Deanna Lee Kepka, PhD, MPH portrait
  • Investigator, Huntsman Cancer Institute
  • Assistant Professor, College Of Nursing
  • Director of Global and International Health, College Of Nursing
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
  • Associate Professor, College Of Nursing

Research Summary

Dr. Kepka’s primary research interest is to address health disparities related to cancer risk for vulnerable populations. Specifically, Dr. Kepka is strongly driven to work in cervical cancer prevention among US Latinas. US Latinas are disproportionately diagnosed with cervical cancer with higher rates than most other racial and ethnic groups. Dr. Kepka is dedicated to improving the quality of primary health care services for cancer prevention and control among underserved populations.


  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Cancer Prevention Fellowship Training Program, National Cancer Institute
  • PhD, Health Services, University of Washington . Project: Preventing cervical cancer among US Latinas: HPV infection, HPV vaccine education, and HPV vaccine knowledge
  • MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Project: Factors related to adherence to antiretroviral therapy for low-income HIV-positive individuals in North Carolina
  • MA, Political Science, Illinois State University . Project: Jamaican women's NGOs combating harsh economic climates


Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, is a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and an assistant professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Utah. She is a member of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CCPS) research group. She is the Director of the Intermountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition. 

Kepka’s main research interests are the gaps in health care access and quality for vulnerable populations. She focuses specifically on preventing cervical cancer among US Latinas, who have higher rates of cervical cancer than most other racial and ethnic groups. Utah has one of the lowest rates of completion of the HPV vaccination series in the country, and Kepka’s work with CCPS and the College of Nursing intends to develop more effective patient-provider interventions that will help increase this rate. She is also dedicated to improving health care services for cancer prevention and control among minority, rural, and other underserved populations.

Kepka has worked with teams in at-risk communities, promoting positive health behaviors in Jamaica, Chicago, North Carolina, and Washington. Since 2007, she has worked with Hispanic and Latino communities in Mexico, Peru, Chicago, North Carolina, and Washington. She has also developed a radionovela (a Spanish short story broadcast) that successfully improved knowledge and sparked interest in the HPV vaccine among rural Latino parents in the United States.

Kepka was most recently a posdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, where she received the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Merit Award. She received her PhD in health services from the University of Washington School of Public Health and her MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.