Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Intermountain Health receives nearly $52 million for research on ARDS treatment

 Intermountain Medical Center sign.
Wikimedia Commons

Intermountain Health is one of six health systems in the nation to receive a federal grant of nearly $52 million for researching new treatments for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia and sepsis. Much of the grant will go towards using advanced technologies, such as AI.

At an Intermountain Health press conference this month, Samuel Brown, vice president for research and research professor, said COVID is a well-known form of ARDS, acute respiratory distress syndrome. So far with COVID-19, there have been treatments available, but in other forms of ARDS, there haven’t been any specific treatments other than ventilators. Brown said through the dull pandemic, there was a “glimmer of hope.”

“And that got us as a community thinking much more carefully about the possibility that we'd actually been treating a lot of different things as if they were just one thing,” Brown said. “But fundamentally, what we're saying is to gather careful information about what will be a total of 5,000 people representative of the American people across the country, and then understand what's happening to them, and what happens to them after the illness. “

This will help identify subtypes of these syndromes resulting in specific treatments for people.

This research will be conducted by inviting patients to participate in this national patient cohort. With a background check of the patient's medical condition, researchers will gather samples of either blood, saliva or feces to see how the bacteria that live inside are affected by and affect the syndromes. Regular checkups to observe the patient’s recovery will follow.

Brown explained how the identification of patient subtypes that are not immediately observed by experts in the field will be found with the help of AI.

“If you pull back the hype, artificial intelligence is really computer systems and algorithms that help you identify patterns that you otherwise wouldn't," Brown said. "So one of the core features of what we'll be doing in this consortium is, in fact, using AI machine learning to take the hundreds and thousands of variables associated with each individual. And try to summarize those thousands of variables into discrete groups or subtypes.”

Brown expressed gratitude for the grant and how Intermountain Health will use it to improve conditions found in critical patients.

“Intermountain is a growing family that now extends well outside Utah. It's a testament to the power of this legacy that we now are able to continue to lead the national scientific investigations and coordinated planning around these areas.” Brown said.

Hannah Castro is a junior at Utah State University studying Journalism and Public relations. Her parents were born and raised in Ecuador and migrated to the States before she was born. Hannah loves all things music and usually has a concert lined up. She enjoys being active, and recently ran her first half marathon in Salt Lake City. Hannah enjoys writing and can’t wait to further her skills at Utah Public Radio.