving lives, relieving pain and suffering, and reducing long-term health costs through sustained investment in cancer research. 

Created by the Legislature in 2015, the law (Chapter 43.348 RCW) enables the State to provide up to $10 million annually for 10 years to exclusively fund cancer research in Washington State. The fund is built on a public-private partnership model and incentivizes additional investment by requiring private or other non-state resources to match state funding.

The Andy Hill CARE Fund is projected to fund approximately 15 Distinguished Researchers and three Breakthrough Research Projects by 2020. To date, $3.5 million has been awarded for the recruitment of seven world-class cancer researchers and an additional $20 million has been committed by non-state resources to match state funding. 

The CARE Board, appointed by the Governor, includes Elaine Albert (Seattle Children’s Hospital), Leslie Alexandre (Life Science Washington), Frederick Appelbaum (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Thomas Brown (Swedish Cancer Institute), David Byrd (University of Washington Medicine), Weihang Chai (Washington State University), Carol Dahl (The Lemelson Foundation), Steven Harr (formerly, Juno Therapeutics), James Hendricks (Seattle Children’s Research Institute), Eunice Hostetter (American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network), and Jennifer Kampsula Wong (American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network).