UW News

August 5, 2010

Larry Corey to head Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center board of trustees July 30 announced the selection of Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Corey, an internationally renowned expert in virology, immunology and vaccine development, as its new president and director, effective Jan. 1, 2011.

Corey, a member of the UW School of Medicine faculty since 1977, is a UW professor of medicine and of laboratory medicine, and head of the Diagnostic Virology Division.

A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Medicine, he came to the UW in 1975 as a senior fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases after two years as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

The board selected Corey for his leadership and expertise on a number of fronts, including scientific accomplishments and vision, management record, ability to foster partnerships and his leadership style. As a scientist he is known internationally for his research in infectious disease-related cancers, HIV infection, and medical complications of patients with compromised immune systems.

“The Hutchinson Center is a premier research institution and we needed someone with outstanding scientific and leadership credentials to take on this role,” said Doug Walker, chairman of the Hutchinson Center’s board. I am extremely pleased that Larry has decided to lend his vision and talent to advance the Center to the next level; he’s an outstanding leader and can really represent the Center on a world stage.”

“As the Center’s new president and director, it will be a great privilege to work with our faculty, staff and board members to extend and expand the Center’s excellence,” said Corey, whose academic medical career spans more than three decades. He is perhaps best known for his expertise in leading complex scientific coalitions and partnerships in the United States and abroad. These include an international clinical trials network dedicated to HIV-vaccine development.

“I’m committed to honoring the trust the public holds in the Hutchinson Center as a medical research institution,” Corey said. “I’m committed to being an advocate for the Center’s faculty and scientific programs and extending the scientific breadth of our research in the basic, clinical and public health sciences.”

In particular he cites breakthroughs in bone-marrow transplantation and cancer prevention as examples of major achievements for which the Center is noted.

“Cures of numerous cancers, thanks to bone marrow transplantation which was invented by Nobel Laureate E. Donnall Thomas, and the marked reduction in breast cancer rates that has emanated from the Center’s leading role in the Women’s Health Initiative are just two examples of the pioneering work we will expand upon in the next decade,” Corey said.

“There is an urgent need to understand the complexities of cancer as a diverse biological problem,” he continued. “The Center’s strengths in discovering the genes that alter cell fate and control cell division, coupled with research in immunotherapy to harness the body’s immune system to treat cancer, are critical to developing novel approaches to preventing and treating a host of malignancies.”

Corey’s own research is on novel therapies and vaccines for human viral infections, in particular herpes viruses, HIV and infections related to cancer. He is also particularly interested in expanding the Center’s work in understanding the global health implications of cancer.

Under his leadership, and with partial funding from the United States Agency for International Development, the Center last year established the first American cancer clinic and medical training facility in Africa, a joint effort between the Hutchinson Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute. The facility studies and treats cancer, including Burkitts lymphoma, a childhood malignancy related to viral disease.

In addition to providing first-rate cancer care, the collaboration’s medical training program is devoted to improving the quality of medical education in oncology and increasing the number of practicing oncologists in Uganda. Currently there are just two full-time cancer specialists in the country. Two Ugandan physician-scientists have spent year-long fellowships at the Hutchinson Center. Five more will be trained in the next three years. Ultimately it is hoped that the collaboration will lead to a better understanding of the links between infectious disease and cancer, as well as improved prevention and treatment methods in the United States and abroad.

Corey is principal investigator of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, an international collaboration of scientists and institutions. The network, coordinated at the Hutchinson Center, combines clinical trials and laboratory research to accelerate the development of HIV vaccines. Under Corey’s leadership the network has evolved from research sites in nine American cities to 26 outposts in nine countries on four continents.

In addition to his research, Corey is an infectious disease physician at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and an attending physician in medicine and infectious diseases at UW Medicine. He was also a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s.

He was named one of the Best Doctors in America 2005-2006 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Patient Education and Advocacy from the American Social Health Association. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Corey’s selection caps an international, year-long search to fill the position. After 13 years as president and director, Nobel Laureate Lee Hartwell will retire this fall.

Corey will become the fourth to hold this position in the Center’s 35-year history. In addition to Hartwell, who will continue to be involved with the Center as director emeritus, Corey is preceded by Robert W. Day who led the Center from 1981 to 1997; and Center founder Bill Hutchinson, who served in that capacity from 1972 to 1981.