News

2020 Best Poster Presentation - Jason Kennedy

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Congratulations to master's candidate Jason Kennedy (BIOST MS '20) who was awarded Best Poster Presentation at the annual Biostatistics Research Day on February 27 for his work on “The association between clinical phenotype cohesiveness and sepsis transitions after presentation.”   

Hernandez on barriers to biosimilars

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POLITICO - “It comes back to financial incentives,” said Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM ’16), who cited her paper published in JAMA a week ago. Once biosimilars entered the market, list prices for their biologic rivals stagnated while net prices began declining. This shows brand companies were offering bigger rebates to PBMs to try to keep market share away from biosimilars.  

King says many smokers quit before weight-loss surgery but start up again afterward

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NEW YORK TIMES - "Those who smoked more recently, younger adults, patients with low income, and patients who were married were more likely to smoke post-surgery, which may help with targeted smoking-cessation maintenance efforts," said EPI’s Wendy King, lead study author. "Smoking increases risk of short-term postoperative complications, such as wound complications, respiratory complications, and sepsis."  

Burke concerned that true number of U.S. coronavirus cases is far above official tally

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LOS ANGELES TIMES - Donald S. Burke, an EPI disease modeler, says that assumptions about the coronavirus’ ability to jump from person to person is especially conservative. The analysis assumed that each infected person will pass the virus along to 2.1 to 2.5 others over the course of their infection. But estimates for where it is spreading undetected has ranged between 5 and 6, so researchers may have greatly underestimated infections.  

2020 Best Poster Honorable Mention - Qing Yin

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Congratulations to doctoral candidate Qing Yin (BIOS '20) who received an honorable mention for his poster presentation at the annual Biostatistics Research Day on February 27 for his work on “Semi-parametric Shape Restricted Mixed Effect Regression Spline with Application on State-Wide Prenatal Screening Program Data.”  

Alumnus Interview: Jason Flatt

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UNLV NEWS CENTER - Pitt Public Health doctoral alumnus Jason Flatt (BCHS ’13) is helping lead efforts on human sexuality while building a research program on LGBTQ and aging at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Public Health. "One of the best things about public health is its interdisciplinary nature," according to Flatt, who says it allows him to tap into fields as diverse as sociology, medicine, nursing, and psychology.  

Bernstein warns EPA making ‘secret science’ rule more restrictive

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THE HILL - “My first reading of it as it came up was they actually made it worse,” said EOH’s Bernard Goldstein, adding that the agency will be limiting the number of studies it considers, weakening the pool of research from which it draws conclusions. “We use consensus in the scientific community to come to a judgment,” he said. “The present EPA is consistently acting in a way that destroys consensus and moves toward confrontation, and this is ... 

Beth Hoffman, using systems science and social media data

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Doctoral student Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19 '23) uses system science methods to analyze social media data related to health topics such as vaping and vaccination. Her master's thesis examining anti-vaccine sentiment on Facebook through social network analyses was featured by multiple media outlets including CNN, Newsweek, and NBC's WPXI.  

Jessica Frankeberger, modeling social-ecological contributions to postpartum opioid use

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In her dissertation work, doctoral student Jessica Frankeberger (BCHS '23) will use spatial analysis and modeling approaches to understand the social-ecological contexts that contribute to opioid use and related problems among postpartum women.  

Jessica Thompson, using systems science in community health

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Doctoral candidate Jessica Thompson (BCHS '21) is interested in community-engaged approaches, chronic disease prevention, rural and Appalachian women's health, mixed-methods research, and systems science approaches to community health research.  

Should schools close during a coronavirus outbreak? The answer isn’t obvious

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BALTIMORE SUN - Pitt researchers used data from the 2009 H1N1 outbreak to model how long schools should close in the case of a pandemic. “What we found was the optimal timing is 8 weeks from a disease transmission” standpoint, said HPM's Tina Batra Hershey, JD, MPH. Opening schools too soon might leave students vulnerable to infection. The same model might not follow for this outbreak, she warned, and it should be left to local school systems. ... 

FRED informs obvious strategies to fight the coronavirus

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A study of workers in Allegheny County, Pa., entitled “Policies to Reduce Influenza in the Workplace: Impact Assessments Using an Agent-Based Model,” published in 2013 in the American Journal of Public Health, was specifically cited in today's New York Times editorial arguing for mandatory sick leave to reduce transmision.  

