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The News Room

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 ...

Within Six Families, a Path to Personalized Treatment for an Immune Disorder

(Salt Lake City)—At age 56, Roma Jean Ockler was continually afflicted with sinus infections and pneumonia, and despite treatments, only seemed to be getting worse. For decades, immunologist Harry R. Hill, M.D., had seen patients like her. At the time he couldn’t have known that her family’s genetic information, combined ...

Hidden in Plain Sight: Well-Known Drug Could Yield New Treatment for Herpes Viruses

Heart failure drug also inhibits Epstein-Barr virus by targeting a pathway common to all herpesviruses Today, there is only one class of antiviral medicines against herpesviruses - a family of viruses that cause mononucleosis, herpes, shingles, and meningitis among other illnesses - meaning options for treating these infections are limited. If ...

Ancient Viral Invaders in Our DNA Help Fight Today’s Infections

Listen to a podcast about the research on The Scope Radio (Salt Lake City) - About eight percent of our DNA is viral in origin: remnants of ancient battles between infectious viruses and our ancestors. These so-called endogenous viruses are often perceived as a mere oddity with no clear biological significance. ...

White House Highlights University of Utah-led Project to Help Patients with Rare, Untreatable Diseases at Precision Medicine Summit

(Washington D.C.) - On the eve of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah to discuss the national "moonshot" initiative with cancer experts, University of Utah experts headed to the White House to help shape the Precision Medicine Initiative. Today at ...

What Are the Benefits and Harms of Cancer Screening? Most Guidelines Don’t Tell You

Study finds more than 2/3 of guidelines don’t adequately explain risks, benefits Listen to an interview with Dr. Fagerlin With three sets of breast cancer screening guidelines giving conflicting sets of recommendations, it’s no wonder that patients and physicians are confused. A new study shows that adding to the confusion are the ...

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



Welcome to our new Internal Medicine Chair, Kathy A. Cooney, M.D.

One of the most delightful and important responsibilities of any leader is the recruitment and retention of super stars. This spring, we welcomed a bright star to the University of Utah Health Sciences—an outstanding oncologist and scientist who takes the helm of the School of Medicine’s largest department, Internal Medicine.

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Research Roundup

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

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

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