James Olson MD, PhD


Dr. Olson's laboratory uniquely combines the disciplines of clinical, basic, and translational research to develop new and targeted treatments for pediatric brain tumors and other diseases. Tumor tissue directly from surgical resection is used to establish patient-derived primary cell lines and tumor lines that grow as brain xenografts in mice. These patient-derived cancer models are subjected to high throughput screening to identify novel therapeutic targets. We recently used a genome-wide RNAi screen to identify PHF5a as a novel gene required for glioblastoma (Hubert et. al., Genes and Development 27:1032-1045; 2013). This work showed that PHF5a helps with proper messenger RNA splicing in cancer cells and provides a lead for novel glioblastoma therapies. The Olson lab pioneered the clinical use of small cysteine-rich proteins called knottins or when it conjugated a fluorescent dye to chlorotoxin to develop 'Tumor Paint'. Tumor Paint accumulates in cancer cells and is used to help surgeons distinguish tumor from healthy brain tissue during surgery. It is currently in clinical trials. Building on this work, the Olson, Strong, Paddison, and Simon labs have developed a new peptide drug discovery platform at Fred Hutch. The 'optide' (optimized peptide) platform integrates advanced protein design in silico with a proprietary protein production platform to discover and develop drugs for cancer and neurologic diseases.


Fred Hutch Clinical Research Professor
University of Washington School of Medicine Pediatrics Professor
University of Washington School of Medicine Pathology and Pharmacology Adjunct Professor
Seattle Children's Hospital Cancer & Blood Disorders Center Attending Neurooncologist