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Why do COVID death rates seem to be falling? Derek Angus weighs in.

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NATURE - Critical-care physician Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) of the University of Pittsburgh says that his hospital’s statistics team also saw reductions over time. “Without question, we’ve noticed a drop in mortality,” says Angus. “All things being equal, patients have a better chance of getting out alive.”  

Gellad weighs in on implications of latest COVID-19 treatment and vaccine options

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NEW YORK TIMES - “It’s kind of the best times for these therapies to enter, because they can have an impact,” said HPM's Walid F. Gellad, who leads Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing. “It’s also the worst time because we don’t have enough doses, and it’s going to add to the backlog of testing.”  

CDC NIOSH's Response to PPE Challenges During COVID-19

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As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) has responded ot the unique personal protective equipment (PPE) challenges that have arisen during COVID-19. This presentation, with Maryann D'Alessandro, PhD, and John Powers, both of the NPPTL, provides an overview of their response to COVID-19 and effort... 

Pennsylvania State Response to COVID-19

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Wendy Braund, COVID-19 response director, Pennsylvania Department of Health, leads a conversation about the Pennsylvania Department of Health response to COVID-19, addressing the current situation and containment and mitigation efforts.   

Study hopes to follow area children for two decades. How has COVID-19 changed the plan?

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PUBLIC SOURCE -The Pittsburgh Study plans to follow 20,000 children in the region from birth to adulthood, putting a microscope on the relationships and resources that influence outcomes, such as infant mortality, childhood obesity, youth violence, and asthma prevalence, among others. Though the pandemic’s arrival complicated startup, co-director Elizabeth Miller, of BCHS and Pitt Medicine, found ways to leverage its community-partners network t... 

A teen created a TikTok to help those with disordered eating, BCHS's Beth Hoffman weighs in.

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BUZZFEED NEWS - While this trend can be profoundly helpful in destigmatizing EDs and mental illnesses, experts caution young people not to rely on TikTok as their primary therapy. "Eating disorders thrive in isolation, so eating with other people is often very helpful for those in recovery," added doctoral student Beth L. Hoffman (BCHS '19 '22) who's published studies about how disordered eating is impacted by social media. "I think videos like ... 

Maureen Lichtveld named as next Pitt Public Health dean

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PITTWIRE - Maureen Lichtveld, director of the Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, has been named dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health beginning January 1, 2021. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Lichtveld has nearly 40 years of experience in environmental public health. Her researc... 

Padiath lab receives donation for ADLD research

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Hugen's Padiath lab received a donation for their ongoing research on Autosomal Dominant Leukodystrophy (ADLD). The donation to the Leukodystrophy Research Fund stemmed from a GoFundMe fundraiser in memory of Nancy Chen, which raised a total of $17,285. ADLD is one of a group of genetic disorders called leukodystrophies. This condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is suffici... 

'Black Lives Matter' Without Black People?

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The SJAC leadership suggest this Inside Higher Ed article: "In order to openly and honestly discuss anti-Black racism, academic institutions, administrators, faculty members and students need to reckon with the lack of Black, Indigenous and people of color within their academic units."  

Achieving COVID-19 herd immunity through infection is dangerous, deadly, and might not even work

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THE CONVERSATION - White House advisers offer a “natural” approach to herd immunity as a way to reduce the need for public health control measures. BCHS chair Steven Albert asserts that this infection-based approach would almost certainly fail. Recklessly dropping social distancing and mask-wearing, reopening restaurants, and allowing large gatherings will overwhelm hospital systems and skyrocket mortality without producing the desired herd immu... 

Gilead’s Covid drug win could clog pipeline for other treatments

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BLOOMBERG LAW - The future of Covid-19 treatment research is cloudier after the FDA approved Gilead Sciences Inc.'s remdesivir. The approval solidifies the standard of care for hospitalized virus patients in the U.S. Shortages of remdesivir could slow down the development of other new Covid-19 drugs that might now be required to use it in their clinical trials. The approval doesn’t necessarily block other virus treatments from being authorized, ... 

