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University of Utah researcher named to National Academy of Medicine

By Ben Lockhart, KSL  |  Posted Oct 21st, 2017 @ 2:43pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah Health biomedical informatics researcher was named to the National Academy of Medicine this week.

Wendy Chapman, who chairs the Department of Biomedical Informatics at the U., was elected as one of 80 members comprising the 2017 class of the academy.

Chapman is one of just five members of University of Utah Health ever to be elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

The others are former CEO Vivian Lee, who was also dean of the medical school and senior vice president of Health Sciences at the U.; Nobel laureate and genetics professor Mario Capecchi; biology professor Baldomero Olivera; and Sun Wan Kim, pharmaceuticals professor and Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator.

“When you do your research, it feels small. It’s only after time passes that you can start to see that what you did made a difference,” Chapman said in a statement. “I’m extremely honored to be recognized by my peers in this way.”

University of Utah Health science writer Julie Kiefer lauded Chapman's pioneering work in biomedical informatics — a technological field involving the designing of information systems to process and mine data.

Kiefer said in a release that Chapman is "most noted for developing informatics algorithms and tools for natural language processing (NLP), a means of using computational power to pull data from doctor's notes and health records that are otherwise hidden from automated analyses."

"For instance, finding the word 'pneumonia' in a record does not necessarily mean the patient was diagnosed with the illness," Kiefer said. "Chapman’s algorithms put these terms into context by determining if the patient had no pneumonia, a history of pneumonia, or perhaps was at risk. Such information can be applied to decision support tools, identifying cohorts for research studies, and optimizing processes such as billing."

The National Academy of Medicine, a nonprofit comprised of medical experts from around the country, is one component of the larger National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine created by Congress during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

The National Academy of Medicine lends its expertise to a wide range of issues, including public health, advancing medical technology and the well-being of health care professionals.

Dr. Lorris Betz, interim senior vice president for University of Utah Health Sciences, praised Chapman as "a thoughtful colleague."

"The honor is a testament to her dedication and contribution to research and science," Betz said in a statement.

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com Twitter: @benlockhartnews

Ben Lockhart, KSL
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