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kola okuyemi sm

Cancer Health Disparities (faculty mentor: Kola Okuyemi, MD, MPH). The Utah Population Database (UPDB) links genealogical information to demographic and statewide clinical data, including underserved groups. The UPDB has great capacity to address various cancer disparity issues with population-based study designs of cohorts of cancer patients or the general population, and Dr. Okuyemi has investigated ovarian cancer-related disparities among rural residents in Utah using the UPDB. Although other states will not have equivalent population-based databases, there are widespread efforts to link cancer registry data to various large-scale databases such as healthcare claims data, electronic medical records, and statewide databases. Hands-on training will be provided with a sample database from the UPDB, with sample statistical analyses codes provided for statistical programs including SAS and STATA. Training the participants on the possibilities of various data linkages may inspire them to initiate additional linkage studies in their home institutions/states to investigate cancer disparities, and/or may also provide an opportunity to collaborate with faculty in Utah for the UPDB.


Metabolic Diseases Among Rural Breast Cancer Survivors (faculty mentor: Mia Hashibe,  PhD). Population-level data has previously offered invaluable insight on increased risks of disorders among cancer survivors compared to a general population cohort. The undergraduate student will work on a study aiming to investigate whether breast cancer survivors have a higher risk of metabolic diseases compared to women who have never had breast cancer. The study design is a cohort study based in Utah. The data is available to be analyzed, and the student will be trained in a statistical program (e.g., STATA or SAS).

lisa gren sm

Urban Indian Center EHR (faculty mentor: Lisa Gren, PhD). The student project will be set within an ongoing collaboration with the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the College of Nursing at the UU that develops informatics projects suitable for student internships. Relevant to this project is our partnership with the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, which is planning to upgrade their electronic health record in the near future. Examples of informatics projects that students could work on over the course of a summer could include (1) evaluation of system requirements and assessment of interoperability with Utah’s clinical health information exchange, (2) development of surveillance tools and registries for tracking population health, (3) combining clinical and environmental data sources for robust evaluation of social determinants of health, and (4) development of data analytics to use with individual patients and with community groups.

darrah sleeth sm

U-COVER: University of Utah Containment Ventilation for Exposure Reduction (faculty mentor: Darrah K. Sleeth, PhD, MPH, CIH). The study, sponsored by the Department of Defense, involves the iterative design and evaluation of a ventilated aerosol containment device for use with patients with respiratory infections. In this project, the student will assist graduate students with laboratory experiments designed to measure the containment performance of the device. Activities will include: conduct of simulation experiments with salt and fluorescein aerosols, fluorescein analysis with a fluorometer, data entry, data analysis, writing of results and participation in study team meetings with our interdisciplinary research team.


Cancer Health Services and Disparities Research (faculty mentor: Brock O'Neil, MD). Much of our group’s research examines system level problems that result in delivery of low-value care or contribute to health disparities. Undergraduate students will select from a portfolio of projects that examine differences in access, social support, socio-economic status and opioid abuse as contributors to disparities in outcomes among vulnerable populations. We will then focus efforts on disseminating research through a mentored experience that emphasizes scientific writing and presentation with additional exposure to experiences across the research continuum from project inception to publication.

Kelly Baron sm

Circadian timing and energy balance study (Faculty Mentor: Kelly Baron, PhD, MPH). This study, sponsored by the National Institute of Health, examines the associations between circadian misalignment and sleep duration with neurobehavioral processes that affect obesity, such as impulsivity as well as insulin resistance and eating behaviors. The student will assist the team with running the protocol including administering computerized neurobehavioral assessments, measuring eating behaviors and collecting sleep and circadian assessments. The student will also be involved in lab presentation, data analysis and interdisciplinary team meetings.