Feb 07, 2020 11:00 AM

Author: Garrett Harding

Yelena Wu, PhD

Yelena Wu, PhD, Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) researcher and assistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of Utah, has been awarded a multi-year Research Scholar Grant totaling nearly $800,000. This award, given by the American Cancer Society, will expand Dr. Wu’s work to rigorously test new behavioral interventions to promote implementation of skin cancer prevention behaviors among Utah children and their parents.

“I would like to thank the American Cancer Society and all of their supporters,” Dr. Wu says. “My team and I are immensely grateful for the opportunity to conduct this research, which we hope will benefit many melanoma survivors and their families across the state of Utah and contribute to the prevention of melanoma in children who do not yet regularly receive interventions like this.”

Dr. Wu’s research focuses on fostering optimal health outcomes among children, adolescents, young adults, and families affected by cancer. The FLARE (Family Lifestyles, Actions, and Risk Education) study aims to make it easier for children and families at higher risk for melanoma to take action and protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure and the development of skin cancer. UVR exposure is the most common modifiable risk factor for skin cancer. Utah’s rate of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the highest in the United States.

Families participating in the study will be asked to fill out questionnaires and take part in videoconferencing sessions conducted by a health educator. Participants will learn strategies that could make it easier to carry out skin protection habits to prevent melanoma. Recruitment is ongoing and will continue for the next few years.

The American Cancer Society is the nation’s largest private not-for-profit source of funds for scientists studying cancer. The Research Scholar Grant supports investigator-initiated projects across the cancer research continuum. Currently, the American Cancer Society funds eight grant awards in the state of Utah, totaling over $4.7 million.

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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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