Out of Small Places, Come Great Things 

Sometimes the right combination of simple things such as leadership, knowledge, and resources, brings about the formation of something great. 

Take SkyWest Airlines for example. When Jerry Atkin joined his uncle’s fledging airline in 1974 as the director of finance, SkyWest had a fleet of three airplanes, 13 employees, and carried less than 1,000 people a month safely to their destinations. Under Atkin’s leadership, SkyWest Airlines has become the largest regional airline in the world with a revolving fleet of 716 aircraft, and over 2,000 flights each day to 233 destinations across North America.

Atkin is the current Board President and former CEO of SkyWest. His exceptional leadership, perseverance, and hard work have shaped SkyWest Airlines for over 40 years. Today, Atkin and his wife, Carolyn, are leading the capital campaign for the new Cancer Center that will be located not far from SkyWest headquarters in St. George and on the Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center campus.

“We are champions of St. George,” said Atkin. “Carolyn and I were both born and raised in southern Utah and so were our children. Our pioneer ancestors settled Cedar City and St. George. We have roots here and we are firm believers that great things that start small can happen here.”

As lead donors of the Cancer Center/Precision Genomics capital campaign, Jerry and Carolyn are passionate about helping Intermountain Precision Genomics advance here in St. George. Carolyn’s experience with breast cancer ten years ago inspires them to support Precision Genomics for Cancer.

“When you have faced cancer yourself,” said Carolyn Atkin, “the cutting edge technology and research of Precision Genomics really peaks your interest. We have a connection with Dr. Haslem because of my cancer experience, and we have been impressed with Dr. Nadauld. We have watched things come together for cancer research here in St. George.”

The fact that Stanford University will locate a satellite genome technology lab within the St. George Cancer Center, did not go unnoticed by the Atkins. One of the highest capacity DNA sequencing machine in the nation is located here in St. George. The Atkins also liked what they heard about the Intermountain biorepository samples being used for cancer research by Precision Genomics. 

“All the stars seem to be aligned,” said Jerry Atkin. “We have seen talented doctors and researchers, Stanford University, and Intermountain Healthcare, all come together to fight cancer in St. George, Utah. If we can be a part of this and help in some way, then why wouldn’t we?”

The new St. George Cancer Center will be a place of healing, research, technology, and hope. Precision Genomics offers a new, personalized approach to treating cancer and other diseases. Precision Genomics looks at the DNA of an individual’s cancer cells, and matches it to targeted cancer-fighting medication. It has been proven to increase the lifespan of late-stage cancer patients with fewer side effects.

“The level of comprehensive cancer care available locally is remarkable for our area and unmatched anywhere in the west,” said Lincoln Nadauld, MD, PhD, Executive Director of Precision Genomics. “The future of precision health is happening here and now. Precision Genomics is transforming the future of cancer care.”

Technology, expertise, and a forward thinking healthcare system, along with access to hundreds of thousands of tissue samples from Intermountain’s biorepository, together have made St. George the perfect place for precision medicine to become a reality.

“It is really something for such a small community to have something like precision medicine to happen here,” said Carolyn Atkin. “I feel the advancements currently being made are just the beginning of great things to come.”

Jerry Atkin agreed. “Precision Genomics is going to make a huge contribution to cancer research and lead the world from St. George, Utah. The Cancer Center/Precision Genomics is an extremely worthy cause that in all reality may change the world.”

Please join Jerry and Carolyn Atkin and other forward thinking individuals as they build the resources necessary to change the world of cancer care from right here in southern Utah.