Jul 05, 2016 1:00 AM

cancer moonshot summit at HCI

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah participated in a national summit on the Cancer Moonshot initiative on June 29, 2016. The Cancer Moonshot Summits were organized at the request of Vice President Joe Biden, and more than 270 organizations hosted summits that brought together patients and survivors, researchers, physicians, advocates, philanthropists, and data and technology experts to brainstorm ways of speeding up progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care over the next five years—and to ultimately end cancer as we know it.

John Sweetenham, MD, HCI senior director of clinical affairs and professor of medicine, hosted the HCI event. With about 100 people in attendance, the summit featured several speakers and cancer experts, including HCI patient Gregg Johnson, who calls himself a “previvor” for avoiding colorectal cancer thanks to genetic testing and increased screening Martin McMahon, PhD, HCI senior director of preclinical translation and professor of dermatology, University of Utah; Kim Gillan, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region VIII office, and many others. Remarks from Vice President Biden were streamed live from the national conference in Washington, DC.

Two panel discussions held at the event explored priority issues identified by the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, including access to high-quality cancer research and care across large geographic regions; and how data initiatives are influencing cancer research.

Jennyffer Morales, MEd, MPhil, community health educator with HCI’s Community Outreach and Public Education program, spoke about the geographic variation that exists in cancer risk factors, incidence, and mortality. “People who live in rural areas often face challenges to health care access, including long distances to facilities and limited transportation options,” she said. “We know the importance of education in helping the population make better decisions about preventative health behaviors. One of the goals of the Moonshot is to do the work of ten years in five years. Community outreach must be just as fast in getting new information out to the public.”

Rachel Hess, MD, MS, moderated the data initiatives panel discussion and pointed out how valuable the Utah Population Database (UPDB) is to the Cancer Moonshot effort.

“Data sources like the UPDB combine environmental, socio-cultural, and genetic data as well as patient-reported-outcome data. This gives us the opportunity to explore the drivers of cancer and intervene to reduce the incidence of cancer through aggressive prevention,” said Hess.

The national summit, hosted by the Vice President at Howard University in Washington, DC, was attended by many national thought leaders in cancer. HCI was represented at the national summit by Susan Sheehan, President and COO of Huntsman Cancer Foundation, and Kathleen Mooney, PhD, RN, co-leader of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at HCI and distinguished professor of nursing at the University of Utah.

Watch a video of the entire HCI Cancer Moonshot Summit. 

cancer moonshot genetics cancer research health equity cancer center research program cancer control and population sciences

Cancer touches all of us.

Share Your Story