Media Contacts

Linda Aagard

Manager, Public Relations
Phone: 801-587-7639

Jul 17, 2014 2:13 PM

SALT LAKE CITY- A team of physician-researchers from Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) will receive nearly $3.6 million over the next five years in a cooperative agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a Network Lead Academic Participating Site (NLAPS). The award places HCI in an elite group of only 30 to 40 NLAPS locations nationwide; these sites are part of the NIH effort to create a new National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN).

"We're confident that HCI can be a significant asset in helping to update the NIH national clinical trials program," said David Gaffney, MD, PhD, principal investigator. Gaffney is vice-chair, medical director, and professor of radiation oncology at the U of U School of Medicine and an HCI investigator. "HCI will provide scientific leadership in developing and conducting clinical trials, as well as access to clinical trials for more patients throughout our five-state service area of the Intermountain West.

"HCI strives to provide a wide array of important clinical trials for our patients. We give our patients world-class care now, and we are working to improve cancer care in the future," Gaffney said.

The NCTN will transform, consolidate, and integrate efforts of the previous National Cancer Institute (NCI) Clinical Trials Cooperative Group. The new network's goals include developing multi-institutional clinical trials to evaluate new cancer therapies across a broad range of populations and cancer types.

HCI, an NCI-Designated Cancer Center, will be a key partner to the NCTN in cooperative group research, according to Gaffney. "We have an effective clinical trials infrastructure already established, and we have unique research assets including an NCI Center for Quantitative Imaging Excellence and the Utah Population Database," said Gaffney.

"In addition, we have multiple experts in all fields of cancer medicine, and our physicians and scientists take a team approach to improving cancer care," Gaffney added.

HCI's Center for Quantitative Cancer Imaging provides researchers, clinicians, and patients with the most advanced cancer imaging technologies, which enables the highest quality research, disease diagnosis, and therapy monitoring. The Utah Population Database is a powerful resource of population-based genealogical data that in many cases extends 15 generations, linked with statewide cancer and medical records.

"HCI is proud to direct these resources to the success of NTCN's cooperative efforts to eradicate cancer," said Gaffney.

Other key personnel on the award are executive team leaders Howard Colman, MD; Wallace Akerley, MD; John Ward, MD; and Theresa Werner, MD. All are HCI investigators.

    # # #

This project is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U10CA180818. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) is one of the world's top academic research and cancer treatment centers. HCI manages the Utah Population Database - the largest genetic database in the world, with more than 16 million records linked to genealogies, health records, and vital statistics. Using this data, HCI researchers have identified cancer-causing genes, including the genes responsible for melanoma, colon and breast cancer, and paraganglioma. HCI is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (a 25-member alliance of the world's leading cancer centers) and is a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center. HCI treats patients with all forms of cancer and operates several high-risk clinics that focus on melanoma and breast, colon, and pancreas cancers. The HCI Cancer Learning Center for patient and public education contains one of the nation's largest collections of cancer-related publications. The institute is named after Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., a Utah philanthropist, industrialist, and cancer survivor.