Many of the faculty at University of Utah Urology work with medical students, PhD students / post-doctorate fellows, residents, research fellows, and clinical fellows on important basic science, health services, and clinical outcomes research. There is opportunity for residents and fellows to gain experience in any aspect of research that interests them.
Additional opportunities can be made for motivated students and fellows to pursue Master’s of Science in Clinical Investigation as well as other educational opportunities.
Faculty Research Profiles
Kenneth I. Aston, PhD, HCLD
Dr. Ki Aston completed his Ph.D. at Utah State University in 2002, where he evaluated factors associated with somatic cell nuclear transfer efficiency and nuclear reprogramming. He was involved in bovine nuclear transfer and was part of the first group to successfully clone an equine species. Following his graduate training, Ki joined the Andrology and IVF team at the University of Utah as a Post Doctoral Fellow and later as a member of the faculty in the Division of Urology. His research team focuses on identifying genetic and epigenetic factors associated with male infertility. He is a lead investigator for the NIH-funded Genetics of Male Infertility Initiative (GEMINI), which will generate exome sequences on 1000 men with idiopathic nonobstructive azoospermia. He is also a founding member of the International Male Infertility Genomics Consortium (IMIGC), a group composed of physician scientists, geneticists, and molecular biologists with the common goal of characterizing the underlying causes of male infertility. Beyond the genetic studies, his lab is involved in several projects to define the normal sperm epigenome, to identify factors such as cigarette smoke exposure and advancing age that alter sperm epigenetic profiles and to characterize the impacts of altered sperm epigenetics on offspring phenotype. In addition to molecular studies in genetics and epigenetic, Dr. Aston is involved in an NIH-funded SBIR phase II project to develop a microfluidic device for rapid, automated sperm preparation prior to IUI.
Research Interests: Genetics and epigenetics of male infertility, Translational studies to identify novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for infertility care
Specialties: Andrology, In vitro fertilization, Genetics
Douglas T. Carrell, PhD, HCLD
Doug Carrell received his Ph.D. degree in reproductive physiology from the University of Utah in 1995, after receiving a M.S. degree in cellular and developmental biology from Brigham Young University. Dr. Carrell has worked in the area of research and treatment of human infertility for 35 years. Dr. Carrell is the clinical laboratory director of the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Andrology laboratories at the University of Utah, and also directs a number of post-doctoral fellows, Ph.D. graduate students, and research personnel. Dr. Carrell is an international leader in the field genetic aspects of male infertility and early embryogenesis. He has authored more than 225 research papers and book chapters, and has edited 8 medical books related to infertility. Dr. Carrell is a frequent invited speaker at national and international medical and research meetings, and is the Co Editor-in-Chief of Andrology. Dr. Carrell is the current president of the Society of Male Reproduction and Urology (SMRU) and is on the board of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Dr. Carrell is married and has 5 children. In his free time, Dr. Carrell is an avid marathoner, having completed more than 175 marathons throughout the world.
Specialties: Andrology, In-Vitro Fertilization, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
James Hotaling, MD, MS, FECSM
Dr. James Hotaling has been continuously funded by the NIH since starting that the University of Utah in 2013. He currently holds funding from the NIDDK and the NICHD.
He also has founded 3 start up companies, andro360, StreamDx and Nanonc. Andro360 holds a patent on a small bluetooth enabled penile tumescence ring which can facilitate real time rigidity measurements for men with ED. StreamDx has been funded with over $2M in seed funding, a Fasttrack PhaseI/II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) $1.7M grant and a Phase IIb SBIR for $2.9M which was just awarded. StreamDx has focused on commercializing a point of care home uroflow test which is now FDA approved and on the market. Nanonc, a microfluidic sperm sorting company, has received a Phase I NSF grant and a Phase I/II $1.7M SBIR grant to perform a clinical trial of the novel sperm sorting device.
