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Children's and Families' Cancers Target of New Research Initiative at Huntsman Cancer Institute

SALT LAKE CITY—At a time when the incidence and prevalence of cancers in all age groups—including children—is increasing, and funding for cancer research is on the decline, officials at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah today announced a plan to expand HCI's research capabilities—a new, 220,000-square-foot addition.

"From an empty hillside to one of the world's leading cancer research and treatment facilities, our vision has always been to improve cancer outcomes for children and adults through innovative research," said Jon M. Huntsman, HCI's founder and principal benefactor. "To fulfill that dream, our world-class researchers need more space and equipment. Huntsman Cancer Institute's research labs are at full capacity, yet patients all over the world are looking to us for new treatments to save their lives. This new addition will double our research space."

Jon and Karen Huntsman

"What a remarkable and far-reaching act of enlightened philanthropy Jon M. Huntsman has given to the people of Utah, indeed to our nation and world. Through his leadership, personal gifts, and ability to engage others in supporting this important cause, Jon has for more than 20 years brought to life his vision for exceptional cancer research and care. We are grateful that he has entrusted the University of Utah to carry out that vision," said David W. Pershing, president of the University of Utah. "Today Huntsman Cancer Institute stands among the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the world, with an even brighter future for HCI, thanks to this welcome new addition to help us find the causes and cures for cancer."

The new cancer research facility is projected to cost $100 million and will house laboratories and technology that will allow HCI researchers to study many more aspects of cancers that affect families, including the three leading causes of disease death in children: leukemia, sarcoma, and brain cancer. The new addition will be named the Primary Children's and Families' Research Center in honor of one of the principal donors of the expansion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name reflects the LDS church's historical emphasis on children and families.

"This additional research space is absolutely essential to HCI's mission to relieve the suffering of cancer patients through understanding cancer and bringing that understanding to bear in the development of new and better treatments," Mary Beckerle, PhD, CEO and director of HCI, said. "When the war on cancer was launched in 1971, it was unfathomable even to imagine what is possible today. Building on our strong foundation of achievement in cancer genetics, risk assessment, and prevention, the new facility will allow us to expand in areas of critical need and will dramatically accelerate our progress."

The project has been endorsed by HCI's external board of advisors, made up of several directors of national cancer centers as well as a Nobel laureate, several Institute of Medicine members, and two National Academy of Sciences members. Programming and design for the new, six-floor expansion is already underway, and construction is slated to begin in 2014. Located on the campus of the University of Utah and a part of the University of Utah Health Sciences system, the addition is projected to extend from the southeast corner of the research arm of the original building.

This addition marks HCI's fourth major construction phase. The first phase, completed in 1999, comprises 231,000-square-feet and houses three floors of research labs and an outpatient clinic and infusion center. The second phase, a 286,000-square-foot cancer specialty hospital with 50 inpatient rooms, opened in 2004. In the fall of 2011, a 156,000-square-foot expansion to the hospital, with 50 more inpatient rooms, was dedicated.