The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah its Comprehensive Cancer Center status, the highest designation possible. The announcement was made today in an award letter from NCI to Dr. Mary Beckerle, HCI’s CEO and director. The award was the result of an extensive review process that culminated in a full-day on-site visit by national cancer research experts and thought leaders in the fourth quarter of 2014.
With this new status, Huntsman Cancer Institute joins distinguished cancer centers such as Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard University, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center; recognized among the top cancer centers in the world. HCI is the only cancer center to be designated by the National Cancer Institute in the five-state Intermountain West region, which includes Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada, and which covers more than 17 percent of the continental United States landmass.
The comprehensive cancer center designation recognizes not only the outstanding cancer research, training, and public outreach programs that have long been conducted at HCI, but acknowledges the exceptional depth and breadth of HCI research in each of the three major cancer research areas: laboratory, clinical and population-based research. The designation also recognizes HCI for the impact of its research findings on national cancer care guidelines and improved patient outcomes.
“This designation is the result of professionalism and exceptional expertise of our physicians, scientists, and administrative staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute,” said Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., Huntsman Cancer Institute’s founder and chief benefactor. “Only a small percentage of the nation’s cancer programs have the excellence necessary to receive comprehensive cancer center status. What a difference this will make to the cancer patients in our state, in the region, and in the world.”
An NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center must demonstrate depth and breadth of cancer research, as well as substantial transdisciplinary research that bridges these scientific areas and changes cancer care. In addition, a comprehensive cancer center must demonstrate professional and public education and outreach capabilities, including the distribution of clinical and public health advances in the communities it serves. The evaluation was done by a team of national cancer experts, and included a rigorous scientific review, a competitive grant process, and a site visit.
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah praised the high quality of cancer research conducted at HCI. “I have nothing but praise for the high quality of the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s cancer research, public outreach, and patient treatment,” he said. “We are lucky to have such an extraordinary resource in our state. HCI is truly on the cutting edge of cancer research and provides unmatched care for patients during one of the most difficult times in their lives.”