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HPV Rate Highest in High-Poverty, Hispanic Communities

The campaign to immunize children to protect against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) has never quite gone mainstream. And new research from University of Utah College of Nursing Assistant Professor Deanna Kepka, Ph.D., M.P.H> reveals just how difficult it might be to meet national objectives for herd immunity. In a paper released ...

World of Heart Recovery Medicine to Focus on Latest Advances at U of U Symposium

Cardiac Recovery Symposium Jan. 14-15, 2016Health Sciences Education Building atrium (map)University of Utah School of Medicine(Salt Lake City)—One in five of us will be diagnosed with heart failure during our lifetime, a condition in which the heart fails to pump normally. A staggering 50 percent of these patients will die ...

Top Five Most Memorable Science Moments of 2015

University of Utah Health Sciences made significant contributions to diverse aspects of health and science research in 2015. Here are some of our favorites. Visit The News Room for a complete list. How Elephants Evade Cancer (and What It Could Mean for Us Humans) The laws of probability say that elephants, large ...

Wired for Gaming: Brain Differences Found in Compulsive Video Game Players

SALT LAKE CITY - Brain scans from nearly 200 adolescent boys provide evidence that the brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently. Chronic video game play is associated with hyperconnectivity between several pairs of brain networks. Some of the changes are predicted to help game players respond to ...

Advancing the BRAIN Initiative

The White House BRAIN initiative promises to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain by supporting development of dynamic approaches for investigating brain function. Forging a synergistic partnership with the University of Utah, the National Science Foundation awarded $2.77 million in BRAIN Initiative grants to neuroscience faculty in 2015. Founded in 2014, ...

Why Online Doctor Ratings are Good Medicine

A growing number of health consumers are consulting online physician-rating sites when choosing doctors even if the value of those sites—whether they’re reliable sources for information, or capable of driving improvements in health care—is in dispute. Some studies have shown how letting patients grade their doctors can lead to over-testing and ...

Advances in Precision Medicine and Translational Research: PPH and CCTS Pilot Award Symposium

On December 2, 2015, lead investigators of interdisciplinary teams will present their research toward advancing customized healthcare. Each team is the recipient of a seed grant from University of Utah’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) and Program in Personalized Health (PPH) pilot program designed to combine talent, resources, ...

Study Shows Benefits of Intensive Blood Pressure Management

Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial could impact medical guidelines for treating hypertension, but questions remain See also: How Low to Go for Blood Pressure? Lower Target Could Affect Millions of Americans SALT LAKE CITY - Patients whose blood pressure target was lowered to reach a systolic goal of less than 120 mmHg ...

Health Care Transformation

What can other States Learn from Utah about Delivering Great Health Care?

Utah “holds a unique distinction” when it comes to health care, according to a special report by the New England Journal of Medicine. No other state spends less per capita on medical care and few boast healthier populations. The question is, why? Utah’s “clean-living people” and youthful demographics deserve some of the credit, writes journalist Elizabeth Gardner. But so does its high quality, efficient health care system. Even after controlling for Utah’s population, the state’s hospitals have good health outcomes and low costs.

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A Utah Hospital Cracks the Code on Better, More Affordable Care

"Many hospitals admit they can barely keep track of their own operating costs, and those costs get passed onto us. But one hospital in Utah has figured out a way to get a handle on the problem and others are anxious to follow its lead," said NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in a Thanksgiving weekend segment featuring a cost analysis system that has enabled University of Utah Health Care to actually bend the cost curve. And what the Utah system has found is: Lower-cost care is better care. "We don't just want to be chasing the dollar. We want to make sure our patients have great outcomes at lower costs," explains the health system's CEO Vivian S. Lee, M.D. Ph.D., M.B.A.

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Utah Health System Leads in Asking: What Does it Cost?

Price is one thing, but what does it actually cost to provide health care? What does a minute in an M.R.I. machine cost, or an hour in the operating room? University of Utah Health Care is among a few health systems in the country able to answer those questions, reports Gina Kolata of The New York Times. A cost data-mining project set into motion years ago by Senior Vice President of Health Sciences, Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., is attracting national attention, saving money and improving care, writes Kolata. “While costs at other academic medical centers in the area have increased an average of 2.9 percent a year over the past few years, the University of Utah’s have declined by 0.5 percent a year.”

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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



We’re Keeping Our New Year’s Resolution: Better Health Care for All

What does excellent health care look like? It’s a question on the mind of every health industry leader in this country, and it’s a question of value. For all that we spend on health care in the U.S., what do we get in return? Are we getting our money’s worth? At University of Utah Health Sciences, I’m proud to say, the answer is yes.

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Meaningful Mentoring Makes A Difference

Diversity fuels innovation. I’ve written about this before—about how creative solutions to big problems requires a diversity of thought and perspective. Today, I’ve invited our associate vice president for faculty and academic affairs Carrie Byington, M.D., to explain a mentoring program that is making campus a better, more inclusive place to learn, work and innovate while helping to solve the physician-scientist shortage.

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Research Roundup

Older People with Low Levels of Bicarbonate at Higher Risk for Dying Prematurely

Author: Kalani L. Raphael, M.D., M.S., associate professor of internal medicine (nephrology), University of Utah
Co Author: Linda F. Fried, M.D., MPH, professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Health ABC study
Journal: Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Jan. 14, 2016
Date: 01-27-2016
Otherwise healthy older people with low levels of bicarbonate, a major element in the body that helps maintain proper pH balance, were at a 24 percent higher risk of dying prematurely than those in a study group whose bicarbonate levels were normal or even high. Researchers analyzed information on 2,287 healthy black and white adults 70-79 years old who were part of the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study, which began in 1997. Survival data were evaluated through February 2014 and study participants were followed for an average of more than 10 years. The analysis showed that people with normal or high bicarbonate levels had a similar risk of dying during the follow-up period, but those with low levels faced a substantially higher risk of dying earlier. Bicarbonate helps maintain proper pH balance, which is important to keep cells and organs working properly. However, the overall pH levels of participants in the study appeared to have no association with early death among people who had low bicarbonate levels. The study findings suggest that physicians might want to take a closer look at the bicarbonate levels in older patients to identify those at risk for dying prematurely.

