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

Research Summary

Dr. Kepka is dedicated to improving the quality of primary health care services for cancer prevention and control among underserved populations locally and globally. She is the founder and director of the Mountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition and the Director of Global and International Health in the College of Nursing. She is a health services researcher with expertise hpv vaccination, hpv-related cancer prevention, and health equity research.


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


Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, is a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and an associate 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 leads the 500-member Mountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition and is the Director of Global and International Health in the College of Nursing. 

Kepka is a tenured Associate Professor in the College of Nursing and an Investigator at the Huntsman Cancer Institute with expertise in community-level cancer prevention and control research among underserved communities. Specifically, Kepka is strongly driven to work in cancer prevention and control among vulnerable populations with a focus on rural and Hispanic populations.

As a Pre-Doctoral Biobehavioral Cancer Prevention and Control Fellow at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Kepka developed a rural-focused community-based HPV vaccination intervention that included fotonovela educational pamphlets and a radionovela. These educational tools improved knowledge and sparked interest in the HPV vaccine among rural Latino parents.

Kepka then acquired excellent training in epidemiological and behavioral research methods as a National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention Post-Doctoral Fellow where Kepka received the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Merit Award. Over the past decade, my work has continued to be recognized with receipt of 20 awards for excellence at the international, national, local levels.

Since Kepka's arrival at the University of Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), Kepka has established a successful independent research program in HPV vaccination, women’s health, cancer prevention education, cancer screening targeting vulnerable patient populations, rural cancer prevention and control, and cancer-related health disparities.

Kepka is a nationally recognized leader in HPV vaccination and HPV-cancer prevention research. Kepka has more than 15 years of experience working with at-risk communities through collaborative community partnerships that promote positive health behaviors in Jamaica, Chicago, North Carolina, Washington, and Utah and more than 10 years of experience working with Hispanic communities in Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Chicago, North Carolina, Washington, and Utah.