Dr. Storb concentrates his research efforts on bone marrow transplantation. Although he works primarily in the lab, he spends two months working with patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and two weeks on consult service.
Apply research knowledge in a setting which enable patients to overcome potentially fatal illnesses.
Blood and marrow stem cell transplantation, aplastic anemia
- Member, Clinical Research Division, Head, Transplantation Biology Program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- Professor, Medical Oncology Division, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Germany-A Ludwig University, Freiburg, 1960
Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Storb's journal articles.
Too busy to retire
You won’t find many write-ups about Dr. Rainer Storb; he likes to keep a low profile. But he’s a man with a great history, an active present and an unending future.
Dr. Storb is from Germany. He studied in Munich and Freiburg, was clinically trained there and completed a residency program there as well.
“I did three years of post-doctoral work in Paris in basic research,” Dr. Storb says. “I wanted to do clinical research, so I wrote to three people. One was at the National Institutes of Health, one in Boston, and the other at the University of Washington, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas – he was the youngest of the three and did the most interesting work, so I thought I had a better future with him.”
Dr. Storb joined the University of Washington (UW) in 1965 with a Fulbright Scholarship, back when downtown Seattle’s Smith Tower was considered the tallest building on the West Coast.
Small but powerful
Back in the 1960s, Dr. Storb’s clinical research group at the UW consisted of himself, an instructor, and one lab technician, two animal technicians, an a secretary. Later, Dr. Storb was able to apply for a Green Card and was then able to submit his own grant proposals, which kept him from returning to Germany. Job offers from other institutions tempted Dr. Storb away from the UW over the years, but he decided to stay where he was. “As a division head, I’d get lost in paperwork. It wasn’t hard to turn them down. I wanted to stay active in research and have never regretted it,” he says.
His first four years at the university were in the lab then he began seeing patients in the general oncology clinic at University Hospital. The University of Washington was among the first institutions in the United States to have an oncology division.
As part of the group that founded the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 1975, Dr. Storb left general oncology care to concentrate on bone marrow transplantation, which is where his focus remains.
Today, Dr. Storb is primarily in the lab, but spends two months working with patients at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and two weeks on consult service.
“Patients want to know three things,” he says. “One, that their doctors know medicine, two, that they are on the cutting edge of research, and three, that they have compassion – that they really care.”
When he isn’t in his lab, Dr. Storb can be found sculling from Lake Washington across Lake Union during his daily commute to and from work at the Hutchinson Center, or racing across Puget Sound in one of hundreds of competitions he’s participated in since relocating to the Emerald City more than 40 years ago. He shares his active life with his wife and son, a fellow rower, who both work in Hutchinson Center labs.
“We can never appreciate patients enough for their courage and contributions for clinical research,” says Dr. Storb.
Upcoming Genome Project data will be looked at to see how it can be applied to other cancers while the mini-transplant is being reviewed as a possible treatment for other diseases, like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
The Seattle Consortium, which includes 15 other academic centers in the U.S. and Europe, in addition to the Hutchinson Center, has clinical protocols running since the discovery of the mini-transplant a few years ago.
Studies include a prospective comparison of the mini- versus the traditional transplantation; a national mini-transplant application with multiple myeloma patients; several graft-vs.-host disease protocols; and, how to simplify mini-transplantations.
“The early times were exciting but primitive,” Dr. Storb says. “Then, there was the excitement in the experimentation and the doubts that transplantation would ever work. We worked under a cloud of pessimism. A few years ago, the first mini-transplants bowled us over with their success, giving us a lot of encouragement. Research is always exciting when it translates into better patient care.”