Alumni News - All

Editorial | Ramp up vaccinations to protect individuals, community

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - As we did in wearing masks and taking other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we should focus together on getting inoculated to move toward what scientists and doctors call “herd immunity” – a collective level of protection that blocks the spread of the virus. Herd immunity requires 80% of the population to be protected by either vaccination or previous infection, according to alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08). “As ... 

If I obtained the vaccine, do I need to quarantine away from my 70-year-old husband?

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - Pitt Public Health alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08), associate professor of biology at Pitt Johnstown, and fellow experts answer the public's questions about COVID-19.  For starters: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 contain mRNA and not any virus, which means that you are not contagious. It is safe to interact with members of your household without a mask after the vaccine.  

Study finds 35 percent of counties have two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines

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NBC NEWS -  With 200 million vaccine doses due by the end of March, states, and counties have been left to sort out where to send vaccines first and how to get them there. A study found tremendous variation in how far people would need to drive for the vaccine, with 35 percent of counties having two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Those with long driving distances between sites and a low number of sites overall “are going to... 

Feeling stressed about your role in life? For women, that could be a health risk

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AHA NEWS - How a woman feels about her roles at home and at work during midlife can affect several factors that influence her heart health. Dissertation research by lead author Andrea Leigh Stewart (EPI '18)  found women who felt more stressed had greater odds of having high blood pressure, being overweight, and not eating a healthy diet. Conversely, those who felt their roles were more rewarding were substantially more likely to be physically a... 

Al-Ahmadi becomes first woman to serve in leadership position in Saudi government

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ALKALEEJ TODAY – Hanan Bint Abdul Rahim Al-Ahmadi (HPM ’95) was appointed assistant president of the Shoura Council in Saudi Arabia. This appointment elevated her to the third-highest position of the council and made her the first Saudi woman to serve in a leadership position in the Kingdom’s consultative body.  

Newman awarded AHA Clinical Research Prize (video)

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EPI's Anne Newman received the American Heart Association's 2020 Clinical Research Prize based on her extensive research career focused on aging, including the determinants of physical and cognitive function, as well as successful aging and longevity. She is an expert in the study of cardiovascular disease, aging and body composition, and sarcopenia (muscle loss) and physical functioning.  

Acosta-Cazares: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Practice

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"The application of the epidemiological method to everyday problems is something that pleases me and creates challenges for me. I enjoy my work because most of the time I have been involved in the analysis of morbidity and mortality data, in the research of health problems from the epidemiological perspective, and in teaching physicians who are in the training  of a medical residency in epidemiology."  

Sun: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Research

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Shumei Sun is the W. Hans Carter Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has joint appointments in the Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at VCU. Her knowledge of the developmental trajectories of children led to her decade-long work with the CDC to generate the latest version of the CDC-NCHS growth charts that are used by... 

Wei: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Research

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"I entered the doctoral program without an MPH and Pitt Public Health cultivated my deep appreciation for the field of public health, in particular its principle of social justice. I was fortunate enough to have some of the best advisors and mentors, who helped me establish a vision for my research and career and also cared for me on a personal level."   

Knauer: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

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"At Pitt Public Health, I gained a deep understanding of how environmental factors like water quality, air pollution and toxic chemicals impact human health. This knowledge has been invaluable in my career in journalism, as I am able to communicate environmental issues to the public in a way that is easily understandable and can help drive solutions to these pressing problems."    

Senter-Jamieson: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

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Leigha Senter is a licensed genetic counselor and associate professor at The Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute where she has specialized in cancer genetics risk assessment for 17 years. Senter has more than a decade of research experience with a primary focus in BRCA gene-related projects with more than 80 peer reviewed publications. "It was at Pitt that I developed a clinical curiosity and a foundatio... 

King: 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Service

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Since 2011, King and her family have raised over $65,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCF) as part of their annual fundraising campaign, the “Take Steps” walk. Although the in-person walk was replaced by an online event this past June, King and her daughter, Madeline, raised $8,533 with creative fund-raising efforts, including posting video entries in the CCF’s online “IBDs Got Talent” competition.  

Hosman: 2020 Early Career Excellence Award

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Emma Hosman is Response Coordintor for the Philadelphia Department of Health's Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Program, working on the front lines of PA's largest city's COVID-19 emergency response. "This year has really shown that public health is adaptable...[COVID-19] is challenging norms. It's challenging what we have. It's challenging all these systems. And that's great. It's allowing us to be adaptable and change what we're doi... 

