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$20 Million Gift From Bezos Family To Support Cancer Therapies At Fred Hutch

Courtesy of Dr. David Maloney
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
CT scans of a patient with stage 4 lymphoma before (left) and five months after (right) treatment with T cells show how tumors melted away.

The family of founder Jeff Bezos has given Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center its largest-ever single gift.

The $20 million donationwill fund research into cancer immunotherapy, a field that uses the body’s own immune system fight tumors. Fred Hutch president Dr. Larry Corey says the line of research is making huge strides.

“Immunotherapy as a field is starting to move out of its toddler stage into its real adolescence,” said Corey/

The Bezos family had already donated $10 million in 2009 to kickstart the effort. Corey says a gift of this size allows researchers to make coordinated advances.

“You have enough money to actually get a team to work together and use multiple technologies and do it on a parallel track rather than on a sequential track. And the difference in that is years,” he said.

Those teams will also include people at the University of Washington and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Immunotherapy has already shown promising results in blood and bone marrow cancers, and recent research suggests it might also be effective in fighting so-called solid tumors, such as lung or colon cancer. 

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.