John F. Hurdle, MD, PhD

Research Interests

  • Nutritional Data Mining
  • Clinical Natural Language Processing
  • Ethics Committees, Research
  • Health Services


  • English

Academic Information

  • Departments: Biomedical Informatics - Professor

Academic Office Information

  • 801-213-3232
  • Biomedical Informatics
    421 Wakara Way, Room: Suite 140, Room 2028
    Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Research Statement

I have a long-standing interest in quality and safety issues in healthcare but over the past decade I have branched into two new and challenging lines or research. My POET natural language processing lab works to develop practical and efficient tools that can extract information locked in clinical narrative text. Increasingly we need the information that can only be found in text to augment traditional structured information like laboratory test results for medication lists. In combination, these two types of data are essential for modern data analytics. My other lab focuses on nutrition data mining (NDM). Nutrition informatics holds great promise, especially as the United States faces an epidemic of diet-related diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes, and malnutrition. Nutrition informatics is very much in its infancy, and our Department is the first major informatics program to engage nutrition in a serious and principled way. We currently have two primary goals for this work: 1) creating clinician-facing apps that display the nutritional status and trends of patients, so that nutrition and diet can become a part of shared decision-making; and 2) building scalable tools that can measure the food quality of what patients eat as well as deliver targeted, personalized recommendations to steer patients towards a healthier household food environment.

Academic Bio

Dr. John F. Hurdle earned his MD from the University of Colorado (1981) and his MS Computer Science from Columbia University the same year, followed by a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Utah (1994). He took his informatics postdoctoral training here at Utah (1996-97). Following his postdoctoral training, Dr. Hurdle worked as a research clinical informaticist at the Salt Lake Veterans Medical Center’s (VAMC) Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (1998-2004). While there, he was the Principal Investigator on two VA Health Services Research and Development (HSRD) Grants, the first such grants funded at that VAMC in over two decades. His small center grant from HSRD has grown into a multi-million dollar HSRD enterprise at the VAMC and includes the VA’s primary informatics research infrastructure, VINCI. He joined the Department of Biomedical Informatics (BMI) in 2005, and in 2007 he served as a Senior Fellow at the National Library of Medicine. Dr. Hurdle holds the rank of Professor. His work in the BMI spans clinical informatics, clinical research informatics, and public health/consumer health informatics. In addition to a long-standing concentration on improving patient safety, he currently directs a lab that focuses on clinical natural language processing (NLP) and another lab that focuses on nutrition data mining (NDM) . The POET NLP lab builds tools to unlock the content of clinical narratives using NLP, so that this content can be used in data analytics and cohort identification. The QualMART NDM lab is comprised of University of Utah researchers, graduate students, and post-docs who have expertise in computer science, biomedical informatics, nutrition, and consumer behavior. Our long-term goal calls for partnering with health plans, healthcare providers, and grocery retailers to incentivize shoppers to improve the quality of their home food environment. The approach we use is highly multidisciplinary, weaving together consumer behavior theory, high-performance computing and simulation, cutting-edge nutrition modeling, and large-scale database management.Active in both service and education, he directs the Department’s Graduate Program and is the principal investigator of the BMI T15 NLM Training Grant. Dr. Hurdle has served as a grant reviewer for the National Library of Medicine’s Standing Study Section (2008-2012) and continues to participate in special emphasis panel grant reviews for NLM and other NIH institutes. He served as Chair of the American Medical Informatics Association’s Ethics Committee when it created AMIA’s first code of professional conduct. He also served as member, Vice Chair, and Chair of the University’s Institutional Review Board (1999 – present) as well as Chair of the Resource for Genetic and Epidemiologic Research (2011-present), the data governance body overseeing the use of the Utah Population Database. “I was once asked by a recruiter how I could rationalize staying in academic biomedical informatics rather than work in industry for a lot more money? ‘Oh that’s easy’, I told her, ‘In industry you work on what they want…in academics, I work on what I want.’”

