Academic Affairs & Faculty Development

VPCAT Research Scholars Program

2020-2021

2020-2021 Scholar Cohort

Jenny, Alderden, PhD, APRN

Title:  Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Dr. Alderden is a practicing critical care nurse, and studies pressure injuries (bed sores). In the ICU, a tool is used called the Braden scale to predict pressure injury risk in order to allocate preventive interventions that are not feasible for every patient due to cost or time.  However, the Braden scale was developed in 1987 and lacks predictive validity in the ICU today because it lacks specificity. She is working on developing a pressure injury risk prediction model using data readily available in the electronic health record. Accurately predicting pressure injuries will enable nurses to identify the highest risk patients and implement preventive interventions.

 

 

 

 

Email:  jenny.alderden@nurs.utah.edu

Jessica Cohan, MD, MAS

Title:  Assistant Professor, Surgery

As a surgeon, Dr. Cohan recognizes that the decisions we make are inherently high stakes. In order to ensure optimal patient care, these decisions should reflect patient goals and values. This is especially true when there is more than one good treatment option. Her research, therefore, aims to improve surgical outcomes by studying the process of surgical decision-making and developing interventions that increase patient-centered decision making about surgery.

Email:  jessica.cohan@hsc.utah.edu

Brett Einerson, MD, MPH

Title:  Assistant Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Dr. Einerson is a physician-scientist in the Department of OBGYN. Childbirth is a leading driver of health system cost. Yet efforts to control runaway spending, and to make childbirth more patient-centered, have been largely ignored. Through research, advocacy, and leadership, he aims to help health systems deliver cost-conscious, patient-centered care to pregnant women.

Email:  brett.einerson@hsc.utah.edu

Tanya Halliday, PhD, RD

Title:  Assistant Professor, College of Health

Dr. Halliday's research emphasis is in obesity and metabolic disease prevention, and treatment via lifestyle interventions. Obesity and metabolic disease prevalence are high and represent a substantial personal and societal burden, but treatment remains challenging. She is working to understand how exercise of differing modalities impacts hormonal and behavioral indices of appetite regulation and food intake in adults with obesity and prediabetes. A second arm of her research focuses on developing efficacious interventions to prevent weight regain following intentional weight loss. The mission of her research program is to develop and refine individualized, evidence-based interventions for the prevention and management of obesity and its related co-morbidities.

Email:  tanya.halliday@utah.edu

Boyu Hu, MD

Title:  Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Dr. Hu's research focuses on developing novel treatment strategies and therapy combinations for relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients who harbor deficiencies in their DNA damage repair pathways. These patients remain an area of unmet need as they have poor survival outcomes and limited effective treatment options. He is proposing a phase I dose escalation clinical trial to assess the safety and tolerability of combining the PARP inhibitor talazoparib with the BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax as preclinical data suggests there may be added benefit to inhibiting both proteins. If the combination is proven to be both safe and efficacious, this therapy will be incorporated into the treatment paradigm of relapsed/refractory CLL.

Email:  boyu.hu@hsc.utah.edu

Eileen Hwang, MD, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

The Vitreous is a transparent gel in the back of the eye.  Age-related changes in the vitreous gel can help certain retinal diseases. Currently, there is one medication available that can cause age-related changes in the vitreous, but this medication is somewhat toxic, not very effective, and is, therefore, not often used. We know that with age, glycosaminoglycans are lost from the surface of collagen fibrils. Dr. Hwang’s research plans to test whether this causes the fibrils to aggregate into fibers, causing vitreous liquefaction, and posterior vitreous detachment. By investigating why and how the vitreous changes with age, she aims to discover safer and more effective medication to treat these changes.

Email:  eileen.hwang@hsc.utah.edu

Lindsay Keegan, PhD

Title:  Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Dr. Keegan is interested in integrating mathematical and statistical methods with epidemiological questions to address the spread and control of infectious diseases. Her work focuses on understanding the dynamics of a number of antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens that spread primarily in healthcare facilities. She is working to develop a new method to estimate 'who infected whom' for bacterial infections in healthcare facilities by extending existing methods for viral pathogens and accounting for the intricacies of bacterial genomics. This unique approach will trace how pathogens are spreading through healthcare facilities and will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions. 
       

Email:  lindsay.keegan@utah.edu

Alan (Taylor) Kelley, MD, MPH, MSc

Title:  Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

As a VA primary care physician, Dr. Kelley wonders why Veterans sometimes do not access healthcare services in timely or in appropriate ways. Of particular concern are Veterans who are socioeconomically or medically vulnerable—what about them? His current secret-shopper study will compare appointment wait times inside and outside the VA for some of the most vulnerable Veterans—those with addiction and mental illness. Understanding how access compares across settings is critical when deciding where Veterans can and should get their care.

