At Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI), we believe intellectual freedom drives medical breakthroughs. PNRI is a nonprofit biomedical research institute, where forward-thinking scientists use innovative approaches to tackle some of the most difficult problems in science and medicine. 

The Institute was founded in 1956 by Dr. William Hutchinson in Seattle, Washington, as a place where scientists were free to pursue discoveries that promised the highest chance of improving human health. The goal was at the beginning, and remains today, to conduct foundational science leading to impactful medical innovations. 

Today, PNRI’s main research domain is genetics, which we believe is at the core of understanding human health and disease. Further, PNRI believes that scientific breakthroughs are found in unexpected places—often at the intersection of multiple scientific disciplines—which is why we place a high value on collaboration. Our relentless pursuit of discovery is fueled by our intrinsic ambition to create a healthier future for all humans.

PNRI’s Novel Approach to Genetic Research

PNRI’s mission is to explore the human body’s innate ability to remain healthy in the face of our individual genetic risks in relationship to the environmental hazards we all encounter. Our scientists unravel the powerful mysteries of the human genome through the lens of “what keeps us healthy” to drive future medical breakthroughs.

Daring to Ask Different Questions

At PNRI, we believe that pursuing answers to the question, “What keeps us healthy?” will lead to innovations in the fight against disease. For example, why, in a family with two children who carry a similar risk of inheriting a genetic disease, does one child contract the disease while the other does not?

While more traditional genetic research has yielded important discoveries for diagnosing and treating disease by focusing on the child who becomes ill, PNRI is turning the question around to uncover how nature prevents disease in the first place.

Fundamental Pillars of PNRI’s Research

In our labs, we apply several tenets to unraveling the question of how our genes and the environment interact to make us resilient or susceptible to developing disease:

We know that genes do not act in isolation—they act together, evolve over time, and are influenced by the environment in which we live.

We focus on systems, investigating the interactions between genes operating as a complex network.

We seek to understand the role of those parts of the genome that protect us from developing disease.

We examine the unexplored parts of the genome to better understand how the non-coding parts of our genetic material can influence human health and disease.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work in each of our seven labs and dive deeper into the thought-provoking questions that drive our research.

“Since the founding of PNRI by Dr. William Hutchinson more than 60 years ago, its scientists and their teams have made countless discoveries in diabetes, rare diseases, cancer, and other diseases. Today, with research technologies and scientific understanding that didn’t exist as recently as ten years ago, these teams are advancing the frontiers of knowledge.” 

Jack Faris, PhD
Interim CEO