The Martin ”Mac” Cheever Memorial Research Fund will support Fred Hutch’s work in global oncology, with a preference for funding its work in Uganda and the training and mentoring of the next generation of research scientists. The Fund will consist of a permanent endowment component which will be invested for the long term and a current use component which can be used immediately to carry out the memorial fund’s goal and purpose. Gifts will be split equally between the two funds.
Dr. Martin “Mac” Cheever was a physician-scientist and a pioneer in the development of lifesaving immunotherapies at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where he began his career in the earliest days of the Seattle institution.
Cheever died on Sept. 23 from complications following heart surgery. He was 77.
Beloved for his calm demeanor, generosity and wit, the oncologist is respected for his work as one of the first bone marrow transplant physicians at Fred Hutch and for his laboratory studies in the late 1970s that convincingly showed the immune system might be harnessed to stop cancer.
He is also renowned for his years of dedication in building a nationwide system of clinical trials to prove these new therapies are safe and effective for cancer patients.
Throughout his career, Cheever advanced understanding in a new field that eventually led to therapies such as checkpoint inhibitors, which boost the body’s natural immune response to cancer, and CAR T cells, which are immune cells genetically engineered to target tumors.
His work on tumor-related proteins that trigger immune responses also informed ongoing development of cancer vaccines. Although his early research focused on blood cancers, he gradually shifted his emphasis to solid tumors, such as those of the lung, skin, kidney and pancreas.
Cheever was a backer of environmental causes and an avid electric bike rider. He supported developing the 285-mile Palouse to Cascades Trail and had ridden most of it. He had planned to complete the remaining link to Idaho, south of Spokane, after recovering from surgery.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Linda, of Mercer Island, Washington; his sons Alexander, of Mercer Island, and Paul, of Seattle; his brother Carl, of Seattle; and his sister Martha Richardson, of Lincoln, Nebraska.