Dr. Rajesh Uthamanthil named associate VP of Shared Resources

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Monday 05/22/2017

As a young doctor fresh out of veterinary school, Dr. Rajesh Uthamanthil took care of cows that had been attacked by leopards and tended to elephants that were part of the rural landscape in the tropical state of Kerala, where he grew up on the west coast of India.

Things have changed since then. After a career that steered him toward medical research — to Madison, Wisconsin, then to Houston, Texas, and ultimately to Seattle — he now provides researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with some of the most advanced scientific resources in the world.

Five years after joining Fred Hutch as director of Comparative Medicine, on May 1 he was named associate vice president of Shared Resources. As such, he is in charge of a dozen core facilities that range from Proteomics, which operates analytical equipment to identify the census of proteins produced by living organisms, to Glassware Services, which cleans and sterilizes the ubiquitous beakers and bottles without which a biological laboratory cannot function. He will continue to direct Comparative Medicine, formerly known as Animal Health Resources, which serves researchers who conduct preclinical studies.

“Shared Resources is mostly about providing complex equipment and services,” said Uthamanthil, who oversees a staff of 116. Whether an employee needs Electron Microscopy or a reference from Arnold Library, the scope of its services is so large that Shared Resources is likely to touch every scientist and technician who works at Fred Hutch — and many who don’t. Shared Resources also provides services to other organizations, including those who work in collaboration with Hutch scientists.

“Well-run Shared Resources that meet our investigators’ needs are critical to our continued scientific excellence,” said Steve Stadum, executive vice president and chief operating officer, who announced the appointment. Uthamanthil has directed the Comparative Medicine core facility since he joined the Hutch in 2012 and has been serving as interim leader of Shared Resources since January. Over the years, he has developed a reputation as a dedicated professional and a relationship builder.

In his new role, Uthamanthil said his charter is to align the work of Shared Resources with the Hutch’s five-year strategic plan, which calls for an increase in interdisciplinary research that cuts across divisional boundaries. To help teams access emerging technologies — another key component of the strategic plan — Shared Resources will invest in cutting-edge equipment and tools. Uthamanthil stressed that a responsive, service-oriented resource program that provides equal access to junior and senior faculty members is a powerful tool for recruiting new talent to the Hutch, which will significantly expand its faculty in the next five years.

Shared Resources is well-positioned to efficiently supply resources across the center, which is particularly important as programs acquire a cross-divisional character. A key example is its support of the newly formed Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center, which includes 42 faculty members from all five of the Hutch’s scientific divisions. Those teams tap a range of Shared Resources’ core facilities, including Immune Monitoring, Experimental Histopathology, Specimen Processing and Genomics.

An effective Shared Resources system is vital to reducing the chores of investigators so they can focus their time on their science, Uthamanthil said. “That’s where we can make a difference.”

Originally published https://centernet.fredhutch.org/cn/n/2017/05/rajesh-uthamanthil-associate-vp-shared-resources.html on May 05, 2017 | Story by Sabin Russell | Photo by Robert Hood