Epi Department News

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Burke: First COVID-19 vaccine shot just as effective as the second

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered to curb the spread of the disease require two shots for full protection, but some experts say one shot may be enough, at least for now. "As soon as I saw the reports on the Moderna and Pfizer applications for emergency use authorization, I saw both had striking effectiveness," said EPI's Donald Burke.   

Bodnar receives SER Carol J. Hogue Mid-Career Award

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Congratulations to EPI's Lisa Bodnar for receiving the 2021 Society for Epidemiologic Research Carol J. Rowland Hogue Award recognizing a mid-career scientist who has made an exceptional contribution to the practice of epidemiology. Hear from the 2021 awardees at the SER 2021 Virtual Conference June 23-25.   

Balascio among 25 Under 25: Women of Color to Watch

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MS. MAGAZINE - Phoebe Balascio (EPI '21) is a transracial, transnational, Chinese American adoptee, passionate about racial justice, immigrant justice, disability justice, and the adoption industrial complex. Her current research at Pitt Public Health focuses on gender-based violence.   

Gary-Webb, Baumann featured in new book The Science of Health Disparities Research

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NIMHD - The Science of Health Disparities Research is an in-depth volume for comprehensive information on conducting clinical and translational health disparities studies and features EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb and BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) authored the chapter "Racial/Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Other Social Determinants."   

El Khoudary finds abdominal fat gain tied to heart disease risk in menopause

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UPMC - Women who experience an accelerated accumulation of abdominal fat during menopause are at greater risk of heart disease, even if their weight stays steady, according to research published in the journal Menopause. "We need to shift gears on how we think about heart disease risk in women, particularly as they approach and go through menopause," said EPI's Samar El Khoudary, senior author.   

Costacou - Type 1 diabetes onset before menarche shortens reproductive window

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HEALIO - "Studies have provided discrepant findings on the issue of early menopause in women with type 1 diabetes," said EPI's Tina Costacou. "Our results suggest that the discrepancies may relate to whether the type 1 diabetes diagnosis precedes menarche or not, something that previous investigations did not examine."   

Meet Taylor Robinson, Health Justice Scholar

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Research with a health disparities focus is the core of Taylor Robinson's (EPI MPH '22) pursuits. She has been involved in research throughout college and in high school. In college, she was an intern in the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Internship and was a 2019 Amgen NIH Scholar. Her research topics have included patient-physician communication bias, linear regression correlates of behavioral change techniques for smoking cessation on Twitt... 

Meet Phoebe Balascio, Health Justice Scholar

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Phoebe Balascio (EPI MS '21) is excited to participate in the Health Justice Scholars Program so that she can broaden her knowledge in health equity issues and deepen her critical thinking in her areas of interest.   

Mendez receives Provost's Award for Diversity in the Curriculum

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PITTWIRE - EPI's Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity, received the award for enhancing Clincial Experience courses for first-year students by introducing a book club which explored the history and ongoing practice of racism within medicine. "Star faculty like Dr. Mendez will help accelerate our efforts in diversity and inclusive excellence in our school," said Dean Maureen Lichtveld. Congratulations!   

COVID-19: Allegheny County reports 3 confirmed cases of UK coronavirus variant

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KDKA/CBS NEWS – Lee Harrison of Pitt Medicine and EPI said the current safety efforts are enough for now. “What we know about the UK strain is that it’s definitely more transmissible,” said Harrison. “It spreads more rapidly than other strains. We also know the current vaccines are quite effective against it.” He said symptoms of the variant and original strains aren’t much different. But washing hands, social distancing, and double masking are ... 

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

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PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers generated by multicenter research collaborations. As co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center, she helps design and optimize data collection and m... 

Mendez on equity and reproductive justice, plus One Book, One Community

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PITTWIRE - EPI's Dara Mendez started her work in health equity as an undergrad and has now been researching racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth, and women's health for the past 18 years. She will lead a conversation with scholar Dána-Ain Davis, author of this year’s OBOC selection, on 2/26.  

Health officials say the coronavirus will likely become endemic in the next several years. What does that mean? Burke explains.

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USA TODAY - The CDC defines endemic as the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence” of a disease within a population. An endemic disease spreads at a baseline level every year without causing major disruption to people's lives, said EPI's Donald Burke. “Things that are endemic are present for long periods of time without interruption, continuously circulating in the population," like the common cold, he said. “Epidemic means something that co... 

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