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Gita Suneja Named Senior Director of Programs to Enhance Diversity

Gita Suneja, MD, new Senior Director of Programs to Enhance Diversity
Gita Suneja, MD, new Senior Director of Programs to Enhance Diversity

Renowned physician and researcher, Gita Suneja, MD, MS, has been named the senior director of Programs to Enhance Diversity (PED). Suneja, a radiation oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute and associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Utah (the U), is tasked with improving workforce diversity and increasing equitable access to cancer research.

Funded by the NCI Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG), PED enhances Huntsman Cancer Institute’s ability to promote the best research discoveries and provide the highest level of care to every patient. As an NCI-designated Cancer Center, Huntsman Cancer Institute meets the highest federal standards for advancing cancer research. This work cannot be accomplished without a diverse scientific workforce and patients willing to participate in clinical trials.

Huntsman Cancer Institute serves the largest region in the United States, encompassing different demographics, that include rural and underserved populations. Embracing differences ensures that research findings serve all patients, regardless of background or circumstance.

“If we aren’t intentional about who we include in clinical trials, we miss the opportunity to best serve our patients and weaken the impact of our findings. We want to make sure that our science is rooted in the communities we are committed to serving,” says Suneja.

“Everyone’s journey is unique...We thrive when we listen to as many perspectives as possible.”

—Gita Suneja, MD, MS

In her new role as director, Suneja will oversee all aspects related to the CCSG’s PED requirement, while reducing barriers for patients attempting to access Huntsman Cancer Institute’s world-renowned clinical trials. An expert in gynecologic and HIV-related cancers, Suneja has witnessed the impact that cancer has on many people, and the various outcomes for those who can’t access the highest levels of care.

Suneja will also be charged with promoting belonging among staff and looking for opportunities to expand Huntsman Cancer Institute’s reach.

“Everyone’s journey is unique. That is why I feel so strongly about diversity and inclusion,” says Suneja. “We thrive when we listen to as many perspectives as possible, and perspective comes from different experiences and backgrounds.”

Suneja brings vast experience to the role, including national leadership in equity, and being a member of The Society of Huntsman Translational Scholars, a Huntsman Cancer Foundation Innovation Award winner, and a recipient of the University of Utah Health Award for Leadership in Inclusive Excellence for Research.

“We want to make sure that our science is rooted in the communities we are committed to serving.”

—Gita Suneja, MD, MS

“Dr. Suneja’s leadership will help us towards our commitment to a cancer-free frontier,” says Neli Ulrich, PhD, executive director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute and Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professor in Cancer Research at the U. “Her experience and dedication will ensure that Huntsman Cancer Institute thrives, benefitting from the many talents of our diverse workforce and leadership, that our current and next generation of cancer researchers feel supported, and that all of our patients across the Mountain West have access to state-of-the-art cancer research and care.”

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Affairs Senior Manager
Huntsman Cancer Institute
801 581-3194

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah 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 the highest standard of care and the most advanced treatments, ensuring world-class cancer care is available 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.

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