Epi Faculty News

Samargandy and El Khoudary find that running can help aging women at increased risk of heart disease

RUNNER’S WORLD – New research adds to growing evidence that the menopause transition is a critical stage for the acceleration of cardiovascular disease risk, according to lead author and epidemiology doctoral student Saad Samargandy. Senior author and associate epidemiology professor Samar El Khoudary says these shifts may be related to hormonal changes affecting arteries and veins that carry blood throughout the body, but exercise can be crucia... 

Mertz joins Pitt experts to dispel myths about Coronavirus

KDKA – During the information session, Kristen Mertz, assistant professor of epidemiology and medical epidemiologist at the Allegheny County Health Department, highlighted more aggressive measures currently in place to prevent spreading the disease. “Those are really the travel ban for foreign nationals so they are not coming to the U.S. and restrictions on U.S. citizens and residents who have been overseas,” Mertz said.  

El Khoudary discovers women at greater risk of CV disease around menopause

MEDICAL DIALOGUES - “Midlife is not just a period where women have hot flashes and experience other menopausal symptoms, it’s a time when their cardiovascular disease risk is increasing as we see significant changes in multiple clinical measures of their physical health,” said EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary. “Our study is not able to tell us why we’re seeing these changes … but we can say, right now, that women should be made aware that their cardio... 

Newman on why Ruth Bader Ginsburg Maintains Busy Public Life

U.S. NEWS - It's reasonable for Ginsburg's fans to wonder if she should be taking it easy if her goal is to outlast the current administration? EPI's Anne Newman says, "She's definitely from the use-it-or-lose-it school," adding that research evidence suggests that “periods of rest, stopping, or temporarily slowing down make it a lot harder to gear up. So it's a lot better to keep going."  

Mendez on addressing Pittsburgh's public health crisis: racism

90.5 WESA - The report brought attention to issues that already existed, says EPI's Dara Mendez. She made recommendations to Pittsburgh City Council at a hearing earlier this month about how to frame legislation passed Tuesday. To address these inequalities correctly, Mendez says that the women who are currently working on racism as a public health crisis need to be centered in the reporting of the issues and in finding the solutions. She adds t... 

Mendez addresses contributing factors to the racial inequalities in pregnancy, birth, and women's health

NEW PITTSBURGH COURIER - The CDC also found that about 3 out of 5 pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths are preventable. The work of Dara Mendez examines how the environment, policies, and systems affect pregnancy outcomes. "If we’re trying to center the experiences of the most marginalized, then they also need to be at the forefront of research." Practitioners, researchers, community members and organizers need to review the data and understa... 

Brent using MRI scans to reveal the physical makeup of thoughts and feelings

CBS - Who among us hasn't wished we could read someone else's mind, know exactly what they're thinking? Well that's impossible, or at least that's what we've always, well, thought. EPI’s David Brent runs a clinic for suicidal adolescents. He happened to attend a talk Marcel Just was giving about his autism findings and immediately wondered about his own patients. Just and Brent began planning a pilot study to see if the scanner might reveal what... 

Leckenby wins big in November

UTIMES – EPI’s Nicole Leckenby was elected to her first political office on the Pleasant Hills Borough board and released her first children’s book - in the same month. Of her decision to run, Leckenby said, “Part of it is my children, this world is crazy. I want to be involved in the community we live in. I want to make sure it’s a safer place. Our main issues were pedestrian safety, better communication between the borough and community, and r... 

IISRP to honor Marsh with Technical Award

RUBBER & PLASTICS NEWS - The International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers will honor Gary Marsh, BIOST and EPI, with the association's Technical Award this spring. Marsh, founder of Pitt's Center for Occupational Biostatics and Epidemiology, studies the long-term health effects of exposure to asbestos, man-made mineral fibers, cosmetic talc, formaldehyde, and chloroprene; and conducts epidemiological studies of communities exposed to in... 

Maseru and Mendez agree that racism as a public health crisis should be focus of city council meetings

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Noble A-W Maseru of BCHS and director of the Center for Health Equity, noted the life expectancy difference between mostly white Highland Park (84 years) and nearby, mostly black Larimer (62 years). Dara D. Mendez, EPI, added that racism weathers the body, accelerating aging, and sapping the strength of society through a waste of community resources. Likely coming later this month: votes on a trio of bills that would de... 

Students present interdisciplinary content in community session on health justice

On a wet Wednesday night, December 4, Pitt Public Health student advocates Sarah Sanders (BCHS ’22), Sarah Bigelow (BCHS ’20), Paris Ekeke (EPI ’20), and Amy Raslevich (HPM ’22) joined peers from the schools of law and nursing for a Health Justice Night at Pitt's Community Empowerment Center in Homewood. The evening was powered by PechaKucha, aimed to spark community level engagement and inter-professional collaboration by offering a unique look... 

Bodnar named committee member for infant feeding study

PITTWIRE - EPI’s Lisa Bodnar has been named a full member on the National Academy of Medicine's “Committee on Scoping Existing Guidelines for Feeding Recommendations for Infants and Young Children Under Age 2.” Bodnar’s research focuses on discovering the healthiest weight and dietary patterns for pregnant women and their children.  

Thurston in study of why it's not just menopause to blame for older women's flagging sex drive

U.S. NEWS - Postmenopausal issues definitely put a damper on a woman's desire. But just as often, it’s issues with a partner that brings sexual activity to a halt. EPI’s Rebecca Thurston contributed to a study that found that low libido has a lot of causes. The most common reasons for a lack of desire include postmenopausal conditions, erectile dysfunction, self-image, life stress, and fatigue and body pain. The good news is that many of these i... 

Identical twin kidney transplants warrant gene sequencing, Jorgensen says

MEDICAL EXPRESS - Researchers including Dana Jorgensen (EPI '14) found that kidney transplants between identical twins have high success rates, but also high rates of immunosuppressant use. About half of patients were on immunosuppresant drugs a year after transplant, but survival rates were about the same regardless. "Once you confirm that the organ donor and recipient are identical, that's really a best-case scenario," said Jorgensen. "It's al... 

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