Taylor: 2020 Early Career Excellence Award

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"Like anyone in academia, I wear a lot of hats with my job between teaching, research and administrative duties but I still get excited about writing papers and publishing my research. I have always enjoyed the writing process and without hesitation that is my favorite part of the job. The only thing that is better is when I have a mentee that successfully publishes their work."    

Blaney: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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Kayleigh Blaney attended the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 2013 with a BS in biology and history and in 2014 with a Master of Public Health in epidemiology. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Public Health at the University of South Florida. After working with the University of Pittsburgh Long Life Family study, Blaney became an epidemiologist for the Oakland County Health Division (Michigan) in 2016. Her expertise includes surve... 

Crall: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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"My favorite part of my current role is using my education to create a safer environment for staff and patients. During the COVID-19 crisis this has been a difficult task, but I couldn't be prouder of the way my fellow infection prevention team has come together to ensure the safety of all."  

Egnot: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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"I utilize all aspects of my Pitt Public Health training in my current position. As a consultant, I often work on multidisciplinary teams to solve clients’ unique problems related to human health risk management. I am grateful for the diversity of coursework, training, and other applied opportunities afforded to me as a Pitt Public Health student, because I feel like those opportunities have allowed me to make meaningful contributions to the tea... 

Kidwell: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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Kelley Kidwell is an ssociate professor at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics. She earned her PhD in biostatistics at Pitt Public Health in 2012. It was in graduate school that she found her passion for clinical trial design and analysis by working on her dissertation with Abdus Wahed and through her graduate student assistantship at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP, now... 

Malek: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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Angela Malek is a research assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. She earned her MPH and PhD degrees in epidemiology in 2006 and 2011, respectively, from Pitt Public Health. Malek is principal investigator of a K01 career development award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute investigating long-term maternal and infant complications in pre-eclampsia, with a focus ... 

Resciniti: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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Nicholas V. Resciniti received his MPH with a concentration in infectious disease management, intervention, and community practice from Pitt Public Health in 2016. Currently, he is pursing his PhD in epidemiology from the University of South Carolina, with his dissertation focusing on microbiome disruption and the longitudinal association with cognitive impairment and dementia. His research focus is related to understanding the biological underp... 

Richards: 2020 Delta Omega Initiates

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"I am fortunate to truly enjoy my work, as I have come to realize that not everyone can honestly say the same. Two things excite me. First, I look for stories in healthcare data. I get to identify variation in clinical, operational, and financial performance at hospitals and dig deep into their data to create actionable insights that drive change. Second, I manage and develop a broad staff. I get to be somewhat of a chameleon to harness their va... 

Sundermann: 2020 Delta Omega Initiate

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Alexander Sundermann is a clinical research coordinator and a DrPH student in epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. As a doctoral student and clinical research coordinator, Sundermann works in the Microbial Genomic Epidemiology Laboratory (MiGEL). He and the MiGEL team are working with experts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Carnegie Mellon University to build an Enhanced Detection System for Healthcare Associated Transmi... 

Why do COVID death rates seem to be falling? Derek Angus weighs in.

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NATURE - Critical-care physician Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) of the University of Pittsburgh says that his hospital’s statistics team also saw reductions over time. “Without question, we’ve noticed a drop in mortality,” says Angus. “All things being equal, patients have a better chance of getting out alive.”  

COVID-19 & Health Disparities

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As part of the Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, EPI doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell Miland , and Pitt's director of health sciences diversity, equity, and inclusion, Mario Browne (BCHS '05), discuss COVID-19 and health disparities.  

CDC awards PERU $3.5 million to establish suicide prevention program to for veterans in northwest Pa.

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ERIE NEWS - The CDC will award Pitt's Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) $700,000 in funding annually for the next five years to create the Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program, a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention, focusing especially on service members, veterans, and their families. Led by Jan Pringle (EPI '86), PERU employs several Pitt Public Health alumni in its various programs.  

Burke and Baumann take filmmaking to the health sciences

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Jessica Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) have created a new form of public health research called Collaborative Filmmaking. The six-step process engages its participants to create a detailed, multimedia form of study rarely seen in the field. Baumann said she knew Pitt was the right fit for her studies when she came across the work of  Jessica Burke , professor and associate chair in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Scienc... 

