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The News Room


Walking an Extra Two Minutes Each Hour May Offset Hazards of Sitting Too Long

A new study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. On the bright side, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine just might do the trick. These findings ...

Road Less Traveled Leads to National Academy of Sciences for Biochemist Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D.

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Distinguished professor of biochemistry Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D., who has devoted her career to understanding mysterious double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules, received one of the highest honors in science today when she was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Bass, also H.A. and Edna Benning Endowed Chair in ...

New Method Increases Accuracy of Ovarian Cancer Prognosis and Diagnosis

Mathematical Technique Reveals Predictive DNA Patterns That Other Methods MissedNearly anyone touched by ovarian cancer will tell you: it’s devastating. It’s bad enough that cancer in almost 80 percent of patients reaches advanced stages before diagnosis, and that most patients are expected to die within five years. But just as ...

Grand Opening of Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building

(SALT LAKE CITY)—A modest program begun 35 years ago to help aspiring Utah students become dentists came full circle on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, with the grand opening of the new home of the University of Utah School of Dentistry (SOD)—the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building.  Named for ...

New Insights Into Little Known But Common Birth Defect: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Listen to an interview about the research on The Scope Radio. (Salt Lake City) – Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is not as well known as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, but like them it is a life-threatening birth defect, and is just as common. Occurring in one in 2,500 births, CDH ...

A Call for Caution Before Genetically Engineering Humans

Genetically modified plants and livestock are already a controversial reality. But what about genetically modifying humans? The technology could potentially eradicate certain diseases that run in families such as inherited cancers or debilitating Huntington’s disease. A group of 18 leaders in the field of genomic engineering have written a perspective to ...

Health Care Transformation


First Do Less Harm

Hospitals have been surveying discharged patients for years, asking them things like how well providers communicated or catered to their emotional needs. But it’s not clear what many do with the data, except at places like University of Utah Health Care (UUHC), writes The New York Times reporter, Gina Kolata. By posting its physician reviews online, UUHC made it clear that each patient visit was “a high-stakes interaction.” Doctors responded by being the kind of doctor their patients wanted them to be, and patient satisfaction scores soared.

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Could Peer Pressure Improve Care?

"A basic principle of health care is that everyone strongly favors transparency—for everyone but themselves," wrote Thomas H. Lee in the Harvard Business Review, extolling the virtues of the University of Utah's pioneering move to publish patient satisfaction scores on its Find-A-Doctor website. The U. was the first academic medical center in the U.S. to put patient reviews online, complete with comments and an accessible five-star ranking system. Doctors were justifiably nervous. But the U. was "richly rewarded for its creativity and courage," wrote Lee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey Associates, the nation's leading provider of patient surveys.

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Out-Yelping Yelp

Doctor rating websites are gaining in popularity, but the problem with consumer portals like ZocDoc and Healthgrades.com is it's impossible to verify if those submitting scathing or glowing comments are actual patients. Instead of allowing a few squeaky wheels to drive the discussion, the U. decided to "turn the trend" to its advantage, reports The Economist. It was the first of a growing field of health centers to survey its patients and publish their reviews online. "Most reviews are positive, and patient-satisfaction scores have improved...Happy patients communicate an co-operate better with their doctors."

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Since 2012, Algorithms for Innovation has been asking questions and searching for solutions to some of the most impossible problems facing health care today. We believe there's an unprecedented opportunity to invent a new vision for health care, and academic medicine is poised to lead the way. Algorithms for Innovation is designed to spark conversations, highlight best practices, and foster collaboration to help transform the future.

Vivian Lee

Vivian S. Lee
M.D., Ph.D., MBA

Senior VP for Health Sciences
Dean, School of Medicine
CEO, University of Utah Health Care
@vivianleemd +Vivian Lee

Apr

15

Building a Global Force in Public Health, a "Light to all the World"

When people wonder why the University of Utah is spending time and resources cultivating relationships with countries like Ghana -- or China and Korea -- I tell them: Because having a global presence helps us think differently about health care, and enables us to apply global innovations locally, benefitting everyone in our community.

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Apr

10

U. Geneticists Unlocking Nature’s Mysteries and Clues to Life Saving Treatments

A University of Utah study published in Nature Genetics is the first to document how genes build the diaphragm. This is important, writes New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer, because the diaphragm appears to have played a pivotal role in our evolution as a species. It also helps explain what goes wrong in babies born with a catastrophic birth defect know as a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).

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Research Roundup


Mutations in RAG1 Gene Linked to Even More Immunodeficiency Diseases

Author: Attila Kumánovics, M.D.
Co Author: David Buchbinder, Emily M. Coonrod, Jacob D. Durtschi, Nancy Augustine, Karl V. Voelkerding, M.D., Harry R. Hill, M.D.
Journal: Journal of Clinical Immunology
Date: 04-28-2015

In a multi-institution study published in the Journal Clinical of Immunology, University of Utah researchers and colleagues have extended the spectrum of diseases caused by mutations in the RAG1 gene to include antibody deficiency diseases. They made the discovery after identifying a deficiency in RAG1 in two patients who were diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), an antibody deficiency disorder that leads to recurrent infections, such as pneumonia, and other complications. Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, identify and neutralize infectious agents, and a decrease in antibody production leads to infections.

