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The News Room

Pioneering Drug Researcher Named Dean of College of Pharmacy

(SALT LAKE CITY) A prominent Harvard chemical biologist who pioneered the use of zebrafish to discover new precision drug therapies for cardiovascular and nervous system disorders has been tapped to serve as dean of the University of Utah College of Pharmacy. Randall T. Peterson, Ph.D., will assume his role as dean ...

Data Center Wins $25 Million NIH Grant to Find Ways to Improve Clinical Trials

(SALT LAKE CITY)--Investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine's Data Coordinating Center have been awarded a seven-year, $25 million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health, to form one of three Trial Innovation Centers (TIC) to improve clinical research.  ...

NantHealth and University of Utah Establish Heritage 1K Project to Discover Genetic Causes of 25 Rare and Common Diseases

CULVER CITY, Calif.- NantHealth, Inc., (Nasdaq: NH), a leading next-generation, evidence-based, personalized healthcare company, today announced that it has partnered with the University of Utah in analyzing the entire genomic profiles of at least 1,000 individuals who have a history of rare and life-threatening diseases and conditions in their respective families. The landmark project ...

Size Matters: Advance Could Increase Sensitivity of Liquid Biopsies

Difference in size between circulating tumor and healthy DNA could be turned to an advantage SALT LAKE CITY – The liquid biopsy, a new type of blood test for detecting and monitoring cancer, is a welcome reprieve from typical biopsies. The minimally invasive test could reduce the need for the sometimes ...

NIH Funds Zika Virus Study Involving U.S. Olympic Team

Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health will monitor potential Zika virus exposure among a subset of athletes, coaches and other U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) staff attending the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil. The study, funded by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and ...

DNA Fest Highlights Utah Genetics, Precision Medicine

On July 9, the Natural History Museum of Utah will host a DNA Fest presented in part by Utah Genome Project and USTAR Center for Genetic Discovery investigators. With hands-on activities, families are invited to explore the genome and genetic traits, and learn what they are and how they are ...

When Doctors Admit Bias, Patients Are More Likely to Trust Them

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Medical specialists, not surprisingly, are inclined to recommend treatments and therapies that involve their area of expertise, and patients who learn about such “specialty biases” would be expected to investigate other options for addressing serious health issues. But researchers from the University of Utah, Cornell University and Duke University ...

Welcoming A New Generation of Native Americans to Medicine and Research

With displays of traditional Native American dress and artifacts as reminders of their proud heritage, a group of bright, young students radiated optimism and excitement at the welcome dinner for the Native American Research Internship (NARI), held at the Natural History Museum of Utah. This year, the program is hosting ...

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 ...

Health Care Transformation

Putting It All Out There: How Utah Health System Uses Online Patient Reviews (Gulp) to Get Better — And Why There’s No Need to Fear

When University of Utah Health Care CEO Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., first introduced her plan to make unedited, patient-written physician reviews available online to the public, the idea made many providers squirm. “Why, some asked, would an organization parade its imperfections online? Won’t online reviews distract from the important, hard work of saving lives?” Lee remembered. Such fears were unfounded, Lee writes in a Harvard Business Review piece. In fact, since the launch of “five-star” care, UUHC has seen steady gains in quality metrics and a reduction in costs. Lee outlines how the transparency of reviews lead to better, safer, more cost-effective care, provide the health care system with meaningful information, build trust, and drive continuous improvement. So what’s there to be afraid of?

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A Conversation with Vivian Lee: How the UUHC Chief Became the Leader She is Today

From the daughter of immigrants who hadn’t mastered English to the CEO of a health care system, Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., has developed her own unique, “consultative” leadership style along the way. “Everybody needs to have a chance to express their views, which is why it’s very important to have very diverse perspectives around the table,” Lee told Adam Bryant of The New York Times. “I like to internalize those different views, synthesize them, and then, flavored by my own perspectives, come up with a decision.” In an interview for The Times’ Corner Office, which features conversations about leadership and management, Lee discusses how her parents influenced her leadership style, how her leadership style has evolved, and how she hires. She also offered advice to new college grads: “Just live in the moment. Pour your heart into whatever it is you’re doing and get the most out of that experience.”

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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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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



Imagine Perfect Care

This week we came together to realize a vision that harnesses the power of our entire health system to make care even better. With the help of a broad group of administrators, faculty, staff and students we successfully launched the Imagine Perfect Care Resource Center.

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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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Research Roundup

Physical Abuse More Than Doubles a Woman's Risk for Pelvic Adhesions

Author: Karen C. Schliep, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
Co Author: Sunni L. Mumford, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Erica B. Johnstone, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, C. Matthew Peterson, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Howard T. Sharpe, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Joseph B. Stanford, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Zen Chen, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Uba Backonja, University of Washington Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, Maeve E. Wallace, Tulane University, Mary Amelia Women’s Center, Germaine M. Buck Louis, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Journal: Human Reproduction, June 22, 2016
Date: 07-06-2016
Women with a history of physical abuse face more than twice the risk of developing pelvic adhesions as women with no history of abuse, a new study finds. The research, which included 473 women 18 to 44 years old at surgical centers in Salt Lake City and San Francisco, also found that 43 percent of the women reported having been sexually abused and 39 percent reported experiencing physical abuse. The study found no association between physical or sexual abuse and endometriosis, ovarian cysts or fibroids. The researchers had hypothesized that the higher risk for pelvic adhesions was due to sexually transmitted infections (chlamydia and pelvic inflammation). But an analysis found that preventing and treating such infections would only partly address the problem and that abuse must be stopped to prevent increased risk for pelvic adhesions.

View article in Human Reproduction, June 22, 2016

Gene's Battle with Microbes Promotes Evolutionary Innovation in Humans

Author: Nels C. Elde, assistant professor of human genetics
Co Author: Matthew F. Barber, Ph.D., Zev Kronenberg, Ph.D. , Mark Yandell, Ph.D., professor of human genetics
Journal: PLOS Genetics, May 20, 2016
Date: 05-31-2016
The lactoferrin gene arose in early mammals approximately 160 million years ago, and can still be found in the genomes of humans and other primates. New research shows that lactoferrin, whose original function was to transport nutrient metals such as iron, has undergone “rapid” evolution to develop another role – immune defense against microbes that cause potentially deadly diseases of meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. University of Utah researchers believe changes in the lactoferrin gene show evidence of an ongoing battle that drives evolutionary innovation as microbes find new ways of infecting humans and lactoferrin evolves to repel the invaders. The study shows that natural selection has acted on lactoferrin over millions of years, suggesting that lactoferrin has played an important role in the evolutionary success of living primates. In fact, differences in the lactoferrin gene still exist in different human populations across the world today. The research also demonstrates how the emergence of a new immune function in a gene, such as the one in lactoferrin, can drastically alter evolutionary conflicts with microbes.

View article in PLOS Genetics, May 20, 2016

Research Lab Website

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

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