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Frederick Appelbaum, A World Expert In Blood Cancers, Named Deputy Director Of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Working to share research advances with the community

Appelbaum's responsibilities also will include ensuring that the Hutch's clinical research advances are effectively shared with the medical community, particularly in the area of cutting-edge cancer diagnostic tools that help inform the best treatment based on the genetic and molecular characteristics of cancer.

"It used to be that cancer was defined by the organ involved: breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer. However, today we know that there are many genetic subtypes of these cancers. Understanding the genetics behind the cancer lets us choose therapies that are more precise and more effective," Appelbaum said. "Tests we've developed in collaboration with UW to genetically profile tumors frequently are not used by practitioners locally and regionally. I will work to make sure our research results are better implemented by the medical community."

In addition to leading the Fred Hutch Clinical Research Division for the past two decades, Appelbaum since 1998 has served as head of the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and president of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the cancer-treatment arm of Fred Hutch, UW and Seattle Children's.

While Appelbaum will remain president of SCCA, he will step down as director of the Fred Hutch Clinical Research Division and UW Division of Medical Oncology. Plans for transition are being finalized.

A leader in the research and treatment of leukemia and other blood cancers

Appelbaum's research focuses on the biology and treatment of leukemias, lymphomas and other blood cancers. He was the lead author of the first paper to describe the successful use of autologous bone marrow transplantation, a therapy now used in more than 30,000 patients annually. He was also a key contributor to the discovery and development of gemtuzumab ozogamicin, known commercially as Mylotarg, the first monoclonal antibody approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

Appelbaum joined the faculties at Fred Hutch and UW in 1978 after receiving his medical oncology fellowship training at the National Cancer Institute. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College (cum laude) and Tufts University School of Medicine, and he completed his internal medicine training at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

The 'father of bone marrow transplantation' recruited Appelbaum to Fred Hutch

Appelbaum was recruited to the Hutch by his role model, the late E. Donnall Thomas, M.D., the "father of bone marrow transplantation."  Thomas, director emeritus of the Clinical Research Division, in 1990 received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for pioneering the lifesaving procedure, which, Appelbaum estimates, has been used in more than 1 million patients worldwide.

"In my second year of medical school in 1970 I happened to stumble across Don Thomas' initial description of the first use of human marrow transplantation to successfully treat a patient with leukemia. I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever read," Appelbaum recalled.

After completing his medical school and house officer training, while doing transplantation research at the NCI, Appelbaum optimized methods for cryopreservation of human bone marrow and led the aforementioned first clinical trial that demonstrated the utility of autologous (self-to-self) marrow transplantation.

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