Swedish Health Services launches new cancer research center with $20M from Paul Allen

Image: Allan Jones and Paul Allen
Paul Allen, at right, looks over a slice of brain tissue with Allan Jones, CEO of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, in 2016. (Vulcan Photo)

Swedish Health Services announced the launch of a new research center with $20 million from the late Seattle philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

“Paul was grateful for the care he received at Swedish over the years,” said Jody Allen, trustee of the Paul G. Allen estate, in a statement. She is the sister of Paul Allen, who died in 2018 after a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The gift, described as a personal bequest, was made shortly after Allen’s death.

The Paul G. Allen Research Center at Swedish Cancer Institute will focus on three areas of research and patient care.

  • “The Initiative for Molecular and Genomic Evaluation of Cancer”: The initiative will focus on the collection and analysis of genetic, clinical and molecular data to better understand tumors at a cellular level.
  • “The Center for Immuno-oncology”: Researchers will develop therapies that harness the immune system, using the data collected from patients by the research center.
  • “The Initiative for Cancer Prevention and Early Detection”: This center will advance methods for early detection, which may be key to cancer prevention.

In a video, Swedish physician and researcher Chuck Drescher explained what the new funding means for patients: “Improved and quicker access to the latest and greatest things to treat their cancer.” In addition, clinicians will be better able to “individualize that treatment to their specific situation,” added Drescher.

Allen’s gift “reflects his lifelong belief that to make transformational change to benefit others, you must invest in science and the researchers pushing the boundaries of conventional thinking to solve complex problems,” said Jody Allen.

Swedish has appointed Douglas Kieper as interim program director. According to The Seattle Times, the cancer institute will create a laboratory to handle patient samples at Swedish’s campus and will also develop an informatics lab to assess the molecular makeup of patient tumors.

Swedish Health Services, which is part of Providence, is the largest nonprofit health provider in the Seattle area.

Health/life sciences