Get to know the Infectious Disease Faculty
Andrew Pavia, MD
Title: Division Chief
Hometown: New York City, back in the gritty, not so good old days. Still it was a vibrant multiracial, multiclass, multicultural place to grow up.
Undergrad: Brown University
Medical school: Brown University
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: I have always been interested in emerging infections and epidemics, dating back to middle school. I have been lucky enough to follow that passion beginning with STEC infections while at CDC, HIV in the 90’s, Hantavirus, Zika and more. My work now focuses on influenza, diarrheal disease, pandemic preparedness, and like all of us, SARS-CoV-2.
Hobbies/interests outside of work: Skiing of any sort but especially backcountry, mountain biking, road biking, hiking, travel, and trying to convince my wife and our cattle dog that I am as smart as they are.
Career before medicine: Nope. I did consider getting a doctorate in English Literature at one point
Why did you come to Utah? I first came to Utah as an EIS officer for CDC to investigate one of the early outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7. When CDC had a posting for a medical epidemiologist to come to Utah, we jumped at it, expecting to spend some time hiking, skiing, kayaking and backpacking before heading back East. Then we came to our senses.
What is your favorite thing about our Division? Hard to narrow it down – it is such a great diverse group. I love the passion for our patients, for teaching and research, and the creativity, I think we work really well together to respond to challenges, to innovate and to support each other.
What's your favorite part about living in Salt Lake City? It is amazing to have a vibrant city with good restaurants, lots of culture and have the mountains coming right into the city. Even when I am not able to play in the mountains, they are a constant presence. Where else could you ski a couple of laps in the morning, get in a quick bike ride, then go to work at a world class academic medical center in the afternoon.
What cool research/advocacy/education/scholarly work are you participating in? There are lots. We are doing a large cluster sampled SARS-CoV-2 serosurveillance and risk factor survey, working (with Daniel Leung’s team) on predictive models for diarheal disease in the US and low and middle income countries, and preparing to start a multicenter trial of hyperhydration to decrease complications of STEC infections.
What is your favorite part of your job? Helping our fellows and junior faculty develop as clinicians, teaches and researchers is the best part by far. Budget meetings are the worst.
What is something you didn't know before coming to Utah that you wish you did? In the early days, Utah had communities that essentially functioned as communes (Mormon kibbutzes, if you will), as part of what was called the United Order.
Anne J. Blaschke, MD
Hometown: Palo Alto, California (I grew up on the Stanford Campus- when I lived in Palo Alto, a very long time ago, no one really knew where it was!)
Undergrad: Brown University
Medical school: University of California, San Diego
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: My main academic focus is in new diagnostics development. I worked closely with a biotechnology start-up when I first joined the faculty and learned a lot about what it takes to develop a new test. More recently my research is focused on understanding bacterial virulence and why certain pathogens are able to cause so many different types of disease. My clinical interests mirror my research into bacterial disease. I particularly like to take care of patients with invasive bacterial infections – a clear problem, a real pathogen and effective therapy that makes them better. Very satisfying.
Hobbies/interests outside of work: I used to be a pretty good distance runner, with ½ marathon as my specialty. I still run now, but not as fast, although I can sometimes place in my age group if I work hard. I like to cook and I try to make dinner for my family most nights – next year my 2 oldest children will be going to college, so I will have to learn how to cook in smaller volumes. I tried to learn to knit, but was not successful. I am pretty good at elementary-school level crafts!
Career before medicine: No pre-medicine career – I never even considered anything else. I did do a PhD in neurosciences, though.
Why did you come to Utah? My husband and I couples-matched for Pediatrics Residency in Utah. We thought it would be a great place to spend 3 years, then move on. Now it has been 20 years and we are still here, so I think we are officially “Utahns”.
What is your favorite thing about our Division? Our Division is a close-knit family. Everyone is kind and caring and helps each other out. We enjoy spending time with each other and know what is happening in each other’s lives. We are very collaborative in terms of research and work together well. If there is a clinical question on service, it is easy to reach out to anyone in the Division to get advice.
