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Metagenomics Pathogen Detection Tool Could Change How Infectious Diseases Are Diagnosed

SALT LAKE CITY-Scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine, ARUP Laboratories, and IDbyDNA, Inc., have developed ultra-fast, meta-genomics analysis software called Taxonomer that dramatically improves the accuracy and speed of pathogen detection. In a paper published today in Genome Biology, the collaborators demonstrated the ability of Taxonomer to ...

Brit Accents Vex U.S. Hearing-Impaired Elderly

Other studies: Transgender voices, anger and fast-talking women May 25, 2016 – Older Americans with some hearing loss shouldn’t feel alone if they have trouble understanding British TV sagas like “Downton Abbey.” A small study from University of Utah Health Sciences suggests hearing-impaired senior citizens have more trouble than young people ...

Even Frail, Older Adults Could Benefit From Intensive Blood Pressure Reduction

Adults with hypertension who are age 75 years and older, including those who are frail and with poor overall health, could benefit from lowering their blood pressure below current medical guidelines. The multi-institutional investigation was published online in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and presented at the ...

U.S. Olympic Committee Adds the University of Utah to National Medical Network to Support Elite U.S. Athletes

University of Utah Health Care becomes third national medical center to join the network COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the addition of the University of Utah Health Care (UUHC) to the National Medical Network. UUHC will serve as a national medical center, specializing in orthopedic ...

Infants Much Less Likely to Get the Flu if Their Moms Are Vaccinated During Pregnancy

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Babies whose moms get flu vaccinations while pregnant have a significantly reduced risk of acquiring influenza during their first six months of life, a new study shows, leading the authors to declare that the need for getting more pregnant women immunized is a public health priority. In a study ...

Military Sexual Trauma Associated With Higher Risk for Veteran Homelessness

(SALT LAKE CITY)–The devastating consequences of sexual trauma in the military reported by 25 percent of female and 1 percent of male veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces don't end with psychological and physical trauma, but are associated with a much higher risk for homelessness, a study led ...

Making Much Needed Surgery Accessible to Billions Across the Globe

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Today, BMJ Global Health, a new publication launched by the British Medical Journal, published a roadmap to expanding access to surgical care around the world, a major health issue for an estimated 5 billion people worldwide. The authors of the roadmap include University of Utah professor of surgery ...

Cell Therapy May Mend Damaged Hearts, Study Says

Heart Failure Patients Treated with Stem Cell Therapy Have Fewer Cardiac Events (Salt Lake City) - End-stage heart failure patients treated with stem cells harvested from their own bone marrow experienced 37 percent fewer cardiac events - including deaths and hospital admissions related to heart failure - than a placebo-controlled group, reports a new study. Results from ixCELL-DCM, the largest cell therapy ...

Catalyzing Advances in Diabetes, Metabolism, and Obesity Research

University of Utah Diabetes and Metabolism Center Announces Seed Grant Recipients The University of Utah’s Diabetes and Metabolism Center (DMC) has awarded grants to seven projects designed to advance research and practices to improve outcomes for those impacted by diabetes, metabolic abnormalities, and obesity. This year’s recipients come from nine departments ...

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



Having Worked with One of the Best

If you’re lucky in your career, you occasionally have the opportunity to work with truly unique talent. The only problem with truly unique talent is that the more successful they are, the more the rest of the world wants a piece of them. Such is the case with our Hospitals and Clinics CEO, David Entwistle, who is leaving us May 27 to become the president and CEO of Stanford Health Care.

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The 'Best of Times'

This week, in addition to 48 students who will earn their Ph.D.’s, 130 who will receive Masters’ degrees, and 31 undergraduates who will advance, a new class of 81 Utah medical students will become physicians.

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Research Roundup

Author: Robert Z. Tashjian, M.D., associate professor of orthopedics
Co Author: Lisa A. Cannon-Albright, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine, chief of genetic epidemiology, Craig C. Teerlink, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine (genetic epidemiology), James M. Farnham, M.S., genetic epidemiology, Erin K. Granger, MPH
Journal: Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, April 12, 2016
Date: 05-18-2016

People with rotator cuff tears often experience other tendon or nerve problems as well, but it has been unclear whether those associated ailments are influenced by genetics or environment. New research shows strong evidence that those “global” tendinopathies in the shoulders, knees, hips and other areas appear to cluster among blood relatives and spouses of people with torn rotator cuffs, suggesting that both genetic and environmental factors are involved. In a study leveraging de-identified records from the Utah Population Database (UPDB), a storehouse of health and genealogical data on more than 2 million people, and University of Utah Health Care, researchers found that first-degree relatives – parents, siblings, daughters and sons – are almost twice as likely to get global tendon problems or compression neuropathy, a medical condition caused by direct pressure on a single nerve, than people without rotator cuff tears. Second-degree relatives – grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and half-siblings – also face a significantly higher relative risk for developing tendinopathies and compression neuropathies. Even third-degree relatives of people with rotator cuff tears – great-grandparents, great-grandchildren and first cousins – are at a significantly greater risk for getting compression neuropathies and tendinopathies in the hand and/or wrist. While the risk for tendinopathies and compression neuropathy among relatives indicates a genetic connection to rotator cuff tears, the risk for spouses of people with rotator cuff tears is even stronger, signaling that environmental factors also play a role. The records showed that spouses of those with torn rotator cuffs are almost four times more likely to develop global tendinopathies and compression neuropathies, according to the study. The researchers also found that people with rotator cuff tears have the greatest risk of all for getting those aches and pains – ranging from nine to 15 times higher for tendinopathies and compression neuropathies than people without the painful tears.    

View article in Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, April 12, 2016

Zebrafish Findings Offer Explanation for Variability in Signs of Sepsis

Author: Amelia E. Barber, Ph.D., student in the lab of Matthew A. Mulvery, Ph.D.
Co Author: Brittany A. Fleming, Ph.D., student in the lab of Matthew A. Mulvey, Ph.D., Matthew A. Mulvey, Ph.D., professor of pathology
Journal: mSphere
Date: 04-20-2016

When bacteria or other microbes enter the bloodstream they can trigger the activation of numerous host defenses as part of a process known as inflammation. While inflammation can promote the clearance of the invading microbes, it can also cause collateral damage to the body’s own cells and tissues. In extreme cases, the inflammatory pathways used by the body may spiral out of control, resulting in a life-threatening condition known as sepsis that can lead to organ failure and rapid death. Sepsis kills well over 250,000 people each year in the United States and is the most expensive condition to treat in hospitalized patients. Patients with sepsis are especially difficult to manage because the signs and symptoms of the disease can vary greatly between individuals. In patients with sepsis, the infecting microbes are usually viewed as generic triggers of inflammation while the patients themselves are considered the primary variables that affect disease progression and severity. This viewpoint is challenged by new work published in the April issue of the journal mSphere by researchers in the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. The study shows that variations in just a single bacterial protein known as flagellin can significantly alter levels of inflammation and the progression of sepsis. Much of this work used a novel zebrafish infection model that mimics many of the key aspects of sepsis seen in human patients. A better understanding of how different flagellin variants differentially affect host inflammatory responses may help researchers develop improved diagnostic and therapeutic tools for sepsis and related diseases. Use of the zebrafish sepsis model may also facilitate the discovery of new treatments that can restore balance to out-of-control inflammatory pathways.


View article in mSphere

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

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