Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) actually provides cancer research to nearly 20% of the lower 48 states of America, meaning that those that live in a massive section of the Intermountain West, from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to Utah, eastern Nevada and western Colorado, come to Salt Lake City for cancer care and research. The importance of the institution to extending and saving lives cannot be emphasized enough. Now the National Cancer Institute (NCI) also recognizes this important fact and has renewed HCI at University of Utah (U of U) as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest federal rank possible for a cancer research organization. The renewal comes with over $29 million for a seven year term, representing an 84% increase in annual awards that the previous award.
Prestigious NCI Renewal
That the NCI renewal process is demanding is an understatement: the process entails a lengthy grant application and review process that includes an intensive, on-site review by a group of national cancer experts (done back in the fall of 2019). This visit, according to the U of U HCI press release, culminated with a near-perfect overall score, placing it within the highest possible exceptional score category: representing the best score in the institution’s history. This means that the cancer research organization has virtually no weaknesses.
Key Comment from the Executive Director
Cornelia Ulrich, PhD, executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at HCI and the grant’s principal investigator, commented for HCI’s press release, “This prestigious award is a testament to HCI’s longstanding commitment to conduct life-saving research and how our teams, right here in Utah, are having an impact on improving cancer outcomes in the Mountain West and across the world.” Ms. Ulrich went on to also thank the HCI correlating such a milestone to the scientists, faculty and staff to the administrators involved on a daily basis.
What’s Happening at HCI?
A lot is going on at HCI since its 2015 NCI review. While recruiting over 70 new cancer researchers, the organization now oversees the work of more than 200 cancer research teams drawn from 34 academic departments and nine colleges at the U of U. In the last half-decade HCI has increased the number of externally funded cancer research programs by 57% and over doubled the number of patients participating in clinical trials based on HCI science that test new ways to improve the treatment of cancer. Over 95% of HCI’s patients actually volunteer to participate in trials, which represents an impressive amount of trust between the institution and its patients. According to Ms. Ulrich, this is so because HCI is a partner to patients.
HCI staff work tirelessly to progress not only the institution and patients but the community. Over the past five years, HCI has invested in training for underrepresented high school students an expanded community outreach to address health equity, a major problem in the Untied State. Hence, the center engages and collaborates with rural, frontier and diverse populations.
Moreover, HCI has doubled the size of its research facilities, opening the Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center in 2017, designed to enhance and strengthen research team collaboration. Now HCI spans over one million square feet of contiguous state-of-the-art cancer research and care space.
Cornelia Ulrich, PhD, executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center
Call to Action: If you live in the Intermountain West and a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, it makes sense to contact Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. Industry sponsors seeking to access one of the top cancer research centers in the world supporting nearly 20% of the lower 48 states as measured in land mass, HCI is a must partner.