Bacterial metabolism of dietary soy may lower risk factor for dementia

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NEUROSCIENCE NEWS - A metabolite produced following consumption of dietary soy may decrease a key risk factor for dementia--with the help of the right bacteria.  According to a discovery by EPI's  Akira Sekikaw a , elderly Japanese men and women who produce equol--a metabolite of dietary soy created by certain types of gut bacteria--display lower levels of white matter lesions within the brain.  

Study shows how HIV and cancer drugs accelerate cellular aging

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INSIDE LIVE CHANGING MEDICINE - Why do HIV patients tend to show premature signs of aging: cancer, cognitive diseases, osteoporosis? Is the virus itself is causing aging or the drugs being used to treat the virus? In a new study published in Nature Communications , doctoral student Samantha Sanford (EOH '21) found that HIV drugs hasten aging by blocking telomeres—the protective tips on the end of our chromosomes—from replenishing themselves. ... 

COVID-19 & Health Disparities

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As part of the Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, EPI doctoral candidate Chantele Mitchell Miland , and Pitt's director of health sciences diversity, equity, and inclusion, Mario Browne (BCHS '05), discuss COVID-19 and health disparities.  

The pandemic is rewriting the rules of science. But at what cost? Burke weighs in

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WASHINGTON POST - The pandemic has upended norms of the scientific process, from the way studies are funded through the publication of findings. As a result, modelers, like other scientists, have been scrambling to fund and ramp up their operations. The upshot is a lack of agility that has always haunted public health, said Donald S. Burke. “Things that aren’t yet a problem don’t get attention,” he said. “Yesterday’s problem is funded for a few ... 

Staying social can boost healthy ‘gray matter’ in aging brains

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US NEWS (HealthDay News) — Older adults who get together with friends, volunteer, or go to classes have healthier brains, which could help them ward off dementia, according to a new study led by postdoc Cynthia Fox of EPI. Being socially engaged—even moderately—with at least one relative or friend activates parts of the brain needed to recognize familiar faces and emotions, make decisions, and feel rewarded. "We need to do more research on the d... 

The opioid crisis didn’t disappear amid the pandemic. It still calls for urgent action.

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THE WASHINGTON POST - Despite the predominance of the coronavirus pandemic among national priorities, the paper's editorial board urges the dedication of public health funds and attention to the ongoing opioid crisis, citing data gathered by HPM's Hawre Jalal and EPI's Donald S. Burke which suggests that the 2018 decline in mortality traced to a short-term drop in the supply of a particularly deadly Chinese-made synthetic opioid, carfentanil, ra... 

Opresko selected for scientific leadership award

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EOH's Patricia Opresko is the 2020 recipient of the Merrill J. Egorin Excellence in Scientific Leadership Award.  This award honors a faculty member that exemplifies scientific passion and scholastic dedication. Patricia is recognized as an outstanding mentor, and for her exceptional leadership in cancer research, including her work with the Genome Stability Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.  

HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings during COVID-19

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As part of the Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, Mackey Friedman of IDM and BCHS joins IDM's Sarah Krier to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of people living with HIV including their beliefs and attitudes about their healthcare needs and experiences.  

Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS -  Food banks in the U.S. are on course for a preventable collision between record-setting food insecurity and lead-contaminated meat. Though hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to U.S. food banks, a lack of oversight could result in potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year according to a recent article by MPH student Samantha Totoni (EOH '21).  

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Q&A: Peter Salk on the Lessons Learned from Vaccine Development History 

Q&A: Peter Salk on the Lessons Learned from Vaccine Development History

Peter Salk was 11 years old when a University of Pittsburgh team led by his father, the late Jonas Salk, created the inactivated poliovirus vaccine. The day of the 1955 announcement that the vaccine was safe, effective and potent, “everything just went crazy,” he recalls. “There were so many calls ... (11/17/2020)
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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)


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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Pitt researchers find Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions led to earlier detection of cancer 

Pitt researchers find Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions led to earlier detection of cancer

TRIB LIVE - Findings from a research team led by HPM's Coleman Drake provide evidence that expanding insurance coverage is a potential avenue to improve cancer outcomes. “It’s really about getting people into the normal health care system rather than presenting at the ED (emergency department) or s... (11/12/2020)