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Why Do So Many Children Born With Heart Defects Have Trouble in School?

SALT LAKE CITY -30 years ago, being born with a severe heart defect was practically a death sentence. But as advances in medicine have given rise to generations of survivors, it’s emerging that over half have behavioral problems and difficulty keeping up academically. Two groups from the University of Utah School ...

HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell Discusses Health Care Reform During Visit to University of Utah Health Care

(Salt Lake City)—U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell visited University of Utah Health Care on Thursday to discuss Utah’s role as a leader in health care transformation. Representatives from other health care organizations, local government and business joined UUHC and Secretary Burwell in a roundtable discussion to talk ...

Grant Aids Dental School in Providing Care for Overlooked Population: Substance Abusers

(SALT LAKE CITY)—People with drug problems don’t often come to mind as an underserved population regarding health care. Yet, because of their substance abuse issues, they often go without essential medical services, particularly when it comes to caring for their teeth and other oral tissues. “This population is almost always ignored,” ...

Viruses Thrive In Big Families, In Sickness and In Health

Listen to two interviews about the research on The Scope Radio Study suggests that big families have viral infections for 87 percent of the year. But only half of infections cause illnessSALT LAKE CITY - The BIG LoVE (Utah Better Identification of Germs-Longitudinal Viral Epidemiology) study, led by scientists at the ...

Genetic Tug of War in the Brain Influences Behavior

WATCH VIDEO - Not every mom and dad agree on how their offspring should behave. But in genetics as in life, parenting is about knowing when your voice needs to be heard, and the best ways of doing so. Typically, compromise reigns, and one copy of each gene is inherited ...

Health Care Providers A Major Contributor to Problem of Antibiotic Overuse

SALT LAKE CITY - 10 percent of health care providers write an antibiotic prescription for nearly every patient (95 percent or more) who walks in with a cold, bronchitis or other acute respiratory infection (ARI), according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-supported study published in the Annals ...

Genetic Testing in Kids is Fraught with Complications

American Society of Human Genetics Issues Recommendations on Age-Appropriate Genetic Testing in Children and Adolescents A woman coping with the burden of familial breast cancer can’t help but wonder if her young daughter will suffer the same fate. Has she inherited the same disease-causing mutation? Is it best to be prepared ...

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



The Exceptional Huntsman Cancer Institute

This month, the Huntsman Cancer Institute achieved a significant milestone—the designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, joining an elite group of just over 40 cancer centers across the nation with this award. This designation reflects on the remarkable success the Huntsman Cancer Institute has had in catalyzing collaboration across the health sciences and university.

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On the Importance of Marrying Science with Compassion

At a time when the nation is so singularly focused on the business of health care –– on getting lean, bending the cost curve, and treating patients as consumers –– it can feel as if medicine has strayed from its roots, its raison d'être. Why, then, as I reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing our graduating Class of 2015, I am filled with so much optimism?

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A Low-Tech Tool for Everyone's Health Toolbox

Family health portraits are growing in importance as scientists race to find the genetic causes of all manner of diseases, and develop targeted drugs, treatments and personalized prevention plans. Most Americans understand this; 96 percent consider family health histories to be “very important” or “somewhat important,” according to 2014 survey by a pediatric oncologist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics here at the University of Utah. Yet fewer than 37 percent actively compile such information.

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Research Roundup

Sea Snail's Toxic Venom May Bring Relief to People with Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Author: J. Michael McIntosh, M.D., professor of psychiatry and research professor of biology
Co Author: Sulan Luo, Hainan University, Haikou Hainan, China, Sean Christensen, Cheryl Dowell, Melissa McIntyre, Haylie K. Romero, University of Utah
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date: 08-25-2015

University of Utah researchers identified a new potential pain management medication that has broad implications for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain due to injury to the nerves, spinal cord or brain. This discovery is the result of a collaborative study of the deadly venom from predatory marine cone snails (Conus generalis) that are indigenous to the South China Sea. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a study with rats, the U researchers and colleagues at identified a peptide, GeXIVA alphaO-contoxin, found in the venom of the cone snails  appears to relieve pain without impairing motor skills, suggesting it does not cross the blood-brain barrier as most narcotic pain medications do. In addition, the analgesic effects of GeXIVA occur at much lower doses with greater than or equal effects of the opioid morphine. “This new information may lead to a new treatment for chronic and debilitating pain in millions of people around the world,” says J. Michael McIntosh, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah. “We have identified a previously unrecognized peptide, GeXIVA, for the treatment of persistent pain.”