BCHS alum joins staff at Decker College new rehab therapies program

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Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ’11) joined Binghamton University in November 2019 as a senior staff assistant for both Decker’s School of Rehabilitation Science, established the same year, and its Master of Public Health program.    

Edmond named CMO for WVU Health System

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Michael Edmond (IDM ’91) has been appointed as the new chief medical officer for the WVU Health System. He is currently serving as chief quality officer, associate chief medical officer, and clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa. Edmond will begin his new position in November.  

Angus named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation

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Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation. ​This new role will complement his recent appointment as UPMC’s chief health care innovation officer, and foster strategic linkages between the two organizations. Dr. Angus will work to stimulate the fusion of multiple disciplines and skills, blending expertise in clinical care delivery with organization science, decision psychology, machine learning, Bayesian... 

Hernandez says experimental medicines for COVID-19 could help someday, but home runs not guaranteed

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WBHM - This proof-of concept study suggests that the strategy of blocking virus with antibodies holds promise. Inmaculada “Inma” Hernandez (HPM ’16), Pitt School of Pharmacy, is hopeful, but she doubts that these drugs will be a game-changer. “These drugs are so complex to produce, probably we will not have antibodies available for treating everybody who gets coronavirus. They’re probably going to be considerably expensive.”  

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

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NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get randomized trials executed successfully and rapidly in the face of a pandemic, and it definitely puts us on a sure footing.  

Angus says large antibody study offers hope for virus vaccine efforts

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LOS ANGELES TIMES – A comprehensive study from Iceland revealed that natural antibodies remained stable for four months, longer than was first thought. HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92), UPMC’s critical care chief, said that “will be encouraging for people working on vaccines.” He added that the infection fatality rate of 0.3 percent is in keeping with recent estimates here in the U.S.  

Baumann and Burke create community with shared art space to combat negative effects of physical distancing

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, how have you stayed connected and maintained community connections? BCHS' Jessie Burke and Sara Baumann asked the Pitt community to respond with art projects, which are now available for viewing in a new virtual gallery featured on Pitt Public Health's website. "[A]rt space interventions like this project can be powerful approaches for reducing adverse physiological and psychological health outcomes," said Baumann. ... 

Angus has new questions about remdesivir COVID-19 efficacy

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REUTERS - HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS '92) and Pitt's Erin McCreary coauthored a study editorial raising questions about whether some patients get more benefit from remdesivir than others and whether it matters if patients receive remdesivir and steroids together. It is still possible that remdesivir could improve recovery for millions of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, they added, but more research is needed before that becomes clear.  

Egan finds short-term PrEP use protects at-risk men on vacation

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MEDICAL XPRESS - "We started this as a feasibility study to see if we could identify barriers to short-term PrEP use and make adjustments. But we were excited when we got the results and discovered that almost all the participants were adherent to the point of protection against HIV," said BCHS’ James Egan (BCHS '14). "This gives us a promising strategy to pursue in engaging at-risk men in HIV prevention efforts that work for them."  

Angus says “Covid vaccine shortages are very likely. Without a plan, it will be a feeding frenzy.”

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THE TELEGRAPH - Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of critical care medicine and HPM distinguished professor, says hard conversations about who should be prioritized will be needed both within and between countries. It might be decided that frontline workers should be at the head of the queue, but you could say that minorities who have a disproportionate burden of the disease should have a chance. You must be transparent about your principles of fair... 

Gender Equity Commission report calls for swift action on inequities in Pittsburgh

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PUBLIC SOURCE - A new Gender Equity Commission report lists 11 recommended actions to address gender and racial disparities in Pittsburgh.Gender and race are at the center of its recommendations but the report also mentions how people who are differently abled, elderly or trans, for example, can feel discrimination more acutely. India Hunter (BCHS '19) voiced her concerns. "We, as a city, we’re really good at making a lot of documents and talkin... 

Pandav provides COVID-19 update on the situation in Timor-Leste

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Rajesh Pandav (EPI ‘01) is currently a WHO representative for the Timor-Leste government. Pandav provided a COVID-19 update on the situation in the island nation, the preparedness and response measures put into place, and addressed continuing challenges in a recent update that was posted to the YouTube channel for the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia  

Masks and Much More: Public Health in the Time of COVID-19

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PITTSBURGH CURRENT—"Green is associated with 'go,' 'all clear,' 'nothing to worry about'—but during this pandemic, green could not be further from the truth." Doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell-Miland (EPI '20) and advisor EPI's Dara Mendez explain why we all still need to be vigilant and practice infection prevention precautions. The authors discuss transmission, testing and tracing, disparate impacts, and the mental health toll, calling for ... 

