SALT LAKE CITY – Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) is the first Regence provider designated as a national Blue Distinction® Center for Cellular Immunotherapy – CAR-T. The facility received this elite recognition after a rigorous evaluation process. CAR-T designated hospitals must be certified by a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program which is required by the FDA to provide CAR-T therapies, and must be accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), including Standards for Immune Effector Cells.

“Gaining this status is an extraordinary achievement for Huntsman Cancer Institute,” said Regence Executive Medical Director Kenny Bramwell, M.D. “Meeting 13 quality of care criteria and other key requirements and being the only designated CAR-T Blue Distinction Specialty Care Program in such a large geographic region speaks volumes about Huntsman Cancer Institute’s capabilities, performance, and focus on patient-centered care.”

What this means for Regence members receiving CAR-T treatment at HCI is confidence they are getting the highest quality care possible and comfort knowing the hospital is committed to systemwide monitoring and reporting of CAR-T patient outcomes through the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) registry.

“CAR-T cell therapies are cutting-edge in the treatment of several types of blood cancers,” said HCI physician-scientist and U of U professor and Chief of Hematology and Hematologic Cancers Michael Deininger, M.D., Ph.D. “Huntsman Cancer Institute is committed to providing the highest quality, most effective care to people with cancer in the Mountain West. It really takes a village to do this.” CAR-T cell therapy is available to adult cancer patients in the Cancer Hospital at HCI, part of the University of Utah Health system.

In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies to treat certain types of patients with leukemia (Kymriah®) and lymphoma (Yescarta® and Kymriah®). An estimated 143,480 people were diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma in 2018. CAR-T therapy offers new options for many after other treatments stop working, by redesigning the patient’s own immune cells, which usually fight infections, to fight cancer cells instead. The new Blue Distinction Center for Cellular Immunotherapy – CAR-T program designates hospitals that use evidence-based practices to deliver CAR-T therapies.

There are currently no other CAR-T Cellular Immunotherapy Blue Distinction Centers elsewhere in Utah or in the surrounding states of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona or New Mexico.

About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, based in Salt Lake City, is the state’s first health insurer and now provides more than 547,000 members with comprehensive health insurance solutions. As a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers in Utah and nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit, or