A Message from Our CEO/Director

Mary Beckerle
Mary Beckerle, PhD


At Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), it’s more than a word. It’s the standard to which we hold every aspect of our organization.

Exceptional means a willingness to take a critical look at your work and honestly ask if your contributions make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families. Exceptional requires bold vision, a willingness to take risks, and nimble recalibration when things aren’t working as planned. It means patient satisfaction ratings in the 99th percentile nationwide. It means novel research published in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals and supported by the best funding agencies. It means the most innovative clinical trials for our patients.

Exceptional is the standard we set for ourselves. HCI’s world-class, state-of-the-art cancer research programs were awarded status as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2015. The highest designation possible, our peers include distinguished institutions such as MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Dana- Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard University.

And 2016 may be the start of our most exceptional achievements yet. After President Obama announced his Cancer Moonshot Initiative during the 2016 State of the Union, the man he put in charge of “mission control,” Vice President Joe Biden, came to HCI to learn about how our unique resources can be applied on a national scale to accelerate cancer research and save lives. HCI has shown how exceptional assets like the Utah Population Database—the largest of its kind in the world that combines family histories with medical records—can be used to find some cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages, and sometimes stop cancer from ever occurring using precision prevention. The Vice President heard about how HCI works to eradicate cancer disparities across the vast Mountain West, and how we work on innovative cancer care approaches to improve treatments for people with cancer and their caregivers.

Some say curing cancer is impossible. Being exceptional means knowing that nothing is impossible. I am inspired by the words of our founder, Jon M. Huntsman: “I have always viewed hurdles and challenges as opportunities to move ahead.”

The bar could not be higher. The challenge could not be greater. We all must be committed to exceptional if we are to take this “cancer moonshot”—one of the greatest challenges ever known. Nothing less than exceptional is acceptable as we move ahead.

Sincerely yours, 
Mary Beckerle, PhD 
CEO and Director, HCI