Mar 01, 2019 8:00 AM

a family sits in chemo infusion

In 2018, a team of researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) received a prestigious National Cancer Institute Cancer Moonshot grant. The grant will fund studies about ways to identify patients who may benefit from genetic counseling and services.

Two HCI faculty members will lead the study: Kimberly Kaphingst, ScD, an HCI cancer researcher and professor of communication at the University of Utah (U of U), and Saundra Buys, MD, medical director of HCI's High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic and professor in the department of medicine at the U of U.

"We're using information already in the electronic health record to find people who have not had cancer but who might have familial risk," says Dr. Kaphingst. "We are especially interested in people with a higher risk for breast and colorectal cancers."

Wendy Kohlmann, MS, also participates in the project. She is an HCI genetic counselor and adjunct assistant professor in population health sciences at the U of U. "The number of companies marketing genetic testing for ancestry and health conditions reflects growing public interest in learning about one's genetic makeup," she says. "This project will help patients who want to learn more about genetic factors that may affect their cancer risk.

"It will also help them access information about getting support from genetic counselors and doctors in their health care system," Kohlmann adds.

The grant will provide more than $5 million in support over the next five years.

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