Dec 08, 2021 10:00 AM

Read Time: 3 minutes

Author: Ashlee Harrison

Photo of Nicola Camp, PhD
Nicola Camp, PhD

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) announces Nicola Camp, PhD, as director of the Utah Population Database (UPDB) shared resource.

The UPDB is a powerful research resource that links data from medical records, genealogy records, and demographic data for 11 million individuals. It is the largest database of its kind in the world. This information helps researchers identify genetic patterns of disease, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and mental health conditions, in families. This information is used to inform research in precision prevention and personalized treatments, and to provide critical insights about population health. Through the UPDB, Utah researchers have contributed to the development of targeted therapies and have become leaders in genetic counseling to reduce disease risk.

Camp is a professor of internal medicine at the U of U. She trained in the United Kingdom at the University of Sheffield, where she earned her PhD in statistical genetics and went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular and genetic medicine. She came to Utah in 1998, where she leads a research group dedicated to the development of new methods to identify and understand genes involved in disease, particularly in breast and hematologic cancers.

Camp received a U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2011 in recognition of her work in disease gene mapping in large families. She is internationally recognized in her field and was elected to chair the International Multiple Myeloma Consortium and the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium. She has also served on the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counsellors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology. Her research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Fund, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, International Myeloma Foundation, and Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

“The UPDB is truly a unique and immensely powerful research resource in the United States,” says Cornelia Ulrich, PhD, executive director of the comprehensive cancer center at HCI and professor of population health sciences at the U of U. Ulrich oversees the research strategy of all cancer center shared resources, including the UPDB. “With Dr. Camp’s appointment to lead the highly effective UPDB team, we are looking forward to many new discoveries in the era of data science.”

Camp assumed her new role November 15, 2021. She succeeds Ken Smith, PhD, who served as director from 2010–2020, and Karen Curtin, PhD, who served as interim director since 2020. The UPDB is jointly supported by Huntsman Cancer Institute and U of U Health.

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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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