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Five Best of State Winners Named from University of Utah

June 20, 2003 — Five winners from the University of Utah will receive Utah Best of State 2003 awards at a gala to be held tomorrow evening, Saturday, June 21, at the South Towne Expo Center.

Utah Best of State Awards, which organizers hope to present annually, acknowledge excellence in 11 industry sectors, including entertainment, enterprise, education, retail, services and sports. Winners of the awards, sponsored by a variety of media organizations and businesses, are rated and judged on innovation, originality, excellence in their field and their impact on the community.

In the education category, University Art Professor Robert S. Olpin has been named the best college/university teacher and recent U graduate and Rhodes Scholar Gretchen Domek has been named the best college/university student. In the area of science and technology, world-renowned geneticist Mario Capecchi, co-chair of the University’s Department of Human Genetics, has been named best for medical innovation. The Associated Regional & University Pathologists, Inc. (ARUP Laboratories) was named best analytical laboratory in the science and technology category. The University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics was named best in health care services.

“Best of State is dedicated to recognizing Utah’s outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses who have enhanced the quality of life, enriched the culture, economy and reputation of Utah through exceptional services, products and accomplishments,” notes Dana Layton, Best of State CEO. “Our intention is that by recognizing excellence we encourage it and help raise the bar statewide.”

Robert S. Olpin has been a professor of art history at the University of Utah for the last 36 years and is former dean of the College of Fine Arts. He served as the chair of the U’s Department of Art and as consulting curator of American Art for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. He currently is a member of the Utah Arts Council and has served on the boards of Pioneer Theatre Company and the Salt Lake Art Center. He is the author of Dictionary of Utah Art; Utah Art; Waldo Midgey: Birds, Animals, People Things; A Basket of Chips: An Autobiography by James Taylor Harwood; and co-author of Artists of Utah and Utah Painting and Sculpture.

Gretchen Domek graduated from the University in May with an Honors degree in biochemistry. While at the University she participated on the cross-country ski team for two years, served on the Honors Student Advisory Committee, conducted biochemistry research and volunteered for the Newman Center, the Future Problem Solving Program, the American Cancer Society and the Leukemia Society. She also spent a summer in Ecuador, studying medical Spanish and the Ecuadorian health care system and volunteering in two medical clinics. Domek has distinguished herself most recently by being selected as one of 32 Americans chosen as a 2003 Oxford University Rhodes Scholar.

Mario R. Capecchi, co-chair of the University of Utah Department of Human Genetics, earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1967. During his 30 years at the University of Utah, he has gained worldwide renown for his pioneering research and as a developer of “gene targeting.” The method often tells scientists a gene’s normal function by revealing whether something goes wrong when it is “knocked out,” or rendered inoperative. Capecchi has received numerous awards for his role in developing gene targeting, including the highest scientific honors in the United States, Japan and Israel. In 2001, President George W. Bush awarded him a National Medal of Science. The same year, Capecchi and two other scientists won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

ARUP Laboratories, located in Research Park, was created in 1984 by the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah to support its academic mission and commitment to education. ARUP initially served as a central “cluster laboratory” for community hospitals, progressed to a regional reference laboratory, then became a major national reference laboratory with the capability of performing routine to highly specialized esoteric testing. ARUP provides all laboratory services for the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics, including phlebotomy and support services. ARUP also maintains comprehensive transfusion services at the University of Utah Hospital, Primary Children’s Medical Center and Shriner’s Hospital.

The University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics represents the clinical arm of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center (UUHSC), an organization that brings together the education, research and patient care programs of the University. With a reputation for providing high quality, life saving medical care, University Hospitals & Clinics serves the more than five million residents of the intermountain west through its centers, which, among others, include Huntsman Cancer Institute and Eccles Critical Care Pavilion. Since the construction of the first University Hospital in 1964, the University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics has served the medical needs of millions of Utahns. For nine years US News & World Report has listed University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics in America’s top 100 hospitals.