The Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is about to double its research space. On Friday, philanthropist and cancer survivor Jon Huntsman Senior announced plans for a new research building on campus focused on children and the genetics of cancer.
Jon Huntsman Senior watched his mother die of breast cancer, his father of prostate cancer, and his step-mother of ovarian cancer. Huntsman himself has fought four separate battles with cancer. His goal is to find a cure before his children and grandchildren have to go through the same thing.
“This addition will make Huntsman cancer institute the largest genetic cancer center in the world,” Huntsman says. “It will certainly provide answers and we hope elimination of cancers in the future. That’s our end game - to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth, and we’re throwing everything at it we can in terms of dollars and in terms of scientific manpower.”
The Primary Children’s & Families’ Cancer Research Center will be a 220,000 square foot research facility just south of the existing Huntsman Cancer Institute research building. It’s expected to cost about 100 million dollars to build. Principal donors include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Intermountain Healthcare.
“It’s going to have tremendous impact on our efforts to conquer cancer,” says Mary Beckerle, CEO and Director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. “We are doing really great work already in terms of cancer genetics. We are going to be able to accelerate our progress, extend our current efforts, and move into a very important new area which is the genetics of childhood cancers.”
The center will house laboratories and technologies that will allow researchers to study the three leading causes of cancer death in children: leukemia, sarcoma, and brain cancer. The addition is expected to create 300 new high-level jobs. That will bring the total professional staff at the Institute up to 1700. Programming and design for the new six-floor expansion is already underway. Construction is slated to begin next year.