NPR Highlights Seattle’s Pediatric Cancer Innovator, Jim Olson

Xconomy Seattle — 

People who listen to one of NPR’s most popular shows during their morning routine just found out about the work of one of the important innovators in Seattle’s biotech community.

Listeners to NPR’s nationally syndicated “Morning Edition” show heard two separate in-depth reports this week about the work of Jim Olson, the pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. I’ve written a lot about Olson’s work for Xconomy over the years, especially his development of “tumor paint” technology that is the basis of a Seattle startup called Blaze Bioscience, and his work to create Seattle-based Presage Biosciences. More recently, Olson’s group at the Hutch kicked off a crowdfunding initiative called “Project Violet” to support a peptide-based drug discovery technology.

While Olson has done quite a few interviews in recent years, and has honed his message in a TEDx talk, the Morning Edition show represents an unusual amount of in-depth exposure on the national stage for Seattle biotech, Seattle Children’s and the Hutch. NPR’s Morning Edition says it has 13 million listeners, and the show airs on 600 NPR stations around the U.S.

The first report, a little more than six minutes long, focused on Olson’s work to develop the “tumor paint” that is supposed to help surgeons get rid of all the tumor tissue they can while minimizing damage to healthy parts of the brain. The second report, which runs almost eight minutes, is a profile of Olson and what motivates him to come up with better tools for fighting cancer.

Both of these reports are great examples of thoughtful reporting on the radio. In one spot, you can hear the voice of a 12-year-old boy with cancer as he talks with Olson about his fears after surgery. In the other, you can hear Olson’s kitchen frying pan crackling with stir-fry, during a quiet moment when he has time to think creatively.

Here’s the first report, and the second report, archived on the NPR website for those of you who didn’t hear the show live.