View article in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Jan. 14, 2016

Prevention Program Eliminates Bloodstream Infections in Burn Trauma Unit Patients

Author: Amalia Cochran, M.D., M.A., associate professor of surgery
Co Author: Lois Remington, BSN, Iris Faraklas, BSN, Kristy Gauthier, BSN, Colby Carper, BSN, J. Bradley Wiggins, BSN, Giovanni M. Lewis, M.D., assistant professor of surgery
Journal: JAMA Surgery
Date: 01-19-2016

By implementing a program to prevent bloodstream infections associated with central-line catheters, the University of Utah Health Care Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit eliminated those hazards entirely, a multidisciplinary committee of the health care system’s nurses and physicians reported in JAMA Surgery. Central-line catheters are inserted into patients’ veins to serve as a main port for delivering medications, antibiotics and other IV fluids, eliminating the need to insert new catheters each time a patient requires fluids or drugs. Such lines, however, can attract germs and lead to bloodstream infections in patients, an especially important issue in burn trauma intensive care units. The prevention program focuses on key elements to prevent central-line infections, such as ensuring that lines are inserted according to federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommendations, using alcohol-impregnated caps and following updated central-line care standards. The physicians and nurses looked at de-identified records of 478 patients who received central lines in University of Utah Hospital’s Burn Trauma Intensive Care Unit (BTICU) between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2015. Study patients were divided into two groups: those who received burn care before Oct. 1, 2013, when the prevention program was started, and those who received burn care after that date. In the 30 months before the program started, 11 patients got central-line infections in the BTICU. But in the 18 months following the program’s inception until the end of the review period, the patient records showed no such infections, the researchers reported.  

View article in JAMA Surgery

Prostate Cancer Incidence Declines

Author: William Lowrance, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery (urology), investigator, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Co Author: Kimberley Hergett, M.Stat, Darshan P. Patel, M.D., Heidi A. Hanson, Ph.D., M.S., Carol Sweeney, Ph.D.
Journal: Cancer Medicine, 12-12-15
Date: 12-22-2015
The incidence of prostate cancer among U.S. men declined by nearly 20 percent beginning in 2011, a study of data from 2007 through 2012 shows. Researchers looked at prostate cancer diagnoses by age, race, stage of the disease and Gleason score–the most common system doctors use to grade prostate cancer cells based on the likelihood that a tumor will spread–and found that the decline in the disease occurred among all age groups of men. The incidence of low-grade tumors dropped by an estimated 29 percent, while that of high-grade tumors declined by nearly 11 percent. Stage I/II and III tumor incidences went down by 24 percent and almost 17 percent, respectively. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in U.S. men. Beginning in the 1980s, PSA tests became the standard for detecting prostate cancer. The incidence rate peaked in 1992 but has gradually declined since then. In May 2012 the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended against giving PSA tests, citing research showing limited benefits and potential risks associated with prostate cancer screening.

View article in Cancer Medicine, 12-12-15

Brain Circuits Disrupted in Mice Missing a Gene Implicated in Autism, Intellectual Disabilities

Author: Megan Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy
Co Author: E Anne Martin, Department of Neurology, Shruti Muralidhar, Department of Neurology, Zhirong Wang, Department of Neurology, Diégo Cordero Cervantes, Department of Neurology, Raunak Basu, Department of Neurolog, Matthew R Taylor, Department of Neurology, Jennifer Hunter, Department of Neurology, Tyler Cutforth, Columbia University, Scott A Wilke, Columbia University, Anirvan Ghosh, Columbia University
Journal: eLife, Nov. 17, 2015
Date: 11-18-2015

Alterations to brain circuits underpinning intellectual disability, autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders appear to be related to subtle cellular changes that occur when a gene is disrupted in the hippocampus–a major part of the brain needed for learning and memory, new research with mice has shown. Variations in the Kirrel3 gene are associated with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability and Jacobsen syndrome, a rare developmental disorder. In light of this association, Utah researchers studied how changes in Kirrel3 damage brain circuits that people need for learning and memorization. Their study found that the gene helps form part of the mossy fiber synapse, a large synapse in the hippocampus. Synapses are connectors that help brain cells, or neurons, to communicate through electrical and chemical signals. Any cognitive task a person undertakes–from tying shoelaces, to memorizing the alphabet, to solving complex problems–requires neurons to communicate with each other. The researchers found that in developing mice lacking the Kirrel3 gene part of the mossy fiber synapse was malformed, causing the hippocampus to become overactive. It has long been thought that intellectual disabilities arise from altered brain functions following even tiny changes to synapses. But what we do still do not understand, is exactly where these tiny changes occur. according to Megan Williams, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy and lead author on the study. In addition to the hippocampus, Kirrel3 is expressed in other areas of the brain that may also have impaired synapses that could contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. Autism spectrum disorder, which affects the social and intellectual development of an estimated one in 68 U.S. children, according to recent studies.

View article in eLife, Nov. 17, 2015

Research Lab Website

In Utah, you can truly have it all. Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas offer newcomers 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 for six years in a row

Named the No. 1 hospital in Utah by U.S. News and World Report

Half our providers rank in the top 10%, and a quarter rank in the top 1% for patient satisfaction

Health Sciences Received$270 Million In GrantsDuring Fiscal Year 2015