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CDC awards PERU $3.5 million to establish suicide prevention program to for veterans in northwest Pa.

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ERIE NEWS - The CDC will award Pitt's Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) $700,000 in funding annually for the next five years to create the Northwest Pennsylvania Veteran Suicide Prevention Program, a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention, focusing especially on service members, veterans, and their families. Led by Jan Pringle (EPI '86), PERU employs several Pitt Public Health alumni in its various programs.  

Gellad criticizes how Science gets political as Trump touts experimental coronavirus drugs

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AXIOS - "We have an emergency use authorization that I want to get signed immediately," Trump said in a video Thursday. "The problem is every therapy for coronavirus has become politicized—every single therapy, and that's the last thing you want in a pandemic, so this is just next in line," said the Department of Health Policy and Management's  Walid Gellad , director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of P... 

Harm Reduction Approach: Implications for the COVID-19 Pandemic

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BCHS's Mary Hawk and Harvard's Julia Marcus introduce the harm reduction approach and describe how the principles can be applied to public health messaging during COVID-19. They discuss how to balance general uncertainty, concerns about what is best for population and personal health, and the tensions between collectivism and individualism.  

Frailty factor: How well you walk when you’re older may depend on one gene

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STUDY FINDS  – While many seniors