Epi Faculty News

Staying Social Can Boost Healthy ‘Gray Matter’ in Aging Brains

US NEWS (HealthDay News) — Older adults who get together with friends, volunteer, or go to classes have healthier brains, which could help them ward off dementia, according to a new study led by postdoc Cynthia Fox of EPI. Being socially engaged—even moderately—with at least one relative or friend activates parts of the brain needed to recognize familiar faces and emotions, make decisions, and feel rewarded. "We need to do more research on the d... 

The opioid crisis didn’t disappear amid the pandemic. It still calls for urgent action.

THE WASHINGTON POST - Despite the predominance of the coronavirus pandemic among national priorities, the paper's editorial board urges the dedication of public health funds and attention to the ongoing opioid crisis, citing data gathered by HPM's Hawre Jalal and EPI's Donald S. Burke which suggests that the 2018 decline in mortality traced to a short-term drop in the supply of a particularly deadly Chinese-made synthetic opioid, carfentanil, ra... 

Frailty factor: How well you walk when you’re older may depend on one gene

STUDY FINDS  – While many seniors try to keep frailty at bay through diet and exercise, a PItt study finds that who becomes infirm may come down to one gene. “Most people think about dopamine’s role in mobility in the context of Parkinson’s disease, but not in normal aging," says lead author EPI's Caterina Rosano, "We found that in older, frail adults, those who have a high-dopamine genotype are more likely to maintain a faster gait and may be ... 

Global Responses to COVID-19 (video

Organized and moderated by Pitt Public Health's Global Health Student Association, a panel of researchers from around the world discusses critical questions around the current pandemic. Panelists in this intriguing discussion include Dr. Solomon F. Ofori-Acquah (Accra, Ghana), Dr. Jean Nachega (EPI; Capetown, South Africa), Dr. Andrew Martin (London, England), and our student moderator Bethany Flage (GHSA president).  

Van Panhuis on new, secretive data system shaping federal pandemic response

CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY - “It is a big leap forward,” said EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis, who is working to get access to the platform for a group of 600 researchers. “They are making major progress in this pandemic,” but much of the data was designed with federal government users in mind, not academic researchers or the public. “It’s a bit disappointing,” he said. “Currently we have to invent that part of the system.”  

Summer of 2020: Evolution of our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and ability to forecast COVID-19 (video)

What we have learned during the summer of 2020 that puts SARS-CoV-2 into perspective with other emerging viruses and explores the current state of COVID-19 forecasting for the next few months. IDM's Amy Hartman talks what we know (and don't know) about SARS-CoV-2 and EPI's Donald Burke discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely phases of the epidemic in our region.    

Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research

PITTWIRE - The Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and 15 national health organizations selected EPI's Dara Mendez as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Effective Practice at the Community Level. Mendez specializes in understanding and addressing racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth, and women's health. The award recognizes her significant work toward improving public health practice through effec... 

Bodnar on sending her kids back to school

TIME - EPI's Lisa Bodnar said her children's schools will begin the year all-remote. While spring “was not a good learning experience,” she feels encouraged by efforts to add more structure to the digital school day this fall. “I’m much more hopeful that it will be closer to what it could be in school. I know that they will be safer,” but she's not fully convinced that all of their needs will be met.  

McTigue among researchers collecting stories of COVID-19 patients in Story Booth project

TRIB LIVE - Story Booth dates back to 2016 and features stories of patients with ailments from cancer to organ transplantation. "In the long term, we think that these kinds of studies may be particularly well-suited to provide the data that patients and their health care teams need to make better decisions," said Division of Internal Medicine's Kathleen McTigue, also an associate professor of epidemiology.   

Burke talks about how Pittsburgh’s virus success fizzled in crowded bars, eateries

AP – Epidemiologist Donald S. Burke said a preliminary review of mobility data shows the recent spike is consistent with an outbreak fueled by a narrow demographic such as younger people at bars and restaurants. As a second tier of hot-spot cities, Pittsburgh is still fertile ground for the virus. “The real question is are we going to overwhelm the hospital capacity in our region? Are we going to have the number of ICU beds and ventilators?”  

Gary-Webb testifies at PA Democratic Health Committee on Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition

EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb presented testimony on COVID-19 disparities and our equity response at the July 15 House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on COVID-19 Health Disparities, impressing Representative Stephen Kinsey who wants to follow-up with Gary-Webb to connect the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh groups and using the Pittsburgh group as a model for others.   

Why are minorities getting hit harder by COVID-19? Partly because of systemic racism, says Gary-Webb

THE MORNING CALL - EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb, member of the Pittsburgh Black Covid-19 Equity Coalition, said there is a lack of robust and accessible testing, and that testing sites are not concentrated in communities of color. “We know that there’s disproportionate impacts, so we really think interventions now are desperately needed,” she said. “The narrative is clear, so now we really need to take action.”  

Burke on Allegheny County’s increase in opioid overdose deaths

POST-GAZETTE - “The epidemic has a lot of drivers that go deep into society. It’s a combination of the persons who are susceptible to drug use because of unemployment and a sense of despair in many parts of our country,” Dean Emeritus Donald Burke said. And now that the world is in the middle of a pandemic where stay-at-home orders leave people isolated, unemployed, and stressed, he doesn’t doubt there will be an increase in 2020.  

What the Allegheny County Health Department is doing to address health disparities. An open letter to the community.

NEXT PITTSBURGH - Allegheny County, like Minneapolis, has substantial racial disparities that impact all of us. Our communities are starkly divided along racial and ethnic lines. With these lines come distinct differences in access to housing, education, transportation and employment. These differences translate directly to worse health outcomes among our communities of color. In Allegheny County, black people have dramatically higher rates of b... 

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