Newswise — (SALT LAKE CITY)—Two internationally known scholars, one in the field of cancer prevention and the other in the field of molecular biology, will join Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah as early as Sept. 1.

Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D., currently serving as a director of the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) and department head at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany, will assume a leadership role, serving as HCI’s new senior director of population sciences, and her husband, Bruce A. Edgar, Ph.D., a professor and researcher at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)-Center for Molecular Biology Heidelberg (ZMBH) Alliance, will head an HCI laboratory. Both have previously held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

“Dr. Ulrich and Dr. Edgar are a ‘dynamic duo,’ bringing with them an incredible breadth of knowledge and experience from the cancer research world. They are highly regarded researchers, both in the United States and in Europe, and we are indeed fortunate to have them join our ranks,” said Mary Beckerle, Ph.D., Huntsman Cancer Institute’s CEO and director. “Dr. Ulrich’s studies into cancer prevention, especially in the realm of colon cancer, have brought major discoveries that have saved countless lives, and Dr. Edgar’s work in cell cycle progression and proliferation have deepened our understanding of how normal cells become malignant.”

“The recruitment of Dr. Ulrich and Dr. Edgar reflects the University’s serious commitment to enhancing our international leadership in cancer research, cancer care, and population science. Both of them are respected scientists—she for driving collaboration between physicians and scientists, with a singular vision of improving outcomes for patients, and he for research excellence in the field of cancer genetics. I am confident they will play pivotal roles in our efforts to transform health care,” said Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., senior vice president for health sciences. Ulrich is an epidemiologist whose work is focused on how factors, such as diet, exercise, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents influence colorectal cancer risk, prevention, and prognosis. She has authored more than 240 peer-reviewed articles, is an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences (EACS) and is currently a senior editor of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. She has served in various leadership and advisory roles at academic medical centers in the United States and in Europe and is a sought-after speaker. She has also served on many education, professional, and service committees for various research groups, including the American Association of Cancer Researchers (AACR).

In her new role, Ulrich joins the HCI Director’s Cabinet, which sets and prioritizes strategic goals for the institution and oversees all clinical and research programs.

“I am delighted to become a part of the HCI leadership team and to help advance the work of population scientists at all levels of this stellar research institution,” Ulrich said. “HCI is going through an exciting growth phase, particularly in population sciences. I look forward to fostering interdisciplinary research teams and dedicating myself to the life-saving work that is the hallmark of HCI, one of the leading cancer centers in the world.”

Edgar will join the faculty of the University of Utah as a professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences and an investigator in HCI’s Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation program. An expert in the molecular genetics of cell growth and cell cycle control using the Drosophila (fruit fly) model system, Edgar is internationally recognized in his field, and has authored more than 100 scientific publications. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and EMBO, the European Molecular Biology Organization, and serves on the editorial board of the prestigious molecular biology journal Cell.

“Dr. Edgar is an internationally renowned molecular geneticist,” said Bradley Cairns, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah and senior director of basic science at Huntsman Cancer Institute. “His work has greatly informed our understanding of the relationship between stem cells and cancer cells—especially in the intestine—as well as our understanding of cell cycle control, which is often dysregulated in cancer. We are very excited to have Dr. Edgar join our faculty.”

“The ideals of multidisciplinary, collaborative research are held in high esteem among HCI’s faculty,” Edgar said, “Their work in cancer genetics is as cutting-edge as you can get. I look forward to joining them on the quest to discover all there is to know about cancer development and progression. Basic research on cancer is still one of the best investments society can make as we seek to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, and HCI is just top notch in this area.”


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 23-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.