Finally, he has worked to investigate the molecular underpinning of spermatogenesis in collaboration with Dr. Brad Cairns, chair of oncological sciences at Huntsman Cancer Institute, with the ultimate goal of understanding what is necessary to culture human spermatogonial stem cells. This work has resulted in a publication in Cell Stem Cell and Cell Research as well as several R01 grant submissions. Additionally, he has built a large database of infertility patients from the Utah Population Database (UPDB) called Subfertility Health Assisted Reproduction and the Environment (SHARE). This database examines the transgenerational impact of infertility through a linkage of 50,000 infertile patients to fertile controls and their relatives through pedigree data to create a database of 1.5M people to examine the familial impact of infertility.
Specialties: Andrology, Erectile Dysfunction, Male Infertility, Men's Health, Transgender Health, Transgender Surgery, Urology, Varicocelectomy, Vasectomy, Vasectomy Reversal
Will Lowrance, MD, MPH
William Lowrance, MD, MPH, is an associate professor in the Division of Urology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator. He specializes in the surgical treatment of urologic malignancies. His practice at the Huntsman Cancer Institute primarily focuses on treating prostate cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and penile cancer. He has extensive training and experience with open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgical techniques. His research efforts focus on understanding and improving clinical outcomes for patients with urologic cancers. Dr. Lowrance has published numerous peer-reviewed urologic articles, book chapters, and editorials. He is member of the American Urological Association’s Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinical Guidelines committee and serves on the editorial board for multiple medical journals. He peer reviews medical manuscripts for over 10 different medical journals. Additionally, he has received a National Institutes of Health Challenge grant for studying the differences between open and robotic radical prostatectomy.
Specialities: Urologic Oncology, Robotic Kidney Surgery, Robotic Cystectomy and Diversion, Robotic Prostatectomy
Jeremy Myers, MD
Dr. Myers’ research focuses on three aspects of benign urologic disease: neurogenic bladder, reconstructive surgery, and management of urologic trauma. He was primary investigator of a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) sponsored project entitled "Bladder Management and Spinal Cord Injury". In addition, also involving neurogenic bladder research, he is primary investigator of a recently funded Department of Defense grant entitled "Sacral Neuromodulation in Acute Spinal Cord Injury". These studies involve the Neurogenic Bladder Research Group (NBRG), started by Dr. Myers and several other investigators. NBRG is a large multi-institutional group focused upon patient reported outcomes and robust clinical studies. In addition, Dr. Myers is a founding member of the Trauma and Urologic Research Network of Surgeons (TURNS), another multi-institutional group of 13 centers in North America, studying reconstructive urology. His work in urologic trauma has involved the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST). He is the primary investigator for two prospective trials through the AAST, which involve greater than 20 level-1 trauma centers in the United States. These trials are focused on current management of renal and bladder trauma, as well as the outcomes of urethral realignment after pelvic fracture urethral injury. He is also active in two studies involving the Utah Population Database and familiality of urethral stricture disease and life course after radiation injury.
Dr. Myers’ research represents great opportunities for both fellows and residents to become familiar with clinical outcomes and health services research.
Research Interests: Bladder Fistula, Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities, General Urology, Genitourinary Trauma, Neurogenic Bladder, Radiation Injuries, Spina Bifida, Spinal Cord Diseases, Ureteral Diseases, Ureteral Obstruction, Urethral Stricture, Urinary Diversion, Urinary Incontinence, Urologic Reconstruction
Specialties: Bladder Augmentation, Complications of Spinal Cord Injury, Complications of Urologic Surgery, Kidney Autotransplant, Male Incontinence, Neurogenic Bladder, Pelvic Fractures and Urethral Injury, Radiation Injuries, Robotic Cystectomy and Diversion, Transgender Health, Transgender Surgery, Trauma and Reconstructive Urology, Ureteral Stricture, Urethral Stricture, Urinary Diversion, Urinary Strictures and Fistula, Urology, Vesicovaginal Fistula
Brock O'Neil, MD
Dr. O’Neil leads a robust health services research program in urologic oncology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the Surgical Population Analysis and Research Core. He is funded through the National Cancer Institute for 5 years on a multidisciplinary grant, which seeks to understand drivers of low-value cancer care. This offers investigation at the intersection of health system innovation, economics and policy. He is also funded on a multi-institution NCI grant that leverages patient reported outcomes to study the comparative effectiveness of various approaches to prostate cancer treatments.
