Dr. Jennifer Adair

In her Seattle lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. Jennifer Adair leads a team of scientists to find ways to correct genetic code to prevent diseases such as HIV and cancer. But the cutting-edge therapy has a problem: it can only be done in high-tech, sterile labs that exist in just a handful of clinics in elite, developed countries. To make it accessible and affordable worldwide, Adair developed a mobile “gene therapy in a box” technique by combining commercially available technologies with practical molecular and cell biology approaches and then proved the method can be delivered in resource-constrained clinics.

Adair’s scrappy point of view comes from her everyday experience in leveraging available resources to meet a diverse set of needs. At age 19, she was newly married and a new mom. With the help of her family, a corporate scholarship and the U.S. welfare system, she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and then a PhD in genetics and cell biology. She and her husband recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary with their four children.