Scientific American honors cancer researcher Colin Pritchard

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UW Medicine’s Dr. Colin Pritchard, a leader in molecular diagnostics for cancer, has received the Catalyst for Precision Medicine Award from Scientific American.

The honor includes a $50,000 donation, which Pritchard has directed to UW Medicine for students focused on cancer diagnostics.

Pritchard is a professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.  He heads Precision Diagnostics for the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and co-directs the UW Medicine Genetics and Solid Tumors Laboratory

“This award underscores UW Medicine’s national reputation for innovation and excellence in precision medicine,” said Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, CEO, UW Medicine, and dean of the UW School of Medicine. “Colin has distinguished himself over the past 20 years for his development of specialized cancer testing using genetic sequencing, as well as novel non‑invasive diagnostics to guide therapies, especially for prostate cancer. I greatly appreciate his generosity to designate these funds to the future of UW Medicine’s research.”

The award was announced Oct. 19 in a virtual ceremony. It is part of the Cancer Community (C2) Awards, which are selected by an independent panel of judges run by Scientific American Custom Media in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca

“Dr. Pritchard personifies the concept of precision medicine,” said Jeremy A. Abbate, publisher of Scientific American. “He has developed molecular tests for a variety of cancers, thereby leading to better targeted treatments. More than 100,000 patients have benefitted from his extraordinary work.”

Pritchard remarked that he is "tremendously grateful for this truly is an unexpected honor.  He recognized the team of scientists and technical staff in his lab, as well as his mentors Dr. Peter Nelson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who is a leader in prostate cancer therapy research, and Mary-Claire King of UW Medicine, a pioneer in breast cancer genetics. 

Pritchard’s primary focus is developing innovative molecular diagnostics for the detection of mutations that guide therapeutic decision-making. As an example of this innovation, his lab created and validated the “UW‑OncoPlex™” assay, a multiplexed next generation sequencing gene panel that detects mutations in tumor tissue in more than 350 genes related to cancer treatment decision making.

 “This is an exciting time to be working in precision medicine,” he said. “The advances we have made in recent years in cancer treatment are leading us to a future of interventional genomic medicine, and life-saving individualized treatments for cancer patients. I am humbled to be playing a part in this future.”

Dr. Jay Shendure, scientific director of the Brotman Baty Institute, noted that Pritchard “has been recognized by faculty, administrators, clinicians, and, of course, patients for his commitment to advancing precision oncology” and that “all of us at BBI, representing UW Medicine, the Fred Hutch, and Seattle Children’s, congratulate our colleague on this prestigious award.”

Please see the C2Awards page, which has a link to a short video documentary about Pritchard below his photograph. 

written by Dean Owen, Brotman Baty Institute

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