McTigue finds gastric bypass boasts greater benefit for diabetics than sleeve gastrectomy

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MD MAGAZINE - Led by EPI’s Kathleen Mctigue, investigators studied 9710 diabetes patients to determine how outcomes differed between the two procedures. Results revealed patients who underwent RYGB experienced significantly greater weight loss at 1 and 5 years when compared to those who underwent SG.  This study, “Comparing the 5-Year Diabetes Outcomes of Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass,” is published in JAMA Surgery.  

Pitt Commits to Carbon Neutrality

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PITTWIRE  - As the planet’s climate changes in ways that pose daunting challenges, the University of Pittsburgh is accelerating its aggressive sustainability plan with a more ambitious goal: Become carbon neutral by 2037, Pitt’s 250th anniversary. Through partnerships, increased building and infrastructure efficiencies, expanded use of renewable energy sources and other measures, Pitt will build on previous efforts, including the greenhouse gas ... 

Pitt earns top 10 military-friendly designation for 9th consecutive year

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For the ninth consecutive year, the University of Pittsburgh has been recognized for its support for students in the military community with a 2020-2021 Military Friendly Top 10 School designation. Institutions were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey in “the longest-running most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.” Military-affiliated s... 

Gellad finds U.S. drug prices have risen three times faster than inflation

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - "Net prices are not necessarily what patients pay," said senior author Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and director of the CP3. "A lot of the discount is not going to the patient. We're seeing a lot of discussion that net prices have stabilized over the last few years, and that does appear to be the case. But the stabilization of net price comes on top of large increases over the last decade, many times faster than inflation... 

Mertz of Allegheny County Health Department answers questions about coronavirus preparations (video)

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WTAE - “We expect to detect cases in Pennsylvania during the coming weeks,” said Kristen Mertz, medical epidemiologist with the Allegheny County Health Department and adjunct faculty at Pitt Public Health. She’s most concerned about outbreaks at long-term health care facilities as well as other places with a large amount of elderly people because “that population is so vulnerable.”  

2020 Best Oral Presentation Honorable Mention - Luna Wei

Congratulations to doctoral student Yue (Luna) Wei (BIOS '21) on winning Best Oral Presentation Honorable Mention at the annual Biostatistics Research Day on February 27 for her work on “A Simultaneous Inference Procedure to Identify Subgroups in Targeted Therapy Development with Time-to-event Outcomes.”   

Gellad believes extended-release drugs could be costing U.S. healthcare system billions

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REUTERS - What’s interesting about this paper is the concept of trying to reduce medication cost by switching drugs rather than trying to get a decrease in price from the pharmaceutical company, said Walid Gellad. “There are many instances where people could use the short-acting form and wouldn’t be burdened with side effects and would do just as well as with the extended-release form. One of the main messages for clinicians is that we should al... 

Did a woman get coronavirus twice? Burke is skeptical.

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WIRED - News reports detailing the case raised the possibility that people may not be developing immunity to the new coronavirus, even after they’ve recovered. But Donald Burke, dean emeritus and international infectious disease specialist, says there’s not enough data to support that conclusion. “The question is really: How good is the proof? And we’re a long way away from anything solid. What we need is the sequence of the virus.”  

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Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research 

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 socioecon... (09/07/2020)
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University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions 

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

PITTWIRE - The new Healthcare Advisory Group, headed by Anantha Shekhar, new senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt Med, will monitor the health status of the campus and ensure compliance with legal regulations. Members, including HPM’s Mark Roberts, EPI’s Anne Newman, EOH’... (06/17/2020)
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O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role 

O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role

PITTWIRE - Pitt Public Health staff member Scott O'Neal recently took center stage to sing the title role in the world premiere of "Satan's Fall," composed by Steward Copeland, founder of the iconic New Wave band The Police. The metal opera, based on "Paradise Lost", was co-commissioned by the Mend... (02/24/2020)


Featuring the latest research, opportunities, and groundbreaking developments from CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health. Review theFriday Letter submission guidelines then share your story ideas via publichealth.pitt.edu/share-news or contact phcomm@pitt.edu. 
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McTigue among researchers collecting stories of COVID-19 patients in Story Booth project 

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 d... (08/19/2020)