Aug 06, 2020 10:00 AM

Author: Carley Lehauli

Tracy Onega, PhD

Tracy Onega, PhD, has been appointed senior director of population sciences at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and professor of population sciences at the University of Utah (U of U). Onega began her service at HCI on August 1.

A cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher, Onega’s research focuses on cancer control, including health information technology, cancer care delivery to rural populations, comparative effectiveness, and precision oncology. Onega serves as principal investigator of several National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grants studying breast cancer screening and surveillance and novel approaches for access to, and evaluation of, cancer care. She has published more than 180 articles. 

“Dr. Onega has an impressive track record of leadership experience that she will bring to this new role, as well as a true passion for addressing the needs of rural populations,” says Cornelia Ulrich, PhD, executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at HCI. “We are delighted that she will join the Huntsman Cancer Institute team and I have no doubt she will have a major impact in our community.” Ulrich adds that Onega’s work in addressing cancer delivery in rural communities is aligned with a major research priority of HCI.

Onega previously served as associate director of Community Outreach and Engagement and co-leader of the Cancer Population Sciences Program at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was also director of the Division of Biomedical Informatics and director of the New Hampshire Mammography Network. Onega served as a professor of biomedical data science and epidemiology in the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

“I am thrilled to join the dynamic HCI community, which exemplifies esprit de corps and a collaborative culture that is deeply committed to easing the burdens of cancer patients,” says Onega. 

Onega earned her PhD from Dartmouth College in evaluative clinical sciences and clinical epidemiology. She received a master of science in health informatics from Northeastern University and a master of arts in geography from the University of Vermont. She received her master of physician assistant studies from the University of Iowa and served as a physician assistant in primary care.

Onega replaces Kathleen Mooney, PhD, who held the senior director of population sciences position in an interim capacity since August 2019. “We are deeply grateful to Dr. Mooney and her steadfast leadership of the HCI population sciences portfolio while we conducted our national search. I am thrilled we will continue to benefit from her experience as an effective leader at HCI, including her role as co-leader of the HCI Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program,” says Ulrich.


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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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