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The News Room

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

(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 3,000 births, CDH causes the guts and liver to protrude through a defective ...

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 ...

New College of Public Health Opens in Ghana

A collaboration between the University of Utah and private donors has been instrumental in opening a new college of public health in the Republic of Ghana in West Africa. The first class of students recently enrolled at the Ensign College of Public Health, based in Kpong, Ghana, which offers a two-year ...

US News Ranks U of U Health Sciences Programs Among Best in the Country: Significant Jump in Nursing Rankings

University of Utah Health Sciences colleges and programs remain among the best in the nation for training future health care providers in nursing, primary care and research according to the 2015 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Grad Schools. In the magazine’s latest rankings, the University of Utah College ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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Research Roundup

A Critical Link in the Assembly and Spread of HIV-1

Author: Wesley I. Sundquist Ph.D.
Co Author: Gaelle Mercenne Ph.D., Steven L. Alam Ph.D., Matthew S. Lalonde Ph.D., Jun Arii D.V.M.
Journal: eLife
Date: 03-12-2015

To multiply and spread infections, viruses must enter and exit cells. Once inside a cell, many viruses take over the cell’s machinery to produce new viral particles and release them into the surroundings. Some viruses—including HIV-1—exit the cell in a manner that wraps them in membrane from the host cell. A virus protein called Gag is required for the release of HIV-1 and other retroviruses. In some cases, Gag proteins bind directly to members of the NEDD4 protein family to facilitate virus release. However, the Gag protein from HIV-1 does not appear to interact directly with NEDD4 proteins, so it was not clear how this virus connects to these proteins. In a study with laboratory-grown human cells, University of Utah researchers show that members of another human protein family called the Angiomotins are required to wrap the HIV-1 virus in membrane, act as a link between Gag and NEDD4L (one member of the NEDD4 family), and are necessary for efficient virus release from human cells.

View article in eLife

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

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

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