What's your favorite part about living in Salt Lake City? I love that Salt Lake has everything I would want from a city, and it is all within 10-20 minutes of my house. The Botanical Garden and Natural History Museum are both just steps from our offices, and on my morning run I pass by the zoo. I have tickets to the Broadway Theater and can leave my house 20 minutes before my show starts if I want. In addition to these city activities, there is hiking and mountain biking 5 minutes away and skiing within 30 minutes. On weekends we can go to any one of several National Park by driving 3-4 hours. I always tell people that the worst thing about coming to Salt Lake City for residency or fellowship is that it is so hard to move away!
What cool research/advocacy/education/scholarly work are you participating in? For the last several years my laboratory has been working in the area of comparative bacterial genomics. This involves next generation sequencing and complex bioinformatics, both areas in which I had no expertise when we started. In 2016 I took a 6-month sabbatical to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England to work with a group of experts in pneumococcal genomics. Since then I have had the privilege to work with bioinformatics experts at Utah who have helped move my projects forward. In addition, both a junior faculty member and an ID fellow working in my lab have become extremely facile with bioinformatics tools and they teach me something new every time we meet.
What is your favorite part of your job? I really like interacting with residents, fellows and junior faculty. As the Program Director for the ID Fellowship Program I meet with fellows on a regular basis to find out how things are going and to review their progress in the program. In my lab I mentor junior faculty, fellows, medical students and undergraduates. On the University-level I act as a mentor to junior faculty pursuing research careers. It is very rewarding to be able to help those who are just starting their careers find the path that will be most fulfilling.
What is something you didn't know before coming to Utah that you wish you did? My grandparents lived in Denver, Colorado and so I always thought of the Rocky Mountains as THE mountains of the west and Denver as the city you would want to move to if you wanted to live in the mountains. When my husband and I first visited Salt Lake City during our residency interview we were surprised to see that the mountain foothills are just outside the hospital!
Adam Hersh, MD
Hometown: Amherst, MA
Undergrad: Middlebury College
Medical school: Dartmouth Medical School
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: Clinical Epidemiology, Antibiotic Stewardship
Hobbies/interests outside of work: Sports, Family
Career before medicine: None
Why did you come to Utah? Superb ID Division and the children’s hospital is on the campus of a major university in a family friendly city
What is your favorite thing about our Division? Collaborative team approach, lots of laughter, people care about each other
What's your favorite part about living in Salt Lake City? Ability to live close to both work and play
What cool research/advocacy/education/scholarly work are you participating in? Antibiotic stewardship in outpatient settings, antibiotic allergy de-labeling
What is your favorite part of your job? My colleagues, working in teamsWhat is something you didn't know before coming to Utah that you wish you did? That it can be hot in the summer and my bald head gets sunburned easily.
Beth Doby Knackstedt, MD
Hometown: A small town in the foothills of North Carolina
Undergrad: Wake Forest University (Go Deacs!)
Medical school: Emory University School of Medicine
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: Caring for children with HIV is what drew me to peds ID (along with the amazing folks it seems to attract). This interest naturally morphed into transplant/immunocompromised ID. Maybe a little unusual for many peds ID folks, I LOVE outpatient clinic.
Hobbies/interests outside of work: Anything outside- hiking, camping, backpacking, backcountry Nordic skiing, yurt trips, etc.
Career before medicine: If only I had been that cool or interesting. I did work at a day center for elderly people with dementia or other memory challenges during college and that’s what drew me to medicine.
Why did you come to Utah? I came to Utah for pediatrics residency in 2006. After a lifetime of living in the South, I was feeling restless to experience a different part of the country and the West spoke to me. Within the University of Utah Dept. of Pediatrics and Primary Children’s Hospital, I found an unusual combination of incredibly kind, well-rounded, outdoor-loving, intelligent and driven people who love caring for children.
