Frederick R. Appelbaum, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Bone marrow transplantation
I envision a future where cancer can be managed instead of feared.”
Why do you work with patients who have blood cancers?
When I was a medical student in the 1970s, I read an article about the first attempts at bone marrow transplantation in humans, and I couldn’t put it down. It was like a lock and key — that’s what I wanted to do. A year later, I met a patient with a blood disorder who was in her thirties, and there wasn’t much we could do for her. It was so sad. I kept thinking that if we could just make bone marrow transplants work, her disease would be curable. My commitment to helping patients like her grew deeper; I eventually joined the team at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that was turning this avant-garde procedure into a reality.
Specialties and clinical expertise
The branch of medicine a provider practices and their areas of focus
Bone Marrow Transplantation
I am a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and other blood cancers. In 1978, I was the lead author on the first paper to describe the successful use of autologous bone marrow transplantation, a therapy now used in more than 30,000 patients annually. I was also active in the development of Mylotarg™, the first antibody-drug conjugate (a type of targeted drug therapy) approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. Since then, my research has focused on refining stem cell transplant procedures and developing non-transplant approaches to blood cancers.
In addition to caring for patients and conducting clinical trials, I also serve as the executive vice president and deputy director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In this role, I foster the growth of the organization and lead strategic research partnerships with the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. In 2019, I was one of 22 fellows elected to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy.
What's it like to work with you?
The greatest quality a physician can have is empathy. I know that it could easily be me on the other side of the table or bed, so I treat you the way I would want to be treated, the way I would want my most cherished loved ones to be treated: with respect, compassion and gentleness. It’s an incredible responsibility to care for patients with cancer. Being current on the research is very important, but your needs and wishes are really the focus. I consider it an honor to work with you to help you achieve your goals.