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The News Room


Seminal Discoveries in Metabolism Earn Biochemist Jared Rutter, Ph.D., HHMI Investigator Appointment

WATCH VIDEO — A University of Utah biochemist whose research has significantly expanded the understanding of human metabolism–chemical processes that synthesize and break down the building blocks of cells–and its relation to disease has received a highly prized honor in the world of science: selection as an investigator with the ...

Walking an Extra Two Minutes Each Hour May Offset Hazards of Sitting Too Long

A new study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. On the bright side, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine just might do the trick. These findings ...

Road Less Traveled Leads to National Academy of Sciences for Biochemist Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D.

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Distinguished professor of biochemistry Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D., who has devoted her career to understanding mysterious double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules, received one of the highest honors in science today when she was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Bass, also H.A. and Edna Benning Endowed Chair in ...

New Method Increases Accuracy of Ovarian Cancer Prognosis and Diagnosis

Mathematical Technique Reveals Predictive DNA Patterns That Other Methods MissedNearly anyone touched by ovarian cancer will tell you: it’s devastating. It’s bad enough that cancer in almost 80 percent of patients reaches advanced stages before diagnosis, and that most patients are expected to die within five years. But just as ...

Grand Opening of Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building

(SALT LAKE CITY)—A modest program begun 35 years ago to help aspiring Utah students become dentists came full circle on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, with the grand opening of the new home of the University of Utah School of Dentistry (SOD)—the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building.  Named for ...

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 Healthgrades.com 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

May

12

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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Apr

15

Building a Global Force in Public Health, a "Light to all the World"

When people wonder why the University of Utah is spending time and resources cultivating relationships with countries like Ghana -- or China and Korea -- I tell them: Because having a global presence helps us think differently about health care, and enables us to apply global innovations locally, benefitting everyone in our community.

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Research Roundup


Study Finds Smoking Is Not a Primary Risk Factor for Multiple Myeloma

Author: Nicola Camp, Ph.D.
Co Author: Gabriella Andreotti, Mark P. Purdue
Journal: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention
Date: 05-06-2015
The connection between cigarette smoking and various cancers long has been established, but whether the habit is a risk for multiple myeloma has been an open question. A new study by the International Multiple Myeloma Consortium (IMMC) has found that smoking appears not to be a primary risk factor for the cancer.
 
Health systems and academic medical centers from across the United States, Canada and Europe, including the University of Utah, studied 2,670 individuals  with myeloma and 11,913 controls without myeloma. Smoking histories (current, former, those who tried cigarettes but didn’t take up the habit, and those who had never smoked) were compared between the myeloma cases and the controls. Their analysis found that the multiple myeloma cases were not enriched for smokers when compared to controls.
 
Nicola Camp, Ph.D., U of U genetic epidemiologist, professor of medicine and co-author on the study, contributed data from myeloma cases and controls in Utah that were ascertained through the Utah Cancer Registry, Huntsman Cancer Institute Clinics and the Utah Population Database.
 
The only consistently and currently recognized increased risk factors for multiple myeloma are aging and being male or African American, according to Camp. More research is needed to understand risk to this cancer. In particular there is good evidence for genetic risk factors and her work focuses on the identification of these.
 
Gabriella Andreotti of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the National Institutes of Health  (NIH) is the corresponding author on the study, and Mark Purdue, also of the NCI and NIH is the senior author.

View article in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

Critical Immune Factors May Haved Adapted to Evade Common Pathogen Inhibitors

Author: Nels C. Elde
Co Author: Dustin C. Hancks, Melissa K. Hartleuy, Celia Hagen, Nathan L. Clark
Journal: PLOS Genetics
Date: 05-05-2015
A pathogen’s ability to infect new individuals within and across species is largely driven by its capacity to hijack cellular machinery and overcome the immune system. Pathogens have evolved multiple means to evade and shut down host immunity. Typically, mechanisms of inactivation involve direct interactions between host and pathogen factors. To escape inhibition over the course of generations, host factors frequently evolve in a manner that disrupts interactions at specific interfaces with pathogen factors. Likewise, pathogens adapt to restore such interactions, and these genetic tug-of-wars have been described as “molecular-arms races.” University of Utah researchers focused on the adaptation of two critical host immune factors, cGAS and OAS, which share identity in protein structures despite very limited genetic similarity. Their analysis identifies a variety of ways, including amino acid changes on protein surfaces, by which these host factors appear to escape pathogen-mediated inhibition. Surprisingly, some amino acid substitutions are located at equivalent sites suggesting that cGAS and OAS may have adapted to evade common pathogen encoded inhibitors. These data also identify protein surfaces that are targeted by viruses to inhibit host immunity. Taken together the study results indicate the existence of critical, yet-to-be identified viral antagonists of cGAS and OAS.

View article in PLOS Genetics

Research Lab Website

Mutations in RAG1 Gene Linked to Even More Immunodeficiency Diseases

Author: Attila Kumánovics, M.D.
Co Author: David Buchbinder, Emily M. Coonrod, Jacob D. Durtschi, Nancy Augustine, Karl V. Voelkerding, M.D., Harry R. Hill, M.D.
Journal: Journal of Clinical Immunology
Date: 04-28-2015

In a multi-institution study published in the Journal Clinical of Immunology, University of Utah researchers and colleagues have extended the spectrum of diseases caused by mutations in the RAG1 gene to include antibody deficiency diseases. They made the discovery after identifying a deficiency in RAG1 in two patients who were diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), an antibody deficiency disorder that leads to recurrent infections, such as pneumonia, and other complications. Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulins, identify and neutralize infectious agents, and a decrease in antibody production leads to infections.

Various mutations in the RAG1 gene already were know to cause a number of immune deficiencies, such as severe combined immunodeficiency and Omenn syndrome. RAG1-deficient patients are predicted to have high risk of life-threatening infections, therefore the identification of these mutations suggests treatments not usually considered for patients with CVID. The study shows that single-gene testing for most immunodeficiency diseases is not enough and that gene panels, exome sequencing and soon whole genome testing must be used to diagnose them, according to senior author Attila Kumánovics, M.D., of the ARUP Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology and assistant professor of pathology at the University of Utah.

The study's first author is David Buchbinder, of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., and the National Institutes of Health.

View article in Journal of Clinical Immunology

An 'SOS' for Metabolic Stress

Author: Brenda L. Bass, Ph.D.
Co Author: Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, M.D., Ph.D., Osama A. Youssef, Ph.D., Sarah A. Safran, Takahisa Nakamura, Ph.D., David A. Nix, Ph.D.
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date: 04-03-2015

Upon viral invasion, the body launches its defenses in an effort to fight the infection. When a protein called PKR binds double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) made by viruses, the act signals that the fight is on. Several years ago, Dr. Gökhan Hotamisligil from Harvard University, a collaborator in this study, reported that mice fed an unhealthy, high-fat diet activated PKR even in the absence of viral infection. This surprising result prompted Dr. Brenda Bass and her team at the University of Utah to search for molecules that activated PKR during metabolic stress. Unexpectedly, they found that this function was performed by small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) from our own bodies, known primarily for their role in modifying RNA. A key question for future studies is whether the interaction between PKR and snoRNAs can be modulated to control the chronic inflammation that occurs in metabolic stress disorders like obesity and diabetes.

View article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Research Lab Website

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