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What We Do

Land Acknowledgement

Huntsman Cancer Institute rests on Indigenous land that reflects the rich history of our state and region. We are committed to honoring, respecting, and protecting the story and the People of this sacred place.

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The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement aligns with the mission, vision, and principles of Huntsman Cancer Institute. Our team includes faculty and staff who collaborate with clinicians, researchers, students, and community partners to address the burden of cancer in the Mountain West.

Health equity is at the forefront of all we do. Our work is made possible by ongoing collaboration and communication between Huntsman Cancer Institute and community partners:

  • We build mutually beneficial partnerships with community-based organization and the populations we serve, including those who have been disproportionately affected by cancer.
  • We work to improve knowledge and awareness of cancer risk factors, prevention, screening, treatment, and enrollment in clinical trials.
  • We create awareness campaigns and share accurate and tailored education through health events, presentations, social media, news outlets, and other venues to reach community members.
  • We aim to eliminate barriers and increase access to care through mobile cancer screening, telemedicine, and partnerships with health systems and primary care associations.
  • We study population health and bring community organizations together to create long-term solutions to prevent cancer and improve health equity.

Community Outreach & Engagement Team

Rachel M. Ceballos, PhD


Senior Director

Garrett Harding


Associate Director

Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW


Associate Director

Kristina Kraenbuhl


Administrative Manager

Allison Foust, MHA, MCHES


Programs Manager

Jill Christian, MPH


Programs Manager

Catherine M. Gavile, PhD


Research Scientist

Nathan Begaye


Program Coordinator

Belem Holguin-Macias


Community Health Educator

Gabriela Silva, CHES


Community Health Educator

“We view the area we serve with a deep sense of responsibility. We are committed to designing, implementing, and delivering strategies to reduce the burden of cancer across the Mountain West.”
Neli Ulrich, PhD, MS Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center
Catchment Area

The Area We Serve

Topographic map of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute serves the Mountain West, a vast, 524,000-square-mile region covering 17% of the continental U.S. land mass. This area includes all of Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a population of nearly 10 million people, Huntsman Cancer Institute serves the largest land area by any National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center.

One of the core activities of Community Outreach and Engagement is to monitor the cancer burden, risk factors, incidence, mortality, morbidity, and inequities in the Mountain West using a data-driven approach.

The Mountain West includes unique characteristics: 

  • It is made up of a total of 169 counties, 158 of which are rural (<100 people per square mile) or frontier (<7 people per square mile).
  • Utah, Idaho, and Nevada all ranked among the top five fastest growing states.
  • It is home to some of the nation’s largest American Indian/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities and a growing Hispanic/Latino population.
  • More than 52,290 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2023.
  • Approximately 15,900 individuals are expected to die of cancer in 2023.

We work closely with comprehensive cancer control programs and cancer coalitions in the Mountain West. Each state creates a State Cancer Plan, which identifies how each coalition addresses the burden of cancer in its state.

Community Partnership

We collaborate and foster bidirectional partnerships with local, state, and regional organizations to engage in activities and projects that cover cancer education, prevention, screening, policy, clinical care, and research.

Bidirectional collaboration enables our programs to reach racially and ethnically diverse groups, those who live in rural and frontier areas, and those who experience socioeconomic and geographic barriers to education, cancer screening services, treatment, and research. We are always looking to form and build relationships with many types of organizations:

  • Businesses
  • Coalitions and alliances
  • Community-based organizations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Hospitals and health care systems
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
“Our teams are devoted to community, near and far, and are passionate about collaborating to improve the health of all Mountain West residents.”
Sachin Apte, MD, MS, MBA Chief Clinical Officer and Physician-in-Chief

Programs, Services, and Activities

American Indian Program

We work with American Indian Tribes and Nations across the Mountain West to bring education, services, and resources to individuals, families, and communities. We engage Tribes in research projects and help navigate patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

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Community Advisory Board

We work with a board of partners from the Mountain West to engage the community in cancer research, clinical care, screening and prevention, and education efforts. The board also helps identify opportunities to improve community health and inform priorities.

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Community Health Events

We attend events to educate, provide materials and connect participants to resources. All services are free and available in English and Spanish. To request our participation, please fill out the health event request form.

Health Event Request Form

Community Presentations

We present to groups  on cancer risk, prevention, screening, clinical trials, and many other topics. All presentations are free, available in English and Spanish, and can be tailored to meet your needs. To request a presentation, please fill out the presentation request form.

Presentation Request Form

Clinical Trials and Research Studies

We educate individuals and communities on clinical trials and research studies, working in collaboration with the Clinical Trials and Population Sciences Trial Offices. We also help build trust in communities and work to offer trials that reflect the diversity of the Mountain West.

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Internship and Training Opportunities

We provide training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in Community Outreach and Engagement. Interns are selected three times a year and work with mentors across activities that aim to improve the health of individuals and communities.

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Mobile Breast Cancer Screening

We bring the latest breast cancer screening technology to Utah residents, in distant and rural communities, as well as underserved urban areas. Community clinics, employers, community organizations, and others can schedule visits to increase access to mammography screening.

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Patient Navigation

We identify and engage with cancer patients and families to help navigate the complex health system, connect to internal and community resources, and access life-saving treatment, among other services.

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Center for HOPE

We serve as a bridge to bring together researchers and community organizations from the Mountain West to create long-term solution to prevent cancer and chronic disease and improve health equity through implementation sciences.

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Clinical Affiliates Hospitals

We extend comprehensive cancer care through the Mountain West, partnering with affiliate hospitals in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming to provide world-class cancer care to patients near their homes.

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Mountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition

We bring together immunization program representatives, cancer researchers, public health experts, pediatricians, primary care specialists, and community members, to improve human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates across the Mountain West.

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