The Central Laboratory’s Leadership team has one singular focus, to provide the perfect patient and customer experience. The leadership team of medical directors, managers and supervisors ensure that only the best clinical and operational practices are employed in the service of our communities throughout the Utah and Idaho region.

Innovation and unconventional thinking enables the Central Laboratory to create systems and processes that help our physicians not only best serve their patients, but to continuously improve patient care. Our commitment is patient-centric and perfection driven.

From left: Dr Sterling Bennett, Thomas Tsai, TJ Smith, Debra Zern, Kim Sanderson, Karen Brownell, Susan Elmer


Eric Liston, Chief Operations Officer

Eric Liston is the Chief Operations Officer/COO for the Central Laboratory at Intermountain Healthcare. In this role he is responsible for overall strategic, operational and financial leadership of the Central Lab. He has worked in healthcare for over twelve years with roles in patient account services, surgical services, supply chain and revenue integrity. Eric has demonstrated success in process improvement, problem solving and fulfilling Intermountain's Dimensions of Care. 

Eric holds a Master's degree in management with an emphasis in health service administration. Eric is married with three children. His hobbies include playing with his kids, traveling and cycling. 

TJ Smith, Anatomic Pathology Manager

Since October 2008, TJ Smith has been leading the Anatomic Pathology departments of Cytology, Electron Microscopy, Flow Cytometry, and Histology. He is also responsible for the Inpatient Phlebotomy at Intermountain Medical Center and Outreach Phlebotomy departments and the phlebotomy/specimen processing school. TJ started working for Intermountain in 2000 as a Lab Assistant in Histology.  

TJ completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Utah State University in 2000 and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Utah in 2006.

Karen Brownell, Support Services Manager

Karen Brownell is the Support Services Manager at Central Laboratory. In her position she is responsible for managing Client Services, Specimen Processing, Billing and Coding as well as coordinating with our Patient Access Department, Courier Services and Environment Services. Her career began as a Medical Technologist in Hematology at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. In her 17 years with the company she has had the opportunity to gain experience in various positions including Account Manager for the Urban South Region (USR), Laboratory Billing for USR, Compliance Administrator for Intermountain Laboratory Services and Coding Supervisor for Central Laboratory.

Karen graduated with BS in Clinical Laboratory Science and a minor in Chemistry from BYU. She attained her Masters in Management from the University of Phoenix in 2006.

Kim Sanderson, Clinical Laboratory Manager

Kim is the Clinical Lab Manager at the Central Laboratory whose responsibilities include providing oversight and direction for Chemistry, Hematology, Coagulation, Urinalysis, Immunochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Pathology at the Central Lab as well as budgets, compliance to regulatory standards, Human Resource development and daily operation. Kim was responsible for the implementation of Central Lab IQS project. He was involved in leading the development of the Central Lab including the planning and building the current Central lab building. Kim’s career began at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City. His career started with Intermountain Healthcare at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center as the supervisor of chemistry and specimen processing and then he moved to LDS Hospital as the supervisor of chemistry and hematology. Shortly after, he took the lab manager position responsible for specimen processing, chemistry, hematology, microbiology and molecular pathology.

Kim graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and chemistry.

Kim enjoys most sports including tennis, basketball, horseback riding, cycling and hiking. He has five children and six stepchildren. His grandchildren and step-grandchildren are the highlight of his life and Kim is happiest when he is with them.

Debra Zern, Quality Assurance Manager

Deb is the manager of the Quality Assurance, Education and Transfusion Medicine departments at the Central Laboratory. Deb has over 25 years of experience in laboratory quality assurance, education and regulatory compliance. Deb came to Intermountain from Salt Lake Regional Medical Center where she was Laboratory Manager. Deb is married with 5 children. Her hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, sewing and spending time with her children and grandchildren.  

Deb received a BS in Microbiology, emphasis in Medical Technology from BYU. She is certified as MT (ASCP) and CQA (ASQ). She is a member of American Society for Quality and ASCLS-UT where she served as President 2002-2004.

Medical Directors 

Dr. Sterling T. Bennett, Medical Director

Sterling T. Bennett, MD, MS is Medical Director of the Intermountain Healthcare Central Laboratory and Chair of the Department of Pathology in the Urban Central Region. He is also Medical Director of The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital’s laboratory and Associate Medical Director of the laboratories in LDS Hospital, Alta View Hospital, Riverton Medical Center, and Park City Medical Center. He provides medical direction for point-of-care testing in the Urban Central Region hospitals and for the Intermountain Laboratory Services Hematology Practice Council. He is a volunteer adjunct associate professor of pathology at the University of Utah and has twice received the outstanding teaching award in clinical pathology. He also serves as President of the Compass Group, a professional organization of laboratory leaders in not-for-profit integrated healthcare systems throughout the United States.  

Dr. Bennett graduated from the University of Utah with a BS degree in mathematics and an MD degree. He completed a residency in clinical pathology and fellowships in informatics and blood banking/immunohematology at the University of Minnesota and also obtained an MS degree in health informatics. He is board-certified in clinical pathology and blood banking/transfusion medicine.  

Dr. Bennett and his wife, Elizabeth, have five daughters and four grandchildren. Their hobbies include traveling, camping, hiking, boating, long walks, and old movies.  

Dr. Sarah J. Ilstrup, Medical Director

Sarah J. Ilstrup, MD is an Anatomic and Clinical Pathology trained physician who is the Medical Director for four of Intermountain Healthcare’s hospital laboratories; LDS Hospital, Alta View Hospital, Riverton Medical Center, and Park City Medical Center and Associate Medical Director for the Central Laboratory. Dr. Ilstrup provides medical directorship for several of Intermountain Healthcare’s laboratory teams including; Clinical Pathology Development Team, Transfusion Medicine Practice Council, Chemistry Practice Council, Laboratory Support Services Practice Council and Quality Assurance/Education Practice Council. Dr. Ilstrup also participates on national standard setting committees including the AABB Blood Bank/Transfusion Medicine Standards Committee and the AABB Perioperative Standards Committee.

Dr. Ilstrup attended medical school at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and completed her pathology training at the University of Minnesota Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. She also completed an Immunohematology/Blood Banking Fellowship and is board certified in Anatomic Pathology/Clinical Pathology as well as Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine.

Dr. Ilstrup and her husband Dr. Kevin Strait reside in Park City and have two college age daughters. Their hobbies include gardening, cooking, hiking/snow shoeing and skiing.

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