Skip to main content

David Wetter, PhD, Named Inaugural Senior Director of Cancer Health Equity Science

Read Time: 3 minutes

David Wetter, PhD
David Wetter, PhD

David W. Wetter, PhD, has been appointed inaugural senior director of cancer health equity science at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah (the U). Wetter also serves as the director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Population Equity (HOPE) and is a Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the U.

Wetter’s work is aimed at eliminating health inequities through innovative research approaches. His work spans conceptual models that utilize real-time, real-world assessments and on-body human sensing technology; theoretically based interventions designed to address the unique circumstances of historically marginalized populations; and translational research to implement and disseminate those interventions in real world settings like community health centers, state departments of health, and tobacco quitlines. Throughout his career, he has worked to improve the lives of those experiencing poverty, those who are uninsured, residents that live in rural and frontier areas, and people from diverse racial and ethnic groups. 

“Dr. Wetter is an exceptional and highly respected researcher, as well as a nationally renowned leader in cancer health equity science,” says Neli Ulrich, PhD, chief scientific officer and executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute. “His innovative research, with a focus on enhancing health and cancer outcomes for people who are medically underserved, particularly those that live in rural and frontier areas, is nothing short of critical in driving our mission to reduce the burden of cancer in the Mountain West. We are incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Wetter on our team.”

In this new role, Wetter will oversee an extensive, collaborative research program that seeks to better understand and address the complex social, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to cancer in the Mountain West. This works spans the cancer continuum to address tobacco cessation, alcohol, obesity, cancer screening, and cancer survivorship, among other areas.

“I feel extraordinarily privileged and inspired to be a part of our collaborative efforts to serve the Mountain West,” says Wetter. “I grew up in Idaho and feel a deep connection to the region. Partnering with amazing community organizations and the outstanding scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute and the U gives us a fighting chance to reduce health inequities and have a real-world impact.”

A hallmark of Wetter’s work is in creating community partnerships to address cancer and health inequities. The Center for HOPE serves as an infrastructure and bridge between scientists and community organizations, like community health centers, primary care associations, state departments of health, and schools. These partnerships have led to more than $30 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, and other foundations to address community priorities.

Wetter has an extensive grant portfolio over a 25-year career, with more than 270 peer-reviewed publications. His research has been honored by the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the American Society for Preventive Oncology, and the Society for Health Psychology. Earlier this year, the Center for HOPE was awarded the Catalyst for Equity Award from Your Cancer/Astra Zeneca/Scientific American. A recent bibliographic analysis identified him as the fifth most active author worldwide with respect to tobacco cessation research.   

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations
Huntsman Cancer Institute
Email Us
801 581-3194

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah (the U) is the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a legacy of innovative cancer research, groundbreaking discoveries, and world-class patient care, we are transforming the way cancer is understood, prevented, diagnosed, treated, and survived. Huntsman Cancer Institute focuses on delivering a cancer-free frontier to all communities in the area we serve. We have more than 300 open clinical trials and 250 research teams studying cancer at any given time. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center. Our scientists are world-renowned for understanding how cancer begins and using that knowledge to develop innovative approaches to treat each patient’s unique disease. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Resources for Media

Cancer touches all of us.