Research Consortium Formed to Address Utah’s Behavioral Health Needs

Representatives from Noorda-COM, Brigham Young University, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Utah Valley University, and Roseman University recently came together to form a new research consortium.

At a meeting held on September 25th, and hosted by Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, the group began the work of forming the Utah Behavioral Health Research Consortium.  Mayor Kaufusi set the tone for the meeting by stating that “mental illness is significant and impacts so many people. This topic is near and dear to me because I see how it affects the citizens of Provo and I will do everything I can to support the Consortium’s work.”

The Consortium goals are to substantively advance the basic and clinical science related to behavioral health in the State of Utah with particular emphasis on reducing addiction, depression, and anxiety. The institutions met to discuss and work toward formalizing research relationships. Discussions included data-sharing, reciprocal faculty appointments, space sharing, inter-institutional student training programs, undergraduate and graduate training fellowships, and resource sharing.

“We seek to formalize ties between interested regional research institutions to leverage thought, equipment, space, and resources to accomplish the Consortium’s research aims,” said Dr. Kyle Bills, Noorda-COM’s Associate Dean of Research who is spearheading the formation of the group.  “Additionally, we seek to work closely with philanthropically-minded private sector partners to expand the reach and impact of scientific advances.”

For more information about the Utah Behavioral Health Research Consortium, please contact Dr. Bills at kbbills@noordacom.org or at 801-380-6181.

Dr. Bills presenting at the Research Consortium

 

In late August, Noorda-COM and Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions received $42.8 million to help create infrastructure for the new Medical Education and Research Campus (MERC).  The funding was the first in Utah since the Utah Legislature passed Senate Bill 228 to allow the formation of a Public Infrastructure District (PID) to finance new development and redevelopment projects across the state.

The funding will be used to start infrastructure projects on the expanded campus site such as roads, sewer, and electrical installation.   “The development of the MERC will have a profound and positive impact on Utah County and the entire state and region,” said Dr. Richard Nielsen.  “We are honored to be the first recipients of this funding in the State of Utah and believe it is a testament to our past success and our future promise to all Utahns.”

The bond issuance and the ability to begin infrastructure on the campus is important to recruiting students and faculty as well as in building awareness with the communities of Utah.  “The medical school’s goal is to attract the highest caliber students, including those local students who want to stay in Utah for their medical education,” said Dr. John Dougherty.

This funding represents a true collaborative effort which was led by Noorda-COM board member John Nemelka and which was orchestrated by D.A. Davidson & Company’s Special District Group and supported by Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, the city administration, and the Provo City Municipal Council.

Earlier this summer, Noorda-COM received approval from the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) to begin recruiting students for its inaugural class of medical students.

This is the next major step toward pre-accreditation status for Noorda-COM and came after the Association’s June meeting and a two-year application process.  To date, more than 1,300 applications have been received since Noorda-COM began the admissions process in August.  The first class will be comprised of 90 students when instruction begins next fall.  It is anticipated Noorda-COM could receive between 3,500 to 5,000 applications for the 90 available seats.

“We believe applicants want to come to Noorda-COM because we will be student-centered in fact, not just in words only,” said Casey Himmelsbach, Associate Dean of Student Affairs.  Noorda-COM is also committed to being a school of first choice for students from Utah.  “We don’t want students to choose Noorda-COM because it’s local, because it’s convenient, or because it’s in Utah County, said Noorda-COM founding President Dr. Richard Nielsen.  “We anticipate they’re going to want to make us their first choice because it will be the best medical school option available.”

The next step will be reviewing these applications and inviting prospective students to complete a secondary application and then participate in virtual interviews.  “We want to identify a group of students who are creative and innovative and who will help address the healthcare shortages we are experiencing in the state,” said Dr. John Dougherty, Founding Dean.

 

President’s Message

Dr. Richard Nielsen's headshot, Founding President and CEO of Noorda-COM

This fall has brought with it much excitement.  As you read this issue of the Noorda-COM Navigator, you will see we have much to celebrate.  We are actively recruiting our first class of students and are seeing great interest in joining the Noorda-COM family from prospective students and employees.  We also received substantial Public Infrastructure District (PID) funding to start infrastructure construction for campus expansion, and have established wonderful partnerships with local medical centers.

However, I also know that this past summer and fall have brought challenges and concerns.  There is no doubt that we are seeing the continued and recurring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has resulted in campus closures and issues related to our construction timelines.

I want to reassure you that things are progressing, and we continue to move forward with our planning for the start of our academic program next August and for the expansion of the campus to the new facilities at the Medical Education and Research Campus.  These are indeed exciting times for Noorda-COM and we will continue to transparently keep you apprised of developments as they happen.

Onward!

Dr. Richard P. Nielsen
Founding President and CEO