Sep 07, 2018 9:00 AM

Mary Beckerle accepts the award at the YWCA luncheon

Updated September 10, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – YWCA Utah has selected Mary Beckerle, PhD, CEO of Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award in Medicine and Health. Beckerle will be honored today at the 30th annual YWCA Utah LeaderLuncheon.

With these awards, YWCA Utah honors “remarkable women in Utah who have demonstrated their commitment to advance the well-being of women and girls, and whose work and achievements exemplify the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

“Mary is a path-breaking scientist whose influence extends from the laboratory to the board room. Her dedication to eradicating cancer and improving the lives of patients exemplifies what it means to live a life of purpose,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “On behalf of the entire university, I extend my congratulations to her on this well-deserved recognition.”

Under Beckerle’s leadership, HCI received designation as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, the highest national recognition possible for a cancer research center. She has overseen major expansions of the research and clinical infrastructure of the cancer center, and HCI was again recently recognized among the best cancer hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Beckerle has prioritized training the next generation of cancer researchers and care providers, reaching them as early as high school. The HCI Pathmaker Program, for example, provides high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in science and medicine with a 10-week training experience in cancer research under mentorship by HCI faculty.

"Mary has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Huntsman family in our commitment to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth,” said HCI co-founder Karen Huntsman. “She is a compassionate, visionary, and effective leader, and I am delighted to see her honored in this way by such a distinguished organization in our state."

Beckerle joined the faculty at the U of U in 1986. She was among the first scientists to move her lab into HCI when it opened in 1999. She became HCI’s deputy director in 2003, and after a national search, was named CEO and director in 2006. She holds the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Endowed Chair at the U of U, where she also serves as a distinguished professor of biology and oncological sciences and associate vice president for cancer affairs. The focus of Beckerle’s research is fundamental aspects of cell biology and Ewing sarcoma, a bone and soft tissue cancer affecting mainly children and adolescents.

Beckerle is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Earlier this year, Beckerle received the Alfred G. Knudson Award in Cancer Genetics from the National Cancer Institute. She served as a member of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Blue Ribbon Panel on the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

Beckerle will join five other distinguished women from Utah as 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award recipients, including Sheryl Allen, Patricia Christensen, Cristina Flores, Yasmen Simonian, and Paula Green Jones.

At the event, Beckerle shared the following acceptance speech:

"Thank you so much for this wonderful honor.

Huntsman Cancer Institute was established at the University of Utah by Jon and Karen Huntsman with the bold goal of eradicating cancer from the face of the earth. And we are on our way.

Today’s recognition really belongs to Huntsman Cancer Institute. It is a tribute to the talent, passion, and commitment of over 1,800 individuals dedicated to HCI’s mission and our core principles of 'the patient first, united effort, and excellence in all we do.'

Since receiving notification of this award, I have been reflecting on leadership—what it has meant to me in the past, what it means to me now. In 2006, I was preparing an application for an executive leadership program.

When asked to describe key leadership attributes, I used the acronym VOICE. 

V  for Vision

O  for Optimism

I   for Integrity

C  for Creativity

E  for commitment to Excellence

Those five elements have stood the test of time but today I want to officially amend the acronym from VOICE to VOICES by adding an 'S' at the end. 

The S stands for Service. 

Leadership is not about titles, organizational positioning, office size, or power. It is all about Service. It is about a passion, a commitment to make a difference. A calling to a greater purpose. It is a selfless pursuit.

For me today, the acronym VOICES, as opposed to the singular VOICE, also has special meaning. Leadership is about inviting others to join the calling to a greater purpose. Leadership is not a solo performance; it is a chorus.

It is made melodious by diversity;  

It is made harmonious by a focus on shared goals; 

It is made powerful and sustainable by the enduring commitment of the participants who, each day, invite others to join the cause.  

I am immensely grateful to be working side by side with 1,800 leaders at HCI, each of whom is passionately committed to eradicating cancer from the face of the earth. It is these 1,800 leadership VOICES that make music together each day at Huntsman Cancer Institute. 

I thank them and I thank you for this recognition."

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations – Huntsman Cancer Institute
Email Us
801 581-3194

Cancer Center Research Program Cell Response and Regulation

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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