Fred Hutch’s president says a new strain of virus research center is needed to fight future outbreaks

Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center already has dozens of scientists engaged on infectious illnesses, together with COVID-19 — however the center’s president and director, Thomas Lynch, says the research group is going to have to kick issues up a notch to head off future pandemics.

His prescription? Create establishments like Fred Hutch which can be devoted to virology.

“I really feel strongly about this,” Lynch, a veteran medical physician and researcher who took on the Hutch’s prime submit lower than 4 months in the past, mentioned right now throughout a web based dialog offered by way of Zoom for GeekWire members. “I feel virology wants a ‘most cancers facilities’ program, OK?”

Lynch identified that the Nationwide Most cancers Institute has designated dozens of comprehensive cancer centers, together with Fred Hutch, to conduct research into all facets of the illness, from its molecular and genetic roots to its behavioral results.

“We want the identical factor in virology,” he informed GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop. “As a result of guess what’s going to occur? In two years, we’re going to be over COVID. We’re going to be by COVID. However there’s going to be one other coronavirus. 5 years later, there’s going to be one other Ebola virus. There’ll be extra retroviruses. The viruses shall be with us so long as humanity is round, and we want the power to quickly reply.”

The Seattle space already has a vibrant group of virologists and epidemiologists — at Fred Hutch and different establishments together with the College of Washington, the Infectious Illness Research Institute, Seattle Youngsters’s and the Institute for Illness Modeling. However Lynch mentioned “we want to be doing this collectively in a coordinated manner,” and creating a nationwide community of virus research facilities would assist.

Within the meantime, Lynch isn’t simply ready round: He pointed to the Hutch’s effort to create an outpatient scientific trial center, in order that research relating to COVID-19 might be expanded past hospital settings.

One research mission, generally known as CovidWatch, is monitoring people who are at risk of contracting COVID-19, together with employees at grocery shops and homeless shelters. One other scientific trial, funded by the family of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, entails testing Fred Hutch’s personal staff as they return to work on the South Lake Union HQ, to search for indicators of the virus or the antibodies sparked by an an infection.

“We’re utilizing that to information bringing individuals again,” Lynch mentioned. “Our sturdy hope is to let all people again inside the subsequent month — all people again who’s doing laboratory research.”

Lynch mentioned it’ll take a whereas longer to convey different staff again to the workplace. “We now have individuals who can work remotely,” he mentioned, “and they need to, as a result of it reduces the quantity of individuals utilizing public transport, the quantity of individuals out within the public that may probably transmit community-based virus.”

Amongst different highlights from right now’s discuss:

Replace for 10:25 a.m. PT Might 22: The research involving returning Fred Hutch staff was supported by a present from the Bezos household, somewhat than the Bezos Household Basis.

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