Epi Department News

Remembering Russell Rycheck, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology

Russell Rycheck, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, passed away on December 17, 2021. He will be remembered as a celebrated professor and respected colleague. Dr. Rycheck was a professor at Pitt Public Health for 42 years, where he received multiple awards for teaching, including Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Excellence in Teaching and the Margaret Gloninger award for teaching and service.  

Self-compassion can be good for the heart, Thurston finds

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - New research from secondary EPI faculty Rebecca Thurston sheds light on the ways that being kinder to yourself may be good for your heart. The study found that women who practice self-compassion overall have stronger cardiovascular health, further cementing the correlation between mind and body. “Self-compassion is a psychological construct that includes relating to oneself with kindness or compassion, particularly duri... 

A Broken System: Health Care Inequity

WQED - EPI’s Dara Mendez, BCHS’s Patricia Documet, and Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH ’00) are featured in a 30-minute documentary showcasing widespread and troubling health disparities. Lack of access to affordable care, racism, marginalization and other factors have led to increased rates of cancer, diabetes, asthma, and fetal and maternal death in Pittsburgh’s African American, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ and disabilities communities.  

Wenzel, Kagan, Newman are Highly Cited Researchers for 2021

Congratulations to EOH’s Sally Wenzel and Valerian Kagan and EPI’s Anne Newman for their inclusion in the 2021 list of Highly Cited Researchers. The list identifies researchers who have demonstrated significant influence in their chosen fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. A total of 18 researchers from Pitt were included in this year's list.   

Portela wins ASH Abstract Achievement Award

Gerard Portela (EPI ‘24) was honored for the abstract “Comprehensive Assessment of Cognitive Function in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease Deficits in Memory and Processing Speed” at the American Society of Hematology conference in Atlanta.  

Epi Gives Back participates in Holiday Health Fair for underserved communities

Epi Gives Back members Robbie Burke, Harika Dyer, Elora Kalix and Dr. Nancy Glynn, joined Dr. Tiffany Gary-Webb, Dr. Dara Mendez and the Black Equity Coalition for a Holiday Health Fair and Vaccine Clinic in North Braddock on Saturday, December 11, 2021. This event was an opportunity for the group to collect data on the community’s reasons for getting the COVID-19 vaccination, as well as to learn why some individuals might be vaccine-hesitant. M... 

Tenant Cities: Unpaid housing health fines leave some Allegheny County tenants cold

PUBLIC SOURCE - EPI’s Donald Burke wants the department to review what it’s doing now, get data from other jurisdictions and consider how it might better achieve the goal of safe and livable housing. “It’s an important function of the Health Department,” Burke said. “The environmental factors that are found in the housing inspections that deal with air quality, water quality [and] the social environment are all important determinants of health.”... 

COVID-19 could eventually be seasonal, scientists say

CNN - "We need more research to disentangle all the factors that may link seasonality to COVID-19 cases," HPM’s Hawre Jalal said. "Since it has been doing it twice so predictably, it's highly likely that a winter wave will happen again. That doesn't mean that we should give up and say, 'It's seasonal, we just have to go with that.' I think a very important distinction to make is that we have some predictable pattern to it, so we can prepare for ... 

Data analysts proved what Black Pittsburgh knew about COVID's racial disparities

NPR - The ferocity of the COVID-19 pandemic did what Black Pittsburgh communities, which make up a quarter of the city's population, thought impossible. It shook the norms. Black researchers, medical professionals and allies knew that people of color experienced bias in public health policy, even before the pandemic. As the deadly virus emerged, data anaylsts, foundation directors, epidemiologists including Tiffany Gary-Webb, pooled their talent... 

Mendez and colleagues publish paper on association of residence in high-police contact neighborhoods with preterm birth

JAMA NETWORK OPEN - In this cross-sectional study of 1059 Minneapolis residents who gave birth to a live singleton in 2016, the odds of preterm birth for pregnant people living in a neighborhood with high police presence was significantly higher compared with the odds of their racial counterparts in a low-presence neighborhood (90% increase for White individuals, 100% increase for US-born Black individuals, and 10% for Black individuals born out... 

Harrison and other Medical Experts are Working to Detect the Omicron Variant

WTAE - "The big question is when will we detect it and also how rapidly will it spread? There have been other variants that look scary that didn't spread very well in the U.S. and other parts of the world, so I expect that we will see it sometime soon but exactly what it will do when it gets here - we are not really clear," said EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Singh: 2021 Early Career Excellence Award

Tushar Singh (EPI '14) awarded 2021 Early Career Excellence Award in recognition of significant achievements early in an alumnus or alumna's career.   

Higher Risk of Liver Cancer in People with NAFLD Linked to High Blood Iron Levels

CANCER HEALTH - “NAFLD may contribute to the rising incidence of HCC in the U.S. However, only a small fraction of NAFLD patients eventually develop HCC. The liver is the primary reservoir of body iron. The iron overload can cause hepatotoxicity and liver damage,” said EPI’s Jian-Min Yuan, senior author and chair of cancer prevention at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “A direct link between serum iron level and HCC risk would support a harmful role ... 

CDC Confirms That a Case of Monkeypox Has Made It to the US—Here's Why Experts Say Not to Worry

HEALTH MAGAZINE - Monkeypox is a "rare but potentially serious viral illness," per the CDC. The disease itself is caused by infection with monkeypox virus, which is a "distant cousin" of the deadly and now-eradicated smallpox disease, according to EPI's Donald S. Burke, dean emeritus. "It has a low mortality rate compared to smallpox, but it looks the same."   

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