Huntsman Cancer Institute University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah
The Utah Regional Cancer Center received its NCI designation as a cancer center in 1986. The Center was renamed Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) in 1999. Located at the University of Utah, HCI’s mission is to understand cancer from its beginnings, to use that knowledge in the creation and improvement of new treatments, to relieve the suffering of cancer patients, and to provide education about cancer risk, prevention, and care.
HCI is steward of the Utah Population Database, one of the most comprehensive genetic databases in the world. HCI researchers have discovered several genes that, when mutated, lead to a greater risk of certain cancers, including BRCA1/2 (breast), APC (colon), and p16 (melanoma). Building on this history, HCI developed an alliance with Intermountain Healthcare to share data for research and enable statewide clinical trials. This alliance, the Huntsman Intermountain Cancer Care Program (HICCP), presents an opportunity for enhanced population and outcomes research.
HCI draws 152 researchers from across the University community. HCI’s research portfolio is organized around a cancer genetics theme with five collaborative programs spanning laboratory, translational, clinical, and population science. Two programs focus on laboratory research: Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation (NC) and Cell Response and Regulation (CRR). The other three programs mesh basic research with clinical approaches: Imaging, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics (IDT), Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CCPS), and Gastrointestinal Cancers (GIC).
Researchers at HCI are also affiliated with disease-oriented research teams focusing on cutaneous, breast, hematologic, and pediatric cancers. Training and education are aligned with the University’s Department of Oncological Sciences, which offers programs for doctoral and postdoctoral students.
HCI is particularly focused on genetics and cancer, on understanding cancer at a genetic and cellular level, and creating safer and more effective treatments. One of HCI’s goals is to find undiscovered genes that help explain cancers in families with a strong history of the disease. The Utah Population Database allows scientists to analyze inheritance patterns of cancers in multiple generations of large families.
HCI’s Center for Investigational Therapeutics works closely with the Clinical Trials Office, conducting oncology studies that lead to clinical trials. HCI also supports a series of High Risk Cancer Research Clinics that enroll individuals and families with risk of inherited cancer in research cohorts. In addition to enabling a variety of research studies, the clinics provide education and screening for patients and their families. These clinics focus on colon, melanoma, breast, pancreas, and other cancers and have enrolled thousands of individuals.
Through HICCP, HCI reaches Utah’s underserved rural residents and the seven Native American tribes in the state. HICCP has credentialed physicians statewide and has approved eight cancer clinics for patient care and education that broadly serve Utah.
* This profile was provided by the Huntsman Cancer Institute.