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Research Highlight: College of Health

The College of Health is among the largest of the colleges and schools at the University of Utah with 2500 undergraduate students, and 600 graduate students. The college offers 18 BA/BS degree emphases, 16 master’s degree programs, three clinical doctorates, and five PhD programs. This combination of graduate degrees, professional programs, and undergraduate majors uniquely positions the College of Health to contribute to the clinical and research missions of the University and state communities by implementing cutting-edge, high impact educational practices on campus.  


Julie Fritz, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health, shared a little bit about the current research mission of the College of Health, and what the future of the college holds.  

1. What is your vision as Associate Dean for Research for the College of Health?  

The Vision for Research within the College of Health is aligned with the overall Vision for the College, which is to lead the complex shift in health care– from primarily caring for the sick, to keeping people healthy, fit, and resilient. My role as the Associate Dean for Research is to assist the faculty in the College of Health to advance the creation and dissemination of new knowledge to advance this Vision. 


2. How has the research scope of the College of Health changed or expanded during its time at the University of Utah?  

The research scope in the College of Health has expanded as the national emphasis on health and well-being has grown. Researchers in the College of Health are expanding their research portfolios as interest has grown in the science of improving health through lifestyle change including nutrition, physical activity, access to natural environments, stress reduction and other non-pharmacologic strategies.   


3. How has University of Utah research funding helped your college fuel it’s research vision?  

The support from the University of Utah has been invaluable in advancing the research vision for the College of Health.  Support has included financial resources as well as access to core services and efforts to facilitate collaborations across campus and within the Health Sciences.  


4. What does your college hope to accomplish in future research?  

We are continuing to strive to advance our Vision and positively impact the lives of people and patients in our community by advancing the science of helping keep people fit, healthy and resilient. Researchers in the College of Health are involved in several large initiatives that are grounded in this Vision and are having a positive impact. These include investigating strategies to provide non-pharmacologic alternative for pain management, enhancing the lives and well-being of individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetic metabolic disease, building resilience for individuals and caregivers of those with chronic disease, and facilitating healthy behavior changes around nutrition and physical activity. 


5. What does your college need to enhance/advance research within the college? 

Research in the College of Health is fueled by collaboration. Our research is enhanced anytime barriers to collaboration are lowered. Sometimes these barriers come in the form of financial limitations and sometimes they come as access to necessary resources and infrastructure. At times we impose these barriers on ourselves by not seeking out collaboration or finding ways to be good collaborators with our colleagues across campus. 


6. As One University, we constantly search for collaborative opportunities among colleges to bring the unexpected to life. What kind of opportunities do you have for cross-college collaboration?   

Lifestyle and behavior change are topics that cut across numerous disciplines and can benefit from diverse perspectives. Clinical disciplines within the College of Health (Physical Therapy, Occupational and Recreational Therapy, Nutrition, Speech Language Pathology, and Kinesiology,) have a good bit of untapped potential with clinical colleagues in University Health. 


You can learn more about degree programs and research opportunities offered by the College of Health by visiting their website. You can also stay up-to-date with current College of Health events by following them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, or by browsing their calendar 

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Last Updated: 4/13/21