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Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) has established The Society of Huntsman Translational Scholars, an initiative that recognizes excellence in the discipline of translational science. Translational researchers extend basic discoveries made in the laboratory and apply them to solve clinical problems and benefit patients through new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Leaders at HCI and the University of Utah recently recognized three physician-scientists with a Huntsman Translational Scholar award.
Recognition as a Huntsman Translational Scholar provides financial support to promote cancer-focused studies that accelerate the development of new treatments. The awardees also work as a cohesive team to share best practices and mentor other scientists interested in translational cancer research. “The Huntsman Translational Scholars is an initiative designed to recognize and advance the careers of exceptional scientists who are making strides in translational research,” says HCI CEO Mary Beckerle.
Benjamin L. Maughan, MD, PharmD, is a genitourinary medical oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) and an assistant professor in the Division of Medical Oncology.
In his three years at HCI, Maughan has secured funding to open six investigator-initiated clinical trials. Maughan focuses on translational laboratory research and specifically uses biology principles from clinical trials to identify predictive biomarkers of treatment response—especially molecular biomarkers such as genetic and genomic DNA alterations.
Maughan earned his PharmD from Idaho State University in 2004 and completed his oncology pharmacy residency at Mountain States Tumor Institute in 2005. In 2010, he completed his MD cum laude from the University of Kentucky and finished his internal medicine residency training with the U of U in 2013. In 2016, Maughan completed his medical oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.
An undergraduate science class sparked Maughan’s fascination with oncology: “It was stunning to me that cancer is a disease where the body is destroying itself,” he says. His interest grew during pharmacy school as he saw the impact cancer has on patient lives.
“Every time I visit with patients in clinic, I see how their lives influence the people around them and change the world in many positive ways,” says Maughan. “This is the most important reason I chose to become a physician instead of any number of other areas I was interested in. I love being part of their lives and helping them achieve their life goals.”
Maughan works with many different people to design, conduct, and analyze both laboratory and clinical research to improve patient lives. He sees his role as a conduit between laboratory research and patient care.
“This is a tremendous honor,” says Maughan, reflecting on his recognition as an HCI Translational Scholar. “When I think of the past recipients of this award and what they have accomplished and continue to accomplish, I am even more motivated to try and be as successful and have as much of an impact on patient lives as the other translational scholars. It is truly humbling to be included in this group of scientists.”