Having earned the distinguished title of a professor emeritus in 2006, Ingegerd Hellström, MD, PhD, previously served as a faculty member at the University of Washington in Seattle for 40 incredible years. During this time, she notably instructed students as a professor of microbiology, pathology and immunology. She also had the opportunity to conduct extensive medical research throughout her tenure on campus. Dr. Hellström formerly excelled as a research associate and assistant professor in the Department of Tumor Biology at her alma mater, Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm between 1959 and 1966.
Apart from her commitments at the University of Washington, Dr. Hellström was active on the general assembly for the GM Research Foundation. She has also served as a member of the external advisory committee for the Specialized Center for Cancer Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine since 1991. Dr. Hellström’s professional endeavors have included membership with several industry-related organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Association of Immunologists, the American Federation of Clinical Research, the American Association of Cancer Research and the Society of Biological Therapy.
During her extensive career in the field, Dr. Hellström was notably aligned with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle as the head of the program between 1975 and 1983. She was subsequently acquired by Oncogen/Bristol-Myers Squibb as its vice president from 1986 to 1990 and as the vice president of the Division of Immunological Diseases from 1990 to 1997. Recruited by Pacific Northwest Research Institute, Dr. Hellström devoted another seven years as an investigator until 2004.
As a seasoned researcher, Dr. Hellström and her husband, Karl Erik Hellström, published over 500 studies in manuscripts through the Hellström Group. These studies provided some of the first evidence that cancers are recognized by the immune system, but that the immune response is blocked by molecules that are provided by both the tumor and the host. Dr. Hellström has also served on various editorial and advisory boards for several scholarly journals, and she continues to serve as an associate editor for Cancer Research since 1995, a role she fulfilled on two occasions before. Notably, Dr. Hellström’s research has resulted in the acquisition of 17 U.S. patents and one UK patent.
Dr. Hellstrom always had an interest in helping sick people. She was often encouraged by her husband Karl, who also aspired to cure cancer. The two shared similar ideas on helping to improve the treatment of cancer and worked together to do so. A memorable moment for Dr. Hellstrom was how she and her husband displayed the fact that immunology response plays a major role in the treatment of cancer.
Pursuing an education in her native Stockholm, Dr. Hellström attained an MD at the Karolinska Institute in 1964, followed by a PhD in medicine/tumor biology in 1966. Recognized early in her career for her accomplishments, she was recognized with a Lucy Wortham James Award from the Ewing Society in 1971, a Matrix Table Award in 1972, a Pap Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Research from the Papanicolaou Cancer Research Institute in 1973 and a National Award from the American Cancer Society in 1974. Dr. Hellström later received a Humboldt Award in Western Germany in 1980.