Jul 13, 2018 9:00 AM

Neli Ulrich, PhD
Neli Ulrich, PhD

SALT LAKE CITY – Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah today announced the appointment of Cornelia Ulrich, PhD, MS, as director of its National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. She will oversee HCI’s academic consortium of nearly 200 cancer research teams. Ulrich will lead efforts to advance HCI’s research in laboratory, clinical and population science, with the goal of improving cancer prevention and treatment.  

Ulrich will report to HCI CEO Mary Beckerle, PhD, who has held the role of center director (in addition to her role as CEO) since 2006. Beckerle said she is delighted to welcome Ulrich to the position. “Dr. Ulrich is a highly accomplished and dynamic leader who is passionately committed to advancing innovative research to reduce the burden of cancer,” said Beckerle.

Ulrich was recruited to Utah in 2014 as senior director for population sciences at HCI and division chief of cancer population sciences at the U of U. In recognition of her academic accomplishments, she was named a Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professor in Cancer Research.

“Huntsman Cancer Institute is devoted to making a major impact in the fight against cancer,” said U of U President Ruth Watkins. “With Dr. Beckerle’s continued focus as CEO and Dr. Ulrich’s new appointment as cancer center director, we have an unprecedented opportunity to move even faster in our efforts to advance cancer research and provide compassionate care for the benefit of Utah and beyond.”

During Ulrich’s tenure at HCI, the organization’s cancer population sciences research efforts have doubled in size. This field of study promotes cancer prevention, early detection and survivorship through research studies in epidemiology, genetics and behavioral sciences. She has successfully recruited to HCI top talent from across the world and has enhanced infrastructure for population sciences research at the cancer center. Ulrich also leads HCI’s Total Cancer Care research study. This initiative is a national collaboration of 18 leading cancer centers. To date, HCI Total Cancer Care has engaged the participation of more than 5,000 HCI patients in this precision medicine initiative.

Ed Benz, MD, president and CEO Emeritus of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University and chair of HCI’s External Advisory Board, lauded the appointment. “Dr. Ulrich is a distinguished, internationally recognized cancer researcher with extensive leadership experience,” said Benz. “She is an outstanding choice to lead the cancer research center at HCI during an exciting phase of expansion.”

Ulrich’s lab has performed landmark research on colorectal cancer prevention and survivorship, including studies on biomarkers, aspirin and connections between obesity and physical activity in cancer prevention and survivorship. She is the author of more than 350 publications, and served as principal investigator on more than 20 competitively funded research studies and clinical trials. She is an elected member of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences and serves on numerous editorial boards and advisory boards for agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, International Agency for Research on Cancer and the American Association of Cancer Research. Prior to joining HCI, Ulrich held leadership appointments at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg.

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Heather Simonsen
Public Relations – Huntsman Cancer Institute
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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.

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