Epi Department News

Mendez on addressing Pittsburgh's public health crisis: racism

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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... 

Washington to speak in Philly

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Raynard Washington (EPI '09, '12) is the chief epidemiologist at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. In this role, Washington is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data that provides actionable information on the health status of Philadelphia residents. He coordinates and provides guidance across the department and works internally and externally to enhance existing and establish new health surveillance systems. He... 

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

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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... 


EPI's Meg Carr awarded Goldstein scholarship for work on Hepatitis C surveillance

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MPH student Margaret Carr (EPI ‘20) has been awarded the 2019 Bernard D. Goldstein Student Award in Environmental Health Disparities and Public Health Practice in recognition of her project, "Hepatitis C Surveillance at Allegheny County Health Department". In the award citation, CPHP Director Wendy Braund cites, “Your work with ACHD is an outstanding example of the actively involved Pitt Public Health student-taking your learning from the classr... 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.  

Zhang wins Arlene Caggiula Student Award in Nutrition

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Xiao Zhang (EPI '23) won this award for outstanding epidemiology students conducting nutrient-related research. Zhang was honored for her contribution to exploring the effect of high-dose marine omega-3 fatty acids on atherosclerosis. This work was published in the journal Nutrients in November 2019 with Zhang as senior author.   

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

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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

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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... 

El Khoudary, Thurston recognized by North American Menopause Society

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EPI's Samar El Khoudary was elected as a new NAMS board member and also received a poster prize for work presented during the meeting. El Khoudary is also faculty at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. EPI's Rebecca Thurston was elected 2019-20 President of NAMS. Thurston is also faculty in psychiatry and psychology. Congratulations!   

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