What is your favorite thing about our Division? I love that we readily ask each other questions and for help with challenging patients
What's your favorite part about living in Salt Lake City? Proximity to amazing nature, 4 incredible seasons, lack of humidity, sunshine, and kind people
What cool research/advocacy/education/scholarly work are you participating in? I recently started a new position within the school of medicine as the “Infectious Diseases Domain Expert” which means I help coordinate and participate in ID-related education across the medical school continuum—I just started, but I’m super excited. I am site PI for several international consortium studies involving infections in immunocompromised children.
What is your favorite part of your job? The kids, the people with whom I work, and the variety!
What is something you didn't know before coming to Utah that you wish you did? You can’t find reasonable grits in the grocery store. Related, you cannot buy wine in the grocery store either. Both are very unfortunate.
Russell J. Osguthorpe, MD
Hometown: Pleasant Grove Utah
Medical school: McGill University
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: Administration of pediatric subspecialty services in a community hospital and developing models of care that allow for sustainable, high quality pediatric inpatient medical care at distance from a large tertiary care children’s hospital
Hobbies/interests outside of work: fly fishing, and golfing with family
Why did you come to Utah? Utah is home. I grew up here and have enjoyed returning to extended family and raising my family close to grandparents.
What is your favorite thing about our Division? This group of ID physicians is highly collaborative, supportive and professional. I have fully enjoyed being a part of this group due to their commitment to excellent clinical care, antibiotic stewardship and public health.
What's your favorite part about living in Salt Lake City? The mountains and canyons of Utah
What cool research/advocacy/education/scholarly work are you participating in? I am currently involved in building a 60 bed community hospital in Northern Somaliland. The work has been challenging and rewarding. This area has some of the highest measured rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world. The hospital will service a population of over 600,000.
What is your favorite part of your job? The Bedside. I love caring for patients with complex medical disease and truly taking the time to solve medical issues and explain them in a manner the family can understand.
What is something you didn't know before coming to Utah that you wish you did? That Mountain Biking is an amazing way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Sonia Mehra, MD
Hometown: Chandigarh, India, it is a pretty cool and well-planned city in Northern India
Medical school: Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana India
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: Transplant Infectious diseases and Tropical Medicine
Hobbies/interests outside of work: I like lounging on the couch and watching forensic thrillers when not working. There is always fun stuff to do when you live a few miles from the greatest outdoors
Career before medicine: None. If you know Indian parents you will understand.
Why did you come to Utah? My husband and I moved to Utah together to do our fellowships and ended up staying here.
What is your favorite thing about our Division? Very supportive division and people genuinely care for each other.
What's your favorite part about living in Salt Lake City? Living in Salt Lake reminds me of my home town back in India and I feel like ‘home’ away from ‘home’. Proximity to several national parks is an added bonus.
What cool research/advocacy/education/scholarly work are you participating in? I work very closely with HSCT as well as SOT teams to develop protocols to streamline the care of immune-compromised patients across different groups. I love teaching residents and fellows about immune-compromised ID when on clinical service. I recently got involved in a national vaccine consortium study on MMR/varicella vaccine in liver transplant patients and also working on several projects locally on immune-compromised hosts.
What is your favorite part of your job? I love working with children and their families. When you get to do it with people you like, it makes work more fun.What is something you didn't know before coming to Utah that you wish you did? Sunday shopping can be tricky as most of the stores are closed on Sundays. Summers can be hot and dry though I should not complain as I grew up in hot summers
Whitney Y. Hugie APRN, DNP-FNP
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Undergrad: Utah State University (pre-nursing). Southern Utah University (nursing school)
Nurse Practitioner School: University of Washington
Career interests/interests within pediatric infectious diseases: Pediatric infectious disease, pediatric and adult hematology/oncology, stem cell transplant, and global health.
Hobbies/interests outside of work: Running, hiking, camping, and going on adventures with my pup
Career before medicine: Registered nurse on the immunocompromised services unit (ICS) at Primary Children’s Hospital. Clinical nurse coordinator at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Lecturer and Lab Instructor at Pacific Lutheran University.