Williams-Pate discusses COVID-19 safety during interview on The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show

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Kyanna Williams-Pate (BCHS ’19) provided sound public health advice on protecting yourself from COVID-19 during a recent interview on The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show.  She also shared information about the free COVID testing available at the Federally Qualified Health Care Centers (FQHC) in Allegheny County.  

Brent on how brief interventions are tied to lower repeat suicide attempts

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The fewer who attempt suicide, the fewer that die by suicide. These results have "important clinical implications" that should motivate healthcare systems to implement brief interventions, commented epidemiologist David Brent (’87 Hyg) and Nadine M. Melhem. “We need to be prepared with brief suicide preventive interventions that every clinician could deliver face to face or through telemedicine.”  

Gary-Webb on the new Pittsburgh coalition tackling racial inequities and the pandemic

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WESA - Coalition scientists have pushed to get more coronavirus testing into communities of need. To get that done, EPI’s Tiffany Gary-Webb said they mapped out where Black families live in poverty and lack access to quality medical care, and then created an overlay showing where the federally qualified county health centers were located. That model allowed the council to effectively increase access to testing within that area.  

Papalia receives PhD in Kinesiology from Penn State

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Congratulations to Zack Papalia who received his PhD in Kinesiology at the 2019 winter commencement at Penn State University. Papalia earned his Master of Public Health from the Department of Health Policy and Management in 2012.  

Dutta awarded scholarship from U.S. State Department

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Congratulations to Justin A. Dutta (IDM '19, HUGEN '23) who was recently awarded a Critical Languages Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study Portuguese. With an acceptance rate of less than 10%, the Critical Language Scholarship is one of the country's most competitive scholarships and the most prestigious language program for U.S. citizens.   

Understanding and Addressing the COVID-19 Infodemic

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Since the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, social media misinformation appears to be spreading faster than the virus itself, prompting the WHO to declare an "infodemic" of misinformation. During this conversation, BCHS's Steve Albert and Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19 '23) will discuss how COVID-19 related misinformation fits within the framework of science denialism, and provide strategies to help public health professionals and othe... 

Is Remdesivir a New COVID-19 Standard of Care? Althouse responds to the NEJM Data

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CONTAGION LIVE – In response to concerns about analyses of the relationship between morality and time-to-recovery remdesivir data, Andrew Althouse (EPI ’13), assistant professor at Pitt’s Division of General Internal Medicine, said that “deaths were assigned a failure to recover and the ‘worst’ time possible, so this does not result in a biased estimate of recovery.”  

Angus says disorganized research slows discovery of COVID-19 treatments

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NPR - Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92) says the problem is that our system rewards tribalism, with insufficient motivation for effective collaboration. He's leading a fast-track remap trial for COVID-19, part of an international effort involving hundreds of investigators. He has lots of opinions about which drugs might work best, but he'd rather focus on a trial design that can be as modular as possible and let as many people in as possible.  

Angus says the search for coronavirus treatments is jumbled

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CNN – The scramble for successful treatments is disjointed and chaotic, according to Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92). There are two million people who already have this disease. If even one in 10 has been able to participate in a trial, we could have gone through 100 different drugs by now and known definitively which ones worked or not. The disorder is global, and there aren’t enough tests right now to practice effective public health.  

Chaotic search for coronavirus treatments undermines efforts, says Angus

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WASHINGTON POST - “It’s a cacophony—it’s not an orchestra. There’s no conductor,” said Pitt Med and HPM faculty's Derek Angus (BCHS '92), who is leading a covid-19 trial to test multiple therapies. “My heart aches over the complete chaos in the response.” The lack of coordination puts the world at risk of ending up with a raft of inconclusive and conflicting studies and little idea of what interventions work for the next wave of illness.  

Burke and Baumann start University-wide Creating Community art project

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BCHS's Jessie Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) created this virtual community art project as an opportunity for our Pitt students, faculty, and staff members to nurture a sense of community by creating, connecting, and sharing experiences navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis that is significantly affecting our lives. While the past several weeks have been incredibly challenging, through flexibility, ... 

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