Various mutations in the RAG1 gene already were know to cause a number of immune deficiencies, such as severe combined immunodeficiency and Omenn syndrome. RAG1-deficient patients are predicted to have high risk of life-threatening infections, therefore the identification of these mutations suggests treatments not usually considered for patients with CVID. The study shows that single-gene testing for most immunodeficiency diseases is not enough and that gene panels, exome sequencing and soon whole genome testing must be used to diagnose them, according to senior author Attila Kumánovics, M.D., of the ARUP Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology and assistant professor of pathology at the University of Utah.

The study's first author is David Buchbinder, of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., and the National Institutes of Health.

View article in Journal of Clinical Immunology

An 'SOS' for Metabolic Stress

Author: Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D.
Co Author: Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, M.D., Ph.D., Osama A. Youssef, Ph.D., Sarah A. Safran, Takahisa Nakamura, Ph.D., David A. Nix, Ph.D.
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date: 04-03-2015

Upon viral invasion, the body launches its defenses in an effort to fight the infection. When a protein called PKR binds double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) made by viruses, the act signals that the fight is on. Several years ago, Dr. Gökhan Hotamisligil from Harvard University, a collaborator in this study, reported that mice fed an unhealthy, high-fat diet activated PKR even in the absence of viral infection. This surprising result prompted Dr. Brenda Bass and her team at the University of Utah to search for molecules that activated PKR during metabolic stress. Unexpectedly, they found that this function was performed by small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) from our own bodies, known primarily for their role in modifying RNA. A key question for future studies is whether the interaction between PKR and snoRNAs can be modulated to control the chronic inflammation that occurs in metabolic stress disorders like obesity and diabetes.

View article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Research Lab Website

Genetic Counseling Helps Parents Cope with 'Uncertain' Genetic Test Result in Children

Author: Erin Rothwell, Ph.D.
Co Author: Stephanie Jez, Sarah South, Ph.D., Megan Martin, Rena Vanzo
Journal: Journal of Community Genetics
Date: 03-05-2015

Chromosomal microarray is the recommended first-tier genetic test when a child presents with idiopathic developmental delay, intellectual disability, and/or autism spectrum disorder. This type of testing, which can simultaneously detect genetic abnormalities on all chromosomes, may discover variants of unknown clinical significance (VUS). When a genetic test determines a child’s disability or disorder is “uncertain,” it can cause parental stress and anxiety. In this study, University of Utah researchers surveyed parents of children with a disability or disorder about their understanding of an uncertain genetic test result and its impact on stress and anxiety. Parents reported that this result was important for understanding their child’s diagnosis and they were satisfied with the information. A majority of parents reported high confidence in their ability to explain an uncertain genetic test result to others. Many of them also stated they received support from a genetic counselor. Based on these survey results, uncertain genetic results are important to parents of children with VUS and genetic counseling regarding uncertain results contributes positively to both parental understanding and support. Stephanie Jez, a student in the University of Utah Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, led the project.

View article in Journal of Community Genetics

Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma Thrives on Lactate

Author: Kevin B. Jones, M.D.
Co Author: Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., , R. Lor Randall, M.D., Allie Grossman, M.D./Ph.D., M.L. Goodwin, H. Jin, K. Straessler, K. Smith-Fry, J.F. Zhu, M.J. Monument
Journal: Cancer Cell
Date: 03-05-2015

Model systems for the study of cancer come in many varieties. Each model transfers some aspect of a human cancer into an experimental setting, such as a culture dish or animal model, to recreate features of the cancer and teach researchers more about its cell biology.  The point of any model's experimental setting is to enable direct testing of cause and effect relationships. Researchers led by Kevin B. Jones, M.D., transferred no more than a single gene from a human cancer called alveolar soft part sarcoma into a mouse. That gene alone then generated a very precise mimic of the original cancer, proving that the gene serves as the central driver of alveolar soft part sarcoma. Further testing with the mice that spontaneously grew these sarcomas further demonstrated that this particular cancer type prefers to grow in tissues with high levels of lactate, a byproduct made when sugar breaks down. By altering the concentrations of lactate to which a tumor was exposed, the investigators were able to alter its growth and behavior. Contrary to old dogma that considered lactate only a waste product, the team proved that these cancers soak in lactate from their surroundings and thrive on it. Work is under way to test means of blocking this use of lactate as a means of stopping tumor growth.

View article in Cancer Cell

In Utah, you can truly have it all. Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas offer new comers diverse neighborhoods, great schools, arts and entertainment, and endless possibilities for sports and recreation. A strong economy and low cost of living make Utah a perfect choice to call home.

University of Utah Health Sciences

University of Utah Health Sciences is an economic engine unlike any other in Utah. With more than 14,000 faculty and staff it is one of the state's largest employers and contributes millions of dollars in net tax revenue to Utah every year. But University of Utah Health Sciences' impact goes beyond the balance sheet. Its bottom line includes the health and well-being of Utah residents in every corner of the state and from all walks of life.

University of Utah Health Sciences is the only university health care system in the state of Utah and provides patient care for the people of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and much of Nevada. It is also the training ground for most of Utah's physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and other health care professionals.

Named as one of theTop 10 in QualityBy University Health System Consortium

Named as one of the100 Great Hospitals In AmericaBy Becker's Hospital Review

Ranked as one of theBest Performing Health Care Systemsby us news & world report

Health Sciences Received$235 Million In GrantsDuring Fiscal Year 2013