Feb 29, 2016 9:00 AM


Joe Biden visiting HCI
Joe Biden visiting HCI

Vice President Biden tours world-class facility and participates in roundtable discussion with researchers and Institute leaders.

SALT LAKE CITY - (February 26, 2016) – Today Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) hosted Vice President Joe Biden as a part of the White House administration’s “moonshot” initiative to double the rate of progress toward curing cancer. During his visit, the vice president toured the facility, was given an inside look at the Utah Population Database and participated in a roundtable discussion comprised of Huntsman Cancer Foundation board chairman Jon Huntsman Jr., CEO and director of HCI Dr. Mary Beckerle and Senator Orrin Hatch. Local cancer survivors and physicians, researchers and experts in the field also participated in the roundtable.

The vice president’s visit to Huntsman Cancer Institute is part of a national tour during which he has traveled to cancer institutes around the country to discuss the “moonshot” effort and collaborate with researchers and physicians to find solutions to accelerate progress toward treating, preventing and curing cancer.

“I know science will catch up. This is about aggregating the intellectual, moral, emotional, scientific and capital elements in this country and do within five years what would otherwise take us 10 to 15 years to do,” said Biden. “I think we can do that. And that means thousands of lives saved and millions of lives affected.”

During the discussion, Huntsman said he hoped everyone would walk away with an understanding of three things that he views as chiefly important to the progress of cancer research: the power of community collaboration, the power of the Utah Population Database and the importance of rural and frontier cancer care.

“You can go to Philadelphia, you can go to New York City, but it’s rare that you go to a cancer institute with this kind of rural outreach. We have Native Americans, veterans and other minority groups who otherwise would not be able to access cancer treatment,” said Huntsman. “We have rewritten the rules, so to speak, on how to cover and provide best practices for how to care for these people. What we do here is truly unique.”

HCI holds Comprehensive Cancer Center designation by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the five-state Intermountain West. Researchers and physicians chimed in to talk about precision prevention, the Utah Population Database (UPDB) and other solutions that make Huntsman and the Utah cancer research community unique.

“We in the cancer research community are so excited about where we are today. We really are at an inflection point; the investment that has been made is paying off,” said Beckerle. “We are thrilled and honored that Vice President Biden and the entire White House administration has recognized Huntsman Cancer Institute as one of the best in the nation and is looking to us as a valuable resource in this fight to cure cancer. If we can work together and effectively leverage and harness the information we are gathering, we can really accelerate progress.”

HCI manages the UPDB, the largest genetic database in the world, with more than 22 million records linked to genealogies, health records and vital statistics. Vice President Biden expressed a desire to figure out how this and other models of excellence created here can be replicated throughout the country.

“I’ve seen democrats, republicans and independents transformed in this session. Politics have been put aside, and every American is behind you in your quest to finding a cure for cancer,” Huntsman said to Biden to close the session. “We applaud you for doing that and we’re here to help.” 

Media Contact

Ashlee Bright
Public Relations – Huntsman Cancer Institute
public.affairs@hci.utah.edu
801-585-1954

beckerle Cancer Center Research Program Cell Response and Regulation

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah. The cancer campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital as well as two buildings dedicated to cancer research. HCI treats patients with all forms of cancer and is recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. As the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West, HCI serves the largest geographic region in the country, drawing patients from Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at HCI than at any other cancer center in the world, including genes responsible for hereditary breast, ovarian, colon, head, and neck cancers, along with melanoma. HCI manages the Utah Population Database, the largest genetic database in the world, with information on more than 11 million people linked to genealogies, health records, and vital statistics. HCI was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Cancer touches all of us.

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