Apr 04, 2016 9:00 AM

Mary Beckerle, PhD
Mary Beckerle, PhD

Will Advise Moonshot Initiative to Accelerate Progress against Cancer

SALT LAKE CITY—Huntsman Cancer Institute’s CEO and director, Mary Beckerle, PhD, has been asked to join Vice President Joe Biden’s Moonshot Program Initiative as an invited member of a new Blue Ribbon Panel, tasked with advising the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) on the scientific opportunities available to accelerate progress against cancer and evaluate potential new investments in cancer research.

Dr. Beckerle met with the Vice President when he toured Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) on Feb. 26 as part of his national listening tour and spoke to him about what HCI is doing with big data, one of the concerns Biden voiced during a roundtable discussion that included several HCI researchers, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Jon Huntsman, Jr. Biden was intrigued with her description of the Utah Population Database (UPDB) and its use in the prevention of cancer—something she termed “Precision Prevention,” where patients at high risk for disease based on their family history can be screened before cancer strikes, eliminating cancer or detecting it early when it can be more effectively treated.

“It is both a great honor and a great responsibility to be invited to serve our nation in this capacity,” Beckerle said upon learning of her invitation to serve on the panel. “Cancer is the single most devastating disease of mankind, and the Moonshot Initiative is aptly visionary in its approach to accelerating progress in its prevention and treatment.”

Beckerle, a cell biologist who has been at the University of Utah since 1986, is no stranger to providing her scientific expertise to the problem of cancer. She has served as HCI’s CEO and director since 2006 and was appointed in 2009 to an additional role as the University of Utah as Associate Vice-President for Cancer Affairs.

An active participant in national and international scientific affairs, she has served as president of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and was appointed to the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Science Policy and Legislative Affairs. She is a member of the NCI Scientific Review Group Subcommittee A for Cancer Centers and has served on the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director, been Chair of the American Cancer Society Council for Extramural Grants, and a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2013, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

See the press release issued by the National Institutes of Health here: http://www.cancer.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/blue-ribbon-panel-announced

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Heather Simonsen
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About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the official cancer center of Utah and the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West. The campus includes a state-of-the-art cancer specialty hospital and two buildings dedicated to cancer research. Huntsman Cancer Institute provides patient care, cancer screening, and education at community clinics and affiliate hospitals throughout the Mountain West. It is consistently recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The region’s first proton therapy center opened in 2021 and a major hospital expansion is underway. Huntsman Cancer Institute is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for staff, students, patients, and communities. Advancing cancer research discoveries and treatments to meet the needs of patients who live far away from a major medical center is a unique focus. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center, including genes responsible for breast, ovarian, colon, head and neck cancers, and melanoma. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Cancer touches all of us.

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