There's something about Utah's uncluttered landscape and expansive blue sky that gives Mary Beckerle a sense of mental space. It helps her think, she says, and fuels her desire to explore both mentally and physically. It's the reason the New Jersey native came to the Beehive State in the 1980s to teach at the University of Utah. Thirty years later, she's found herself in the Huntsman Cancer Institute's corner office as its CEO, with wall-to-wall windows overlooking the geography she loves so much.
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Cancer isn’t the first hardship dealt to Carrie Grindle-Lyons. In 2008, she delivered a baby boy at 22 weeks. He was stillborn. Her doctor asked her not to try getting pregnant again right away because she had fibroids in her uterus. They were removed with surgery that left her uterus in place. A year after she lost her baby, Carrie went in for a checkup. What doctors found devastated her. “The fibroids grew back, and they found out I had endometrial cancer,” she says.
To say Annie Budhathoki, DAOM, L.Ac., was skeptical of acupuncture would be an understatement. “I thought acupuncture was the devil’s work,” she says. Then she was in a horrific accident. After more than two years of surgeries and recovery, she still had to walk with a cane. She turned to acupuncture as a last resort to relieve the pain in her leg, and quickly became a believer. After three sessions she was able to walk, cane-free.
SALT LAKE CITY—Officials at University of Utah Health Care (UUHC) today announced that Ben Tanner, Huntsman Cancer Institute’s (HCI) current director of clinical operations and chief operating officer (COO) has been named the cancer hospital’s executive director, replacing Ray Lynch, who is retiring after 13 years of service. Tanner will assume his duties immediately.
Lisa Callister walked into LDS Hospital in 2012 for a routine colonoscopy. She walked out knowing a tumor had been growing unchecked in her colon for about six years. She battled for more than a year as colon cancer ravaged her body. Doctors had to remove the entire organ. But the ordeal might have been avoided, Callister said, if she had previously known that she had Lynch Syndrome, an inherited disorder that increases the risk of many cancers. The gene runs in her family, but Callister, her sister, Emily Scalley, and their siblings had not been tested.
SALT LAKE CITY—Jody Rosenblatt, Ph.D., a cell biologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute and an associate professor of oncological sciences at the University of Utah has been selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Faculty Scholar, HHMI announced today: https://www.hhmi.org/news/philanthropies-announce-selection-faculty-scholars. The award provides $1 million to fund her research over the course of five years.
Thousands of lives could be saved by a simple vaccination to protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Yet only 51% of teens receive the vaccine each year. Every year more than four thousand people die from cancers related to HPV. It's upsetting, it's really upsetting,” says Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, a population scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). “If you ask any cancer survivor whether they would have taken an opportunity to get a vaccine that prevented their cancer, they would say yes.”
Researchers recently revealed in a Nature Genetics paper that they had identified a new gene linked to ALS, a neurodegenerative condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The July announcement was a milestone in the fight against ALS, which affects about 30,000 Americans, and a historic moment in financing disease research.
To look at 52-year-old Mark Wilson, actively keeping up with the high school baseball players he coaches, you'd never know that cancer is tearing his body apart. “It's a sarcoma,” Wilson said. “I was diagnosed with it in October of 1999." He has survived thanks to a strong disposition as well as the strong work of his doctors and nurses.
Improving Cancer Prevention and Care among Underserved Individuals Focus of New Huntsman Center for HOPE
SALT LAKE CITY—Officials at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah today announced the creation of a new center to be housed in the soon-to-be-completed expansion of HCI’s research enterprise, the Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center. The new center will be called the Huntsman Center for Health Outcomes and Population Equity (HOPE) and will focus on discovering new ways to prevent and treat cancer among underserved populations, including individuals living in poverty and residents of rural (between 6.1 and 99.9 persons/sq. mile) and frontier (<6.1 persons/sq. mile) areas.
Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is launching a unique program, called HCI-Total Cancer Care, which will follow patients through cancer screenings, treatments, and into good health throughout their lives. The program, which is borne out of HCI’s membership in the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN), utilizes patient data to help match patients to clinical trials and treatment developments happening across the country, offering never-before-seen access to cutting edge innovations in cancer care, while tracking a patient’s health throughout his or her lifetime.
People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for more cancers than previously thought, says a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine today. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) brought together a group of 21 researchers from around the world to look at more than 1,000 studies linking excess body fat and cancer. Neli Ulrich, PhD, senior director of Population Sciences at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah, was a member of the group. Ulrich is a cancer researcher who studies lifestyle and biologic factors in cancer prevention and cancer prognosis.
Every week, a special visitor appears at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). His job? To cheer up patients fighting cancer and their family members. His name is Misio, and he’s a therapy dog with Intermountain Therapy Animals. Kathy McNulty, a volunteer with the organization, is Misio’s escort. Kathy says Misio has only been coming to HCI for a few months, but she can already see the difference he’s making for patients and their families. “Over and over, I’ve seen tears turn to smiles,” she says. “Misio takes their minds off the procedures.”
Surgery is part of cancer treatment plans in many cases. While surgery is an important part of treatment, recovery from surgery has a major impact on overall health. Strong for Surgery is a program that focuses on making small changes in health before surgery. Making these changes, even just before surgery, can make a big difference in recovery.
P53 – one gene that may hold the key. Humans have two copies, but some people are missing a copy. For individuals with only one working copy of P53, their lifetime risk of cancer is nearly 100 percent. Elephants, after 55 million years of evolution, have 40 copies of the P53 gene. Those extra copies protect elephant’s cells from cancer by eliminating cells that develops any type of mutation that could go on to become cancer.
Individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) have a nearly 100 percent chance of developing colon cancer and often undergo surgery to remove the colon so cancer can’t develop there. A new medication being tested in a clinical trial lead by Jewel Samadder, MD, has shown promising results. The first round of testing shows that in less than six months, half of the patients who received medication saw a nearly 70% regression of polyps. For some, polyps disappeared completely.
Eduardo Ayala was 17 years old when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He is fluent in English and Spanish, but his parents speak only Spanish. Eduardo and his family came to HCI from Nevada for his treatments. It is one of the five Mountain West states at the core of HCI’s service area. Cancer has a language all its own and it’s that much harder if English is not your first language. That’s where Guadalupe Tovar, a health educator and patient navigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), comes in. She helps Hispanic families navigate their cancer care.
The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Awards recognize and support outstanding clinical investigators at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers who participate extensively in NCI- funded collaborative clinical trials and whose leadership, participation, and activities promote a culture of successful clinical research. Established in 2009, the awards are intended to help retain investigators in academic clinical research careers. This year, 13 investigators nationwide, including Theresa Werner, MD, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and University of Utah assistant professor of medicine have received the award.
They call themselves “The Generation to End Cancer.” Sigma Chi fraternity brothers from across the United States sharing one goal – to raise $10 million for cancer research at HCI. For many Sigma Chi brothers, this fight against cancer is personal. Dan Shaver, chairman of the Sigma Chi Philanthropy Committee says, ,”We rarely come across someone whose family isn’t directly or indirectly affected by cancer. I just don’t think we’ll ever rest until we find the cure.” Sigma Chi fraternities raised $1.3 million during the 2015-2016 school year. 29 schools each raised more than $20 thousand dollars and traveled to Salt Lake to be inducted into the 20k club.
At Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), researchers are using the power of Big Data to help prevent cancer. HCI is home of the Utah Population Database (UPDB), a shared data resource that tracks family medical history through many generations. The UPDB is the only database of its kind in the United States and one of few such resources in the world. The UPDB has contributed to important gene discoveries including those for colon cancer (APC), breast cancer (BRCA1), melanoma (p16), and others. Utilizing the UPDB, researchers are able to identify families that have higher than normal rates of certain cancers.
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