Neuropathic pain can result from damage to nerves from diabetes, degenerative disc disease, and tumors pressing on the nerves, infection, repetitive motion disorders and many other conditions. In some cases doctors cannot find an exact cause of the pain but it is constant and can be intense. There is no completely effective treatment for this type of severe incessant pain. But identifying this novel mechanism for pain management opens the door for further research and future clinical trials of medications.

The U researchers collaborated with colleagues from Hainan University, Haikou Hainan, China; the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, Mo.

View article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Understanding a Crucial Process in Mitochondrial Health

Author: Timothy Graham, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine
Co Author: Ashot Sargsyan, graduate student biological chemistry
Journal: Nature Scientific Reports
Date: 08-18-2015

Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside cells – they harness oxygen to produce the energy cells need to perform their normal activities.  In addition, mitochondria act as important sentinels monitoring cellular health, and can trigger programmed cell death (known as apoptosis) if cells are not functioning normally.  However, mitochondria themselves can become dysfunctional, releasing toxic factors that damage the cells that contain them, resulting in diseases such as diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and a variety of neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, ALS, and Alzheimer's disease.  Therefore, understanding how mitochondrial health can be maintained could provide breakthrough strategies for preventing or treating many conditions.

When mitochondria grow old or become damaged, they are normally "rounded up" and delivered to lysosomes, a part of the cell that functions as a trash disposal and recycling facility.  Lysosomes contain acid and enyzmes that breakdown cellular components allowing them to be recycled or used for making energy.  This process is known as 'mitophagy' (Greek for 'eating of mitochondria'), and there is increasing evidence that many diseases associated with accumulation of damaged or dyfunctional mitochondria are caused in part by defective mitophagy.

Until recently, studies of mitophagy were very laborious, requiring researchers to analyze one cell at a time to determine how effectively cells are recycling their old and damaged mitochondria.  A team led by Timothy Graham, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine in the Molecular Medicine Program at the Utah Diabetes and Metabolism Center, and Ashot Sargsyan, a graduate student in biological chemistry, recently reported development of a ground-breaking method that enables researchers to measure mitophagy in tens of thousands of cells in just a few seconds.  They made use of a newly developed fluorescent protein probe that they attached to mitochondria inside cells.  When mitochondria are delivered to lysososomes the probe changes color indicating that mitophagy is occurring.  By coupling this method with high-throughput cell analyzers this method will allow researchers to screen thousands of drugs or gene therapies a day to identify new approaches to enhancing mitophagy in cells, or inhibiting process that lead to deficient mitophagy.




View article in Nature Scientific Reports

Diabetes Patients Fare Better When Pharmacist Leads Follow-up Care

Author: Carrie McAdam-Marx, Ph.D., RPh, associate professor of pharmacotherapy
Co Author: Karen Gunning, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy, Brandon Jennings, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy, Arati Dahal, Ph.D., U Pharmacotherapy Outcomes Research Center, Mukul Singhal, B.Pharm., doctor student U College of Pharmacy
Journal: Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy
Date: 07-27-2015

Type 2 diabetes patients may do better controlling their blood sugar levels when they receive follow-up primary care from a team of providers led by a clinical pharmacist. Further, a study led by a University of Utah College of Pharmacy faculty found that a pharmacist-led Diabetes Collaborative Care Management Program (DCCM) could better hold the costs of medical care. The researchers conducted the study using de-identified medical records of Type 2 diabetes patients who’d had trouble controlling their blood sugar levels and were treated at patient-centered, community-based primary care clinics in the greater Salt Lake City area. The study looked at patients whose drug management was led by a clinical pharmacist and those whose plan was not managed by a clinical pharmacist and compared health care outcomes, how often they saw their providers and the total health care costs of each group. “A pharmacist-led diabetes collaborative care management program in a patient-centered primary care setting was associated with significantly better follow-up glycemic control relative to comparison patients,” the researchers reported in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy. The data also suggested that the DCCM program was associated with a less substantial increase in all-cause total costs in patients with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes relative to the comparison patients. This could help reduce costs of managed care payers, the researchers reported.

View article in Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy


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

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