A Message from the President and Executive Director

Dear Friends,

We’re at an exciting stage in our medical research, where talented minds, innovative technology and donor support are fueling dramatic advances and groundbreaking discoveries in our fight against immune system diseases. Our aim is to advance our understanding of the immune system, both in health and disease, and translate that knowledge as quickly as possible into treatments that improve the lives of people who have autoimmune diseases and allergies. On our pathway to eliminating these diseases, we are learning how to predict, prevent, halt and better treat these chronic, devastating conditions.

Some of our breakthroughs in 2017 included:

  • Discovery of a single cell that drives all allergies. This finding will alter the future course of allergy treatments.
  • Isolating the cells that attack the pancreas in type 1 diabetes and “reprograming” them by editing their genes. This is an enormous step forward in efforts to cure type 1 diabetes and possibly other diseases.
  • Discovery of a unique destructive T cell in type 1 diabetes that could be a target for treatment and a cure.
  • Identifying a new population of immune cells, like those in the skin, that may be important in wound healing and treating autoimmune skin diseases.

Most of these discoveries occurred because of our unique work on uncovering the secrets of the single cell, the focus of this report.

In 2017, our scientists also led four international centers for autoimmune disease research and collaborated with colleagues around the world. They gave 96 scientific presentations, published 74 scholarly articles and received many major grants. They also took on other leadership roles such as editors for international scientific journals and as members of scientific conference committees and of scientific review teams. Our researchers also serve as professors at the University of Washington and mentor postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and summer interns. Their leadership, expertise, collaboration, dedication and curiosity drive our pioneering discoveries.

Jane Buckner, MD, and Homer Lane
Jane Buckner, MD, and Homer Lane

As we make scientific headway today, we’re also looking toward the future to keep our scientific vision big and bold. In 2018, the Benaroya Research Institute Board of Directors, along with scientific and administrative leadership, are creating a Five-Year Strategic Plan. A major challenge will be funding our innovative research and growth. The community support from donors and other organizations has made it possible for us to thrive in an environment where funding from the federal government and others has leveled off. We count on donors' contributions to support our world class science. We need to ensure we can pursue innovative ideas and pilot programs, invest in technology to support big ideas and hire and retain the best and the brightest talent.

We are grateful for our supporters’ generosity and commitment to our mission of improving people’s lives. We also want to thank our biorepository and research participants, volunteers, board members, research sponsors, collaborators and partner organizations, who all contribute to advancing medical research. When we hear people in our clinical trials say, “I can function again! Life is so much better!” we know progress is being made and together we can improve human health.

Sincerely,

Image: Jane Buckner Signature

Jane H. Buckner, MD
President
Benaroya Research Institute

Image: Homer Lane Signature

Homer W. Lane Jr.
Executive Director and CFO
Benaroya Research Institute