Our Vision for the Future of Cancer Care and Research
To meet the health care needs of the future, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s are laying the groundwork for a historic cancer partnership aimed at bringing leading-edge research to patient care for children and adults.
This is a time of tremendous momentum in cancer care and research. Breakthroughs in science are fueling a revolution in how we treat and cure disease. Our work is saving and extending lives, even for patients with advanced cancers.
Fred Hutch, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s founded Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) 20 years ago. Together, our four organizations have come a long way toward achieving our shared vision of leading the world in helping prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, and ultimately, discover cures.
Now, we are poised to accelerate our work.
Learn more about our organizations:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is being announced?
The founding members of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are exploring a restructure of their longtime alliance as part of an ongoing effort to advance a shared mission of diagnosing, treating and pioneering cures for cancer and other diseases. Our plan is to have an adult-focused clinical program led by a newly created Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and a separate pediatric clinical program led by Seattle Children’s. These programs would be collaborative and driven by the innovative cancer research at Fred Hutch, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s.
What is Seattle Cancer Care Alliance?
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance was formed in 1998 as a partnership among Fred Hutch, Seattle Children’s and UW Medicine. Over the past 20 years, SCCA has provided care to more than 190,000 cancer patients through nine SCCA-operated treatment centers across Washington state.
How will the partnership between members of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance change?
Under the new structure, SCCA and Fred Hutch would merge to form Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, an independent, private, not-for-profit organization. As part of the merger, all SCCA clinical sites would be renamed “Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.” Adult clinical care provided through SCCA today would be provided through Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center would be UW Medicine’s cancer program and operate as a clinically integrated part of UW Medicine, with the senior leadership of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center becoming members of the UW Medicine senior management team. Members of UW Physicians (UWP), who are School of Medicine faculty, would provide cancer care at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and other parts of UW Medicine.
In addition to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center’s clinical programs (formerly named “SCCA adult cancer programs”), the organization would provide programmatic oversight of the adult oncology clinical programs at UW Medical Center, creating a unified adult oncology program. Seattle Children’s would continue operating independently and be the central site for pediatric cancer care among the organizations.
Our goal in creating a unified, clinically integrated adult oncology program is to provide a seamless and consistent experience for cancer patients and oncologists and across other parts of UW Medicine that interact with the adult cancer program, such as primary care, diagnostics and support services. Over the next few months, we will work to further define what this operational model would look like.
What is the vision for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and how would it be different than the current Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center?
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center would result from the merger of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and SCCA, creating one unified organization. Like both Fred Hutch and SCCA are today, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center would be an independent, private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to translating scientific discovery into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of cancer and related diseases. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center would be UW Medicine’s cancer program and operate as a clinically integrated part of UW Medicine. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center also would provide programmatic oversight over the oncology services provided by UW Medical Center.
As one organization, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center would build on the strengths of SCCA and UW Medicine’s nationally recognized adult cancer care programs and outstanding clinical care with Fred Hutch and UW School of Medicine’s leading-edge science. The creation of a single organization that is clinically integrated with other parts of UW Medicine would better position the parties to improve the patient experience and advance the overall mission of UW Medicine and the vision for the new Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Furthermore, it would allow us to build an aligned clinical program that improves our ability to serve more patients in our community, in the region and beyond.
Why is this restructure being explored?
For the past two decades, SCCA’s members have worked together to create a clinical research and care program that leads the world in helping prevent, diagnose, treat and pioneer cures for cancer. But cancer care and research have changed significantly over the past 20 years, and we now have a deeper understanding of disease and how to prevent, diagnose and treat it. We also have a deeper understanding of our strengths in cancer care and research, as well as the complexity that our current structure creates.
We believe that our structure must evolve to be more aligned and agile than it is today. Our ultimate goals are to accelerate research, improve patient care, and increase every patient’s chance for a better outcome.
How have events of the past year informed these plans?
SCCA and its members have regularly reviewed and discussed approaches to strengthening our collaboration since we began our shared work 20 years ago. The experiences of the past year – from the COVID-19 pandemic to the nation’s reckoning with racial inequities – have only amplified the urgency and potential impact of evolving our approach.
Each of our organizations rose to the challenges of the COVID pandemic, demonstrating our ability to innovate, uphold our commitment to our patients, and advance research even against the backdrop of pandemic restrictions. We led the world in pushing the science forward as quickly as possible – developing new COVID tests and processing tests from across the country, conducting real-time surveillance, and providing a leadership role in the clinical trials that resulted in unprecedented speed of vaccine development. We delivered hundreds of thousands of vaccines to our community. By example, we showed what is possible when health organizations rethink their processes and approach.
Equally important, events of the past year have highlighted the deep correlation between social inequities and poorer health outcomes, including for cancer patients. Our organizations are strongly committed to addressing health inequities, so that our research and care benefit all patients. And we seek to build an inclusive Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center that would embrace the diversity of experience, background, and perspectives that drive innovation and support a thriving workforce.
When would this restructure take place?
In the coming weeks and months, leaders from the four organizations will be discussing the restructure with governing boards, faculty, staff, labor partners, government officials and other stakeholders to inform the plan. Assuming we have obtained all required board and regulatory approvals, we anticipate launching Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in early 2022 without interruption to patient care.
How would this restructure improve cancer care and research?
We believe the proposed restructure and arrangement for programmatic oversight of UW Medicine cancer programs would offer greater organizational alignment and agility than our alliance has today. The proposed structure is being designed to improve our patients’ experience, further reduce the time from research to the delivery of breakthrough treatments and improve the structures that shape our planning and communication to patients, partners and employees, and collectively inspire donors to support our mission. We also believe that creating Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and moving forward under this new structure would further strengthen our organizations’ contributions to Washington state in health care delivery, economic growth and a robust life sciences industry.
Would there be any changes to patients’ current care (such as physician or location of care)?
The new organization would not make changes to patients’ doctors or care teams as part of this transition. Patients will continue to receive the superior care that they have come to expect from us. In fact, through the restructure we expect to improve the patient experience and bring even more innovation to patients and their families.
Would there be any changes to the current research programs at the partner organizations?
Under the new structure, the vaccine and infectious diseases, basic and human biology, computational science, and public health research conducted at Fred Hutch would continue as part of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and UW-based research would remain at UW. The partnership between UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s would continue, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and Seattle Children’s Research Institute would also work together to advance pediatric oncology research.
How would this announcement affect current and/or future philanthropic support to the partner organizations?
We are grateful to all those who support Fred Hutch, UW Medicine, Seattle Children’s and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. During this planning phase, there won’t be any change to how philanthropy is handled across the organizations. We remain committed to ensuring every gift advances our shared commitment to helping prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, and ultimately, discover cures – regardless of which organization receives the donation.