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Four Biomedical Informatics Faculty Receive National Awards and Recognition

SALT LAKE CITY—Four faculty members of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Utah School of Medicine have received national honors for their contributions to the field of informatics.

R. Scott Evans, Ph.D., professor of biomedical informatics, has been given the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Donald A.B. Lindberg Award for innovation in informatics. Evans studies computerized decision support and the selection and management of anti-infective agents and computer methods to produce clinical tools that help reduce adverse drug events, adverse medical device events, and blood clot formation. He also uses computerized methods to identify patients who need isolation, reduce hospital-acquired infections, and report diseases that must be reported to public agencies.

“The Lindberg Award is the highest honor for individual research that is given in our field,” said Joyce A. Mitchell, Ph.D., professor and chair of biomedical informatics. “Scott Evans is an international leader and well-known for his decades of groundbreaking research.”
Per Gesteland, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and adjunct assistant professor of biomedical informatics, received the Homer R. Warner Award from AMIA. Gesteland received the award for a paper he submitted to the AMIA annual symposium. The paper describes approaches to improving computerized information acquisition, knowledge data acquisition and management, and experimental results documenting the values of these approaches. A number of these computerized tools are clinically operational at 22 hospitals in Utah. Evans is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI).

Gesteland wrote the paper with colleagues who also are adjunct faculty in biomedical informatics. “Per Gesteland and his colleagues have been doing visionary work in public health informatics,” Mitchell said.

Homer R. Warner, M.D., is a former U of U physician-researcher who is one of the fathers of medical informatics. He founded and was first chair of the U Department of Biomedical Informatics, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and past president of the American College of Informatics.

Two other faculty members, Charlene Weir, Ph.D., research associate professor of biomedical informatics, and Qing T. Zeng, Ph.D, associate professor of biomedical informatics, were inducted as fellows into the American College of Medical Informatics at the organization’s annual reception and dinner in October. The two, who were among 21 fellows elected nationally this year, have conducted nationally significant research for more than a decade, according to Mitchell.