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The News Room

Meth Damages Adolescent Brains Far More than Those of Adults, Study Finds

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Adolescents who chronically use methamphetamine suffer greater and more widespread alterations in their brain than adults who chronically abuse the drug–and damage is particularly evident in a part of the brain believed to control the “executive function,” researchers from the University of Utah and South Korea report. In a ...

Largest study of its kind documents causes of childhood community-acquired pneumonia

Study shows vaccines against bacterial causes work, need new treatments for viral causes SALT LAKE CITY – With the chill of winter comes a spike in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), which spreads more easily as people retreat indoors and come into close contact. The lung infection triggers persistent coughing, chest pain, fever, ...

Novel "Smart" Insulin Automatically Adjusts Blood Sugar in Diabetic Mouse Model

Seven-year-old Foster’s fingertips are so calloused from pricking them that he now draws blood from the sides of his fingers instead. His mother, Tricia, says his toes are next. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at ten months old, Tricia started turning some of her son's care over to him ...

Identification of a Much-Needed Drug Target Against MRSA, Gram-Positive Infections

The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance, when infectious bacteria evolve to evade drugs designed to control them, is a pressing public health concern. Each year two million Americans acquire antibiotic-resistant infections, leading to 23,000 deaths. In light of these unsettling statistics, there has been a call to develop new weapons ...

Immune System Promotes Digestive Health by Fostering Community of “Good” Gut Bacteria

Hear about the research on The Scope Radio SALT LAKE CITY - As many as 1.4 million Americans suffer from uncomfortable abdominal cramping and diarrhea that come with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These conditions, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are associated with an imbalance among the thousands of ...

Defying Textbook Science, Study Finds New Role for Proteins

Open any introductory biology textbook and one of the first things you’ll learn is that our DNA spells out the instructions for making proteins, tiny machines that do much of the work in our body’s cells. Results from a study published on Jan. 2 in Science defy textbook science, showing ...

American College of Medical Informatics Honors Dr. Julio Facelli

Dr. Julio Facelli has been elected as a 2014 Fellow to the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).  The ACMI Fellowship is one of the highest honors in the field of informatics. Congratulations Dr. Facelli. The ACMI originated in 1984 when five pioneers in ...

Human DNA Shows Traces of 40 Million-Year Battle For Survival Between Primate and Pathogen

Study Highlights Importance of Nutritional Immunity in Fighting Infectious Disease Listen to an interview about the research on The Scope Radio (SALT LAKE CITY) – Examination of DNA from 21 primate species – from squirrel monkeys to humans – exposes an evolutionary war against infectious bacteria over iron that circulates in the ...

New Research Shows Fewer Deaths Related to RSV than Previously Thought

It’s a virus that has long been characterized as dangerous and even deadly, but new research shows infant deaths from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are actually quite uncommon in the 21st century.    Researchers at the University of Utah have shown there are approximately 42 deaths annually associated with RSV in the ...

Genetic Variation Protects Against Major Cause of Strokes--Cervical Artery Dissection

(SALT LAKE CITY)—In an unprecedented international study, researchers from Europe and the United States have shown that individuals carrying a particular genetic variant in the PHACTR1 gene are at reduced risk of sustaining cervical artery dissection, a major cause of stroke in young and middle-aged adults. Cervical artery dissection is caused ...

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 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



Fixing the science gender gap

Our mantra at the University of Utah is to be lifelong partners in health with our communities. Nurturing future generations (our young men and women) is how we can ensure that we’ll all be well looked after in the years to come.

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An afternoon with Michael Porter

Earlier this week I had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Harvard Business School professor and strategist, Michael Porter to our campus. Porter delivered a rousing presentation that really captured the challenges and opportunities health organizations face as we embrace the shift from volume to value.

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The Journey to Value

Starting next year Medicare, which covers 54 million elderly and disabled Americans, will base 30 percent of its payments on quality and safety metrics. By 2018, half of all Medicare payments will fall under this new model.

