ARUP Laboratories’ CEO Ashwood

Dec. 1, 2010

I grew up on a ranch, so there is just something about the peace and quiet of nature, and it is always nice to get away from the busyness of everyday life.

Edward Ashwood, MD


President/CEO, ARUP Laboratories,
Salt Lake City, UT.
Professor of Pathology, Department of Pathology,
University of Utah School of Medicine.
ARUP Laboratories: president/CEO since July 2009;
director of laboratories (chief medical officer), 2002-2009;
medical director of various departments at ARUP Laboratories,


BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1975;
MD, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1979;
clinical pathology residency, Department Laboratory Medicine,
University of Washington-Seattle.


I am passionate about laboratory medicine,
whether in the lab, the classroom,
or through my professional editing duties.
My wife and I like to fly fish,
and we enjoy the outdoors with our dogs.
We appreciate and enjoy the Utah Symphony and Opera,
and I have been a trustee for several years.

Followed dad into the lab. As a preteen, I would accompany my father — a medical technologist — to the microbiology laboratory on weekends where I learned to process throat cultures, prepare media, and, of course, wash test tubes. Years later, I found my focus during my clinical pathology residency when I was seeking a good research area. The laboratory staff held an “election” each year for their most-favorite and least-favorite lab test. The fetal-lung-maturity test, lecithin-sphingomyelin ratio, had won the least-favorite category three years in a row. Maybe it was just that I was pulling for the underdog or my belief that all the work we do in the lab is critical, but I decided to concentrate my research in that area. I have continued my efforts with fetal and pediatric laboratory medicine ever since.

Evolution of lab medicine. I joined ARUP 18 months after its founding in 1984, where I have witnessed the evolution of laboratory technology (e.g., mass spectrometry, PCR, DNA sequencing). ARUP now offers more than 3,000 tests and test combinations, a far cry from the 600 we offered more than 25 years ago. The role of the laboratory is evolving in delivering healthcare; we play a more integral role in patient diagnosis and treatment, and physician support. Laboratory professionals of the 21st century will play an active role as diagnosticians. Quickly reported results will facilitate decision-making support. The days of merely receiving specimens, running tests, and providing results are passing. The results we provide are powerful clinical information. The direction we are heading is to provide real-time diagnostic support.

Cool tools improve quality of patient care. The lab of the 21st century uses the wealth of data from testing to provide feedback to primary-care physicians, specialists, and other medical professionals, such as ARUP’s ATOP, or Analyzing Test Ordering Patterns, which is a post-analytic tool to evaluate utilization. ARUP Consult is a free Web-based, mobile (app) diagnostic support tool — a sort of physician’s cheat sheet — that provides clinicians information on diseases, up-to-date test-related information, and algorithms to help diagnose conditions that many doctors do not deal with daily.

Education leads to discovery. Education is a major part of the fabric of our company’s culture. We feel so strongly about education that it is one of the five pillars that support and guide our work at ARUP Laboratories. Besides education in a classroom setting, we believe in educating ourselves, our clients, and the community. Whether it is learning new lab techniques, new disease discoveries, or how to be more effective leaders, we encourage our team to constantly improve. In addition, we support those who wish to further their education by offering flexible schedules and generous tuition reimbursement. We have partnerships with universities in the area that offer clinical lab science programs: the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and Weber State University (WSU). We also offer our clients access to WSU’s distance-learning program so their laboratorians can further their education without leaving the lab.

Field trips for future laboratorians. While we have been fortunate to keep growing and hiring young, well-trained lab professionals, we have certainly not been immune to the shortage of and departure of laboratorians in the industry. Probably the best way to get more young people into the field is to make them aware at a young age. In our visits to classrooms and campuses, we have found that many young people simply do not know that lab medicine is an option; exposing them to the field through class and campus visits has had good results.