On Thursday, September 13, the Department of Human Genetics gathered with other departments, centers, and divisions at Pitt and UPMC for the first Interdepartmental Human and Medical Genetics Retreat. The retreat featured a variety of talks and a poster session about the latest genetics research at Pitt. Featured speakers from Pitt Public Health were H.J. Park, Eleanor Feingold, Samantha Rosenthal, and John Shaffer.
RISK ANALYSIS - Before joining Pitt Public Health in 2001, BERNARD GOLDSTEIN, EOH professor and former dean, obtained his medical degree from NYU. In 1980, he was recruited by Rutgers Medical School to help with the increase in public and political concerns about environmental pollution. Later, he left New Jersey to head the Office of Research and Development under President Ronald Reagan.
NEW YORK TIMES - Fewer patients are winding up in nursing homes, and hundreds of the facilities are closing each year. Nationally, “200 to 300 nursing homes close each year,” said HPM's NICHOLAS CASTLE. The number of residents keeps shrinking, too, from 1.48 million in 2000 to 1.36 million in 2015, according to federal data.
The Center for Health Equity invited people to create their own poster on what health equity means to them. Their spot was also a smoke-free zone and participants were invited to sign a petition to make Pitt a smoke-free campus.
Pitt's departments of biostatistics and biomedical informatics held a half-day joint faculty retreat to share respective areas of work, identify common interests, and foster collaborations in research and education.
NATIONAL LAW REVIEW - Alumna MELISSA FAN (HPM '12) is hired as an associate at Dinsmore Law Firm. Melissa focuses her practice on health care law, corporate law, regulatory and compliance issues and food and drug law. She received her JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Before joining the firm, Melissa interned with Judge Michael Wojcik of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.
Congratulations to EPI's JANE CAULEY for receiving the 2018 Shirley Hohl Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. She received the award after volunteering for numerous positions and projects with the society. “To be awarded the ASBMR 2018 Shirley Hohl Service Award is a great honor and privilege, and I thank our membership for the opportunity to serve," said Cauley.
ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Children are at a considerable disadvantage when competing with adults for livers from deceased organ donors in the U.S. allocation system. “Using national, long-term data, our report is the first to demonstrate that the scoring system, on its own, dramatically underestimates the risk of death in the next 90 days and, thereby, disadvantages children," says HPM chair MARK ROBERTS.
SCIENCE - In an effort to understand the epidemic dynamics and perhaps predict its future course, Pitt Public Health researchers analyzed records of nearly 600,000 overdose deaths. Dean DONALD BURKE, HPM's HAWRE JALAL, and colleagues concluded that the U.S. drug overdose epidemic has been inexorably tracking along an exponential growth curve since at least 1979.
Noble Maseru of the Center for Health Equity joined a panel discussion entitled "Human Rights in Pittsburgh and the World: Assessing Human Rights Impacts, Limitations, and Prospects at the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)". Maseru challenged the audience of students and community members to understand health equity as a human right.
OBSERVER REPORTER - Sen. Pat Toomey helped write some of the provisions for the Opioid Crisis Response Act, a collection of 70 points rolled into one bill meant to fight the opioid epidemic. The bill will offer $4.7 billion over the next few years to fund programs to help battle the epidemic. One measure in the bill, to which the Pitt Public Health research contributed, is the monitoring of victims of nonfatal overdoses who use Medicare.
HEALIO - According to a new study, when adjusting for additional clinical and social variables, hospital variation in readmission rates are reduced. “In several pay-for-performance programs, Medicare ties payments to readmission rates but accounts only for a limited set of patient characteristics — and no measures of social risk — when assessing performance of health care providers,” said HPM's ERIC ROBERTS, and colleagues.
WPXI - TV - We've long heard that an aspirin a day can help lower the risk of heart disease. A new study using participants from Pittsburgh suggests that isn't always the case. The study looked at 19,000 people worldwide, including 178 people from Pittsburgh. "People who took aspirin and people who did not take aspirin had an equal likelihood of having a long healthy life," said EPI's ANNE NEWMAN.
The Health Sciences Library System has created a new program called Spotlight Series: Software Developed @ Pitt. This program focuses on software developed by Pitt health sciences researchers. DAVID SINCLAIR, PHDL post-doctoral researcher/programmer, will present at the first session on “FRED: A versatile Framework for Modeling Infectious Diseases and Other Health Conditions.”
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - The Carnege Science Center held their Ladies Hospital Aid Society Gala last week. EOH chair SALLY WENZEL and 5 other doctors were honored with the 2018 Trailblazer award for advancing the cause of medicine in their fields. Each of them were surprised with $20,000 to help further their research.
HEALIO - During a shortage, drug prices increase two times as quickly as they would have in the absence of a shortage, according to findings published in Annals of Internal Medicine. “Prescription drug shortages may result in substitution of less effective drugs, delays in necessary treatments, and omission of or reductions in doses,” INMACULADA HERNANDEZ (HPM '16) and colleagues wrote.
NBC - Children who need lifesaving liver transplants are losing out to adults. A system used to determine who is most in need of a transplant significantly underestimates the risk of death for younger children with liver disease, a Pitt Public Health study found. Senior author and HPM chair, MARK ROBERTS, said, "pediatric transplant physicians have long recognized the scoring system isn’t adequate when comparing children to adults."
BIOPHARMA DIVE - More than 90 organizations, predominantly patient groups, criticized CVS Caremark's decision last month to incorporate value-based drug pricing analyses in some of its coverage choices, urging the company to reconsider in a Sept. 12 letter addressed to CVS CEO Larry Merlo. HPM's WALID GELLAD told BioPharma Dive that the actual action being debated may not be so severe.
TIME - Omega-3 is easily the most popular supplement in America. “We have a lot of evidence that omega-3’s may have favorable effects on the brain, but the evidence on dietary intakes and supplements is inconclusive,” says Aron Barbey at the University of Illinois. MATTHEW MULDOON (EPI '94), says “the high numbers of people taking supplements would probably be better off spending money on getting fish into their diets.”
MEDPAGE TODAY - Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been associated with cognitive and behavioral changes, especially later in the disease. However a cross-sectional, observational study published in Neurology, found that patients with ALS showed cognitive and behavioral impairment across disease stages. This misconception has "puzzled the field for years," noted Paul Wicks and BCHS's STEVE ALBERT in an accompanying editorial.