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Research Roundup

Defective Mechanism for Cell Death Presents Potential Target for Pancereatic Tumors

Author: Jody Rosenblatt, Ph.D.
Co Author: Sean J. Mulvihill, M.D., Jill E. Shea, Ph.D., Gloria Slattum, Ph.D., Matthew A. Firpo, Ph.D., Margaret Alexander
Journal: eLife
Date: 02-19-2015

A single layer of cells acts like a protective skin for the organs in the human body, but this protective layer also is prone to forming tumors. Normally, these protective cells are dividing constantly and when they become too numerous, some are kicked out to die by a process these researchers have found called “extrusion.” Recently, they found that extrusion is defunct in some of the most aggressive tumors—pancreatic and lung carcinomas—and that instead of dying the cells accumulate and are resistant to chemotherapy. Additionally, some cells can pop into instead of out of the tissue, which could enable them to move to other organs and metastasize—an even more deadly prospect. From learning this basic cellular mechanism for how cells should die, the researchers identified a chemical way to bypass the defects seen in pancreatic cancer without affecting the normal tissue, which could provide a new therapy for these deadly tumors.

View article in eLife

Undocumented Patients Cost Less, Need More Advocacy

Author: Lauren Clark, R.N., Ph.D.
Co Author:
Journal: Nursing Outlook
Date: 02-19-2015
Although undocumented residents comprise an estimated 28 percent of the foreign-born U.S. population, their care is less costly and their use of emergency services less frequent than their native-born counterparts. That’s not necessarily good news. Undocumented residents may avoid seeking health care because they are twice as likely to be uninsured or because they fear surveillance or deportation when accessing health services. Their absence from the health care arena partially explains undocumented residents’ health care disparities. “Nurses have an ethical responsibility to advocate for undocumented individuals’ access to care,” wrote Lauren Clark, Ph.D., FAAN, University of Utah professor of nursing and co-author of a piece examining the issue of health care for undocumented residents. “Advocacy might include assuring a qualified interpreter is present for care. Sometimes advocacy is listening to a person’s life experience and humanizing their care during that encounter.” Clark conducted the study with colleagues at the University of South Carolina and University of Arizona.

View article in Nursing Outlook

Standarizing Care Cuts Appendectomy Cost by 20 Percent

Author: David E. Skarda, M.D.
Co Author: Eric Scaiffe, M.D.
Journal: American Journal of Pediatric Surgery
Date: 02-19-2015

As the cost of U.S. health care continues to skyrocket, University of Utah surgeons and other researchers have found a way to both decrease cost and improve outcomes as they treat appendicitis, the most common surgical emergency in children. In a study with 580 patients treated for non-ruptured appendicitis, they found that introducing a protocol to eliminate variability in treatment could reduce the duration of hospital stay and total cost of care by 20 percent, while decreasing the rate of readmission, reoperation and other complications. The protocol standardized everything from the evaluation to diagnose appendicitis to the type, dose, duration and timing of prescribing antibiotics before surgery. David E. Skarda, M.D., the study’s first author, says this shows how applying principles learned in the manufacturing industry to health care is safe, decreases cost and improves outcomes. 

View article in American Journal of Pediatric Surgery

A “Hybrid” Approach to Urine Testing for Compliance with Long-Term Drug Use

Author: Gwen A. McMillin
Co Author: Frederick G. Strathmann
Journal: American Journal of Clinical Pathology
Date: 02-01-2015

Urine drug testing is a common tool for evaluating compliance with long-term, prescribed medications, such as for managing chronic pain, and for assuring abstinence from illegal or non-prescribed medications. This "compliance testing" requires a different approach from the traditional urine drug testing that is common to the workplace, military or among athletes. The approach for compliance testing is not currently standardized. To address this, University of Utah and Associated Regional University Pathologists (ARUP) researchers developed a unique method for urine drug testing that is designed specifically to meet the needs of compliance testing.  The approach is called a "hybrid" because it combines several analytical methods, including high-resolution mass spectrometry and immunoassays, that were selected to optimize quality of testing and time to result, as well as to reduce the overall costs of testing.

View article in American Journal of Clinical Pathology

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