Colleen S. Delaney, MD

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Washington School of Medicine
Director, Cord Blood Transplant Program; Associate Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Medical Oncology
“Dr. Delaney's philosophy in caring for children is to educate the entire family, not just the patient, with respect to their disease and treatment options. "In doing so, it is my goal to provide not only information, but a source of support, such that the family and patient, with guidance, feel better able to make health-care decisions. Additionally, I feel it is important to remember that every patient is unique, and I strive to maintain and improve the patient’s quality of life in any treatment decisions made."”
— Dr. Delaney
Why do you practice oncology?

While Colleen Delaney, MD, MSC considers childbirth as a miracle in itself, she also sees its potential to offer a miracle of another kind—a cure for cancer. By harnessing the healing power of umbilical cord blood, Dr. Delaney, an oncologist and researcher working with Dr. Irwin Bernstein's laboratory, is pioneering a treatment that may prove to be a landmark breakthrough for leukemia patients. In Dr. Delaney's hands, cord-blood stem cells offer hope to desperately ill leukemia patients by helping them replace ravaged blood systems. Medical researchers have long known that cord blood is a potential source of stem cells—which are not the same as embryonic stem cells—for transplants to treat leukemia and other blood diseases, but the small number of these cells in each unit collected has hampered its use. Dr. Delaney and her lab colleagues have toppled this barrier by developing a technique that expands the cells 150-fold, making cord-blood transplants a possibility for adults. Cord blood has advantages as a stem-cell source. It is readily available, fewer viral infections are transmitted with it, and it doesn't require the extremely close genetic matching of bone-marrow transplants. That makes it especially promising for the 16,000 leukemia patients diagnosed each year who can't find a matching bone-marrow donor—many of whom are of mixed ethnic or racial ancestry. So far, a handful of patients have undergone the new treatment with very positive results. Dr. Delaney began her oncology career intending to treat children with cancer. She said she loves the strength and courage with which kids confront a scary trial like cancer. "They're throwing up one second, and the next moment they're asking, 'Wanna play?'" she said. But to her surprise, she was drawn to research as her primary focus. "I love caring for patients, but being a doctor opened my eyes to the potential of research, where I realized I can really change things for a lot of people. That drives me," Dr. Delaney said. "It's very important for me to have my hand in patient care, but I also want to fix the problems and that only happens through research." As a physician in Bernstein's lab, Dr. Delaney recognized the significant potential of moving laboratory findings forward to advance patient care. She credits Bernstein with urging her to build her career in research. She's also quick to acknowledge the lab staff, some who have toiled for 25 years on cord-blood stem cell expansion. "The work I do would not be possible at many places," she said. "It's such a collaborative place, and the facilities are critical, too. I do not work in a vacuum." "Translating laboratory findings to the patient bedside is no small feat. And when the time finally comes and a patient agrees to take a step forward with a new treatment, the feeling is without description—excitement, anxiety and hope," Dr. Delaney said. "Then when the treatment works, there isn't anything more gratifying."

Oncologist A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment, such as treating cancer with radiation. A physician who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer. Some oncologists specialize in a particular type of cancer treatment. For example, a radiation oncologist specializes in treating cancer with radiation. Stem cell A cell from which other types of cells develop. For example, blood cells develop from blood-forming stem cells. Stem cell A cell from which other types of cells develop. For example, blood cells develop from blood-forming stem cells.

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Wesleyan University
Medical Degree
Harvard Medical School
University of California, San Francisco, Pediatrics
University of Washington, Dept. of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program
Board Certification
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 2004, American Board of Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco, Internship


Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Your care team

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.


SCCA accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

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