Education History

Type School Degree
Research Fellow National Institutes of Health/NLM
Biomedical Informatics
Senior Research Fellow
Postdoctoral Fellowship University of Utah, Department of Medical Informatics and The Veterans Administration
Biomedical Informatics
Postdoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training University of Utah
Computer Science
Graduate Training Columbia University
Computer Science
Professional Medical University of Colorado, Denver
Undergraduate Colorado College

Global Impact


Institution Description Country
University of Maryland (European Division), Computer Studies Adjunct Germany
University of Maryland, European Division Director (CIO), Info Systems, Admin Computing, Institutional Research Germany

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Brewster P, Guenther PM, Jordan KC, Hurdle JF (2015). Development and Validation of a Novel Household Grocery Food Purchase Quality Score. FASEB J, 29(1), 131-3.
  2. He S, Botkin JR, Hurdle JF (2015). An Analysis of Information Technology Adoption by IRBs of Large Academic Medical Centers in the United States. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics, 10(1), 31-6.
  3. Tran LT, Brewster PJ, Chidambarab V, Hurdle JF (06/20/2015). Towards Measuring the Food Quality of Grocery Purchases: an Estimation Model of the Healthy Eating Index-2010 Using only Food Item Counts. doi:10.1016/j.profoo.2015.06.020. Procedia Food Sci, 4, 148-159.
  4. Hurdle JF, Haroldsen SC, Hammer A, Spigle C, Fraser AM, Mineau GP, Courdy SJ (09/15/2014). Identifying clinical/translational research cohorts: ascertainment via querying an integrated multi-source database.IMIA Yearbook of Medical Informatics 2014. Yearbook of Medical Informatics.
  5. He S, Narus SP, Facelli JC, Lau LM, Botkin JR, Hurdle JF (2014). A domain analysis model for eIRB systems: addressing the weak link in clinical research informatics. J Biomed Inform, 52, 121-9.
  6. Bradford W, Hurdle JF, LaSalle B, Facelli JC (2014). Development of a HIPAA-compliant environment for translational research data and analytics. J Am Med Inform Assoc, 21(1), 185-9.
  7. Chidambaram V, Brewster PJ, Jordan KC, Hurdle JF (2013). qDIET: toward an automated, self-sustaining knowledge base to facilitate linking point-of-sale grocery items to nutritional content. AMIA Annu Symp Proc, 2013, 224-33.
  8. He S, Ganzinger M, Hurdle JF, Knaup P (2013). Proposal for a data publication and citation framework when sharing biomedical research resources. Stud Health Technol Inform, 192, 1201.
  9. Hurdle JF, Smith KR, Mineau GP (2013). Mining electronic health records: an additional perspective. Nat Rev Genet, 14(1), 75.
  10. Hurdle JF, Haroldsen SC, Hammer A, Spigle C, Fraser AM, Mineau GP, Courdy SJ (2013). Identifying clinical/translational research cohorts: ascertainment via querying an integrated multi-source database. J Am Med Inform Assoc, 20(1), 164-71.
  11. Brinkerhoff KM, Brewster PJ, Clark EB, Jordan KC, Cummins MR, Hurdle JF (2011). Linking supermarket sales data to nutritional information: an informatics feasibility study. AMIA Annu Symp Proc, 2011, 598-606.
  12. He S, Hurdle JF, Botkin JR, Narus SP (2010). Integrating a Federated Healthcare Data Query Platform With Electronic IRB Information Systems. AMIA Annu Symp Proc, 2010, 291-5.

Book Chapter

  1. Facelli LC, Hurdle JF, Mitchell JA (February 2012). Medical and Bioinformatics. In Ziad O., Abu-Faraj (Eds.), Biomedical Engineering Education & Advanced Bioengineering Learning: Interdisciplinary Concepts. Hershey, PA: IGI GLOBAL.

Conference Proceedings

  1. Chidambaram VC, Brewster PJ, Tran T, Jordan KC, Hurdle JF (2014). qDIET: Toward Calculating HEI Scores From Grocery Store Sales Data. Proc NJNDC 2014, Portland, OR: NNDC.


  1. Tran LT, Brewster PJ, Chidambaram V, Hurdle JF (2014). An Estimation Model of the Healthy Eating Index 2010 to Measure the Dietary Quality of Grocery Purchases. (poster) [Abstract].


  1. Brewster PJ, Hurdle JF (June, 2011). Dietary Pattern Analysis Using Electronic Grocery Transaction Data. Poster session presented at National Library of Medicine Annual Training Conference 2011, Bethesda, MD.