Email:  Alan.kelley@hsc.utah.edu

Andrew Knighton, PhD, CPA

Andrew Knighton, PhD, CPA

Title:  Scientist, Intermountain Healthcare

Dr. Knighton's research focuses on increasing adherence to evidence-based care.  Healthcare outcomes improve when clinicians follow evidence-based practices consistently. Despite this, a multi-year translation gap persists between discovery and consistent, daily application of evidence-based practice (EBP) in inpatient settings.  His research is focused on having implementation scientists work with clinicians using implementation frameworks to aid in creating systematic, hypothesis-driven approaches to (1) understand barriers to adherence and (2) use that information to better design how best to use EBP in different contexts.

Email:  andrew.knighton@imail.org

Ming Lim, MBBChir

Title:  Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Dr. Lim is an adult non-malignant hematologist in the Division of Hematology and Hematological Malignancies. Her clinical and research interest is in congenital bleeding disorders, specifically persons with hemophilia. Despite federal funding and support since 1975, access to care remains a critical barrier for persons with hemophilia. Her research examines access to, and the use, delivery, and outcomes of health care services to understand the needs of persons with hemophilia in the state of Utah. By increasing access to care, this reduces disease-related morbidity and mortality, and the high economic burden of this disease.

Email:  ming.lim@hsc.utah.edu

Jody Lin, MD, MS

Title:  Assistant Professor, Pediatrics

Dr. Lin is an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at the University of Utah. Her research is in shared decision making for children with medical complexity, who make up less than 5% of all children and have poor outcomes in spite of accounting for over 40% of pediatric health expenditures. They face numerous complex decisions that bias toward intensive interventions but should instead focus on individual preferences and values.  Currently, she is using surgical decision making for neuromuscular scoliosis as a test case to move this research forward.

Email:  jody.lin@hsc.utah.edu

Kate I. Minick, PhD, PT, DPT, OSC

Title:  Assistant Professor and Director of Research Quality for Rehabilitation Services, Intermountain Healthcare

Dr. Minick is the Director of Research and Quality for Rehabilitation Services at Intermountain Healthcare. Her research focuses on addressing the striking lack of implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines in rehabilitation. By improving clinical quality through care standardization and removing unwarranted variation in practice, her research aims to improve patient-centered outcomes and reduce costs.
         

Email:  kate.minick@imail.org

Shardool Patel, PharmD

Title:  Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Dr. Patel is a clinical pharmacist and investigator at VA Salt Lake City IDEAS Center. His research focuses on optimizing surgical transitions of care for Veterans. The recently implemented MISSION Act allows Veterans greater access to care outside the VA, but concurrent care within and outside the VA has shown increased risks of fragmented care, medication safety issues, and other negative outcomes.  His research will leverage informatics to phenotype postoperative courses, identify risk factors for fragmented care, and incorporate risk indicators into an existing point of care information display, which can then be used by clinical staff.

Email:  shardool.patel@utah.edu

Vikas Sharma, MD

Title:  Assistant Professor, Surgery

Dr. Sharma is the surgical lead for the surgical management of atrial fibrillation (AF) with a broader vision to establish University of Utah as a comprehensive AF center of excellence. This will include multidisciplinary, prospective research studies designed to contribute to the understanding of AF. His multi-disciplinary pilot project is aimed at providing initial data and a trend for the use of human amniotic membrane (AM) as a pericardial substitute to decrease post-operative AF, with future aims to procure NIH funding for a large-scale multi-institutional trial. He plans to explore use of AM in other post cardiac surgical morbidities, such as post-operative adhesions.

Email:  vikas.sharma@hsc.utah.edu

Brian Stagg, MD, MS

Title:  Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Dr. Stagg's goal is to improve outcomes for patients with glaucoma using predictive modeling, implementation science, and health informatics (clinical decision support). Glaucoma is a complex chronic disease that can cause irreversible vision loss. There is a lot of excitement about using predictive modeling (such as artificial intelligence) to help with diagnosis and decision making in glaucoma. His focus is on the next step—how to bring these predictions to the clinic to help the physician and patient make better decisions.

Email:  brian.stagg@hsc.utah.edu

Lisa Taylor-Swanson, PhD, MAcOM

Title:  Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Acupuncture is indicated by the American College of Physicians as a first-line treatment for chronic pain and Dr. Taylor-Swanson is conducting cutting-edge work to further potentiate effectiveness of acupuncture. Millions of people suffer from chronic pain, which results in disability, reduced quality of life, and great financial hardship. Further, people taking opioid medications are at risk for non-fatal and fatal overdose. Her work aims to develop a tailored acupuncture intervention that will be translated to acupuncture education and, eventually, to wide-scale implementation in large healthcare delivery systems. 

Email:  lisa.taylor-swanson@nurs.utah.edu