Through these grants, and other projects, Dr. O’Neil has access to several big data resources including SEER-Medicare, Medicare, Utah Population Database (UPDB), and MarketScan. He uses these resources to study access and patterns of care, cancer disparities, novel payment models, and impacts of cancer policy. In addition, he collaborates closely with Dr. Heidi Hanson PhD who is a life course researcher, expert in large data methodologies to discover novel genes and environmental exposures in bladder and prostate cancer.
Dr. O’Neil regularly mentors residents and medical students who are interested in topics related to his ongoing studies. In addition, he helps mentees who need direction in executing research projects related to their own ideas to ensure successful academic experiences. He also serves as the primary mentor for a Research Fellowship in Urologic Oncology, which provides a dedicated 1-year research experience for medical students.
Specialties: Adrenal Cancer, Bladder Cancer, Blue Light Cystoscopy With Cysview, Cystectomy, Genetic Counselor, Kidney Cancer, Laparoscopy, Penile Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Robotic Cystectomy and Diversion, Robotic Kidney Surgery, Robotic Prostatectomy, Testicular Cancer, Urinary Diversion, Urologic Oncology, Urology
Anthony J. Schaeffer, MD
Dr. Schaeffer is a Health Services Researcher in the Division of Pediatric Urology at the University of Utah. Health Services Research focuses on the access to and the cost, quality, efficacy, delivery, outcomes, and value of health care services. Within this context, Dr. Schaeffer’s research focus is on improving the delivery and cost of pediatric urology care and studying the outcomes of congenital and acquired conditions affecting the developing genitourinary tract.
One of the Schaeffer Lab’s focuses is on hydronephrosis. Hydronephrosis, or swelling of the kidney, is one of the most common abnormalities identified during routine prenatal ultrasound screening. The lab has identified the Utah Cohort of Postnatally persistent Antenatal Hydronephrosis (U-COPAH), which is a large group of children with this condition who have 2 or more years of follow-up. We are using this group to better understand the evolution of mild, moderate, and severe hydronephrosis, thus helping to clarify the risk factors for progression of the disease. This work will also determine how and when to use radiologic testing to monitor this disease. The long-term goal is to create an evidence-based algorithm that will standardize the timing of radiological studies tailored to each hydronephrosis grade.
The Schaeffer Research Lab also collaborates with Surgical Population Analysis and Research Core to study the outcomes of patients with severe congenital urological birth defects including spina bifida, posterior urethral valves, bladder exstrophy, and prune belly syndrome. We are using the Utah Population Database to study 1) the mortality and morbidity of these conditions, with a particular focus on long-term kidney function, urinary stone disease, and genitourinary cancers, 2) the longevity of complex surgical reconstructions, and 3) the hand-off of care of these complex and unique conditions from pediatric to adult urologists. This work has amazing potential to help us understand how the treatment for these conditions could be improved.
A final focus of the Schaeffer Lab is on patient-centered outcomes research in pediatric urology. Specifically, we are interested in better understanding the experiences of children with urinary incontinence by using in-depth interviews and qualitative analysis techniques. Dr. Schaeffer is also the lead of the Societies for Pediatric Urology Bladder Exstrophy Task Force. He is assembling a group of patients and physicians to generate a collaborative group of bladder exstrophy clinicians, researchers, and patients to focus on prioritizing patient centered outcomes research for this rare congenital condition.
Research Interests: Bladder, Neurogenic, Bladder Augmentation, Bladder Calculi, Bladder Exstrophy, Hypospadias, Incontinence, Cost Allocation, Cost-Effectiveness, Delivery of Health Care, Health Care Quality, Access, and Evaluation, Development of the Constructs of the Perceived Quality of Life (PQOL) Measurement Instrument, Renal and Ureteral Calculi, Spina Bifida, Prune Belly Syndrome, Health Services Research / Patient-centered Outcomes Research