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Dr. Marie Bleakley Named Gerdin Family Endowed Chair for Leukemia Research

By September 6, 2018No Comments

The phone call came in 2016 from a parent who was desperate to save her son.

As a pediatric leukemia specialist, Dr. Marie Bleakleywas all too familiar with the challenge that the mother on the line, Nicole Gerdin, recounted. Her young son, Nick, had just had his aggressive leukemia put into remission by an experimental therapy, she explained. But his doctors had recommended that he get another grueling therapy, a bone marrow transplant, to give him the best chance of a long-term cure.

So the Iowa family was scouring the country for the best place to take Nick for that lifeline. Everyone they consulted in their search always mentioned one institution: Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where Bleakley is a faculty member. So they called.

On the line, Bleakley’s quiet voice radiated calm and expertise. The family “could tell just by talking to her that we needed to come to Seattle,” said Mike Gerdin, Nicole’s husband and Nick’s dad.

That call was the genesis of the Gerdin family’s trip to Seattle for Nick’s transplant in October 2016. Today, Nick is doing well, an avid athlete who loves his cats.

The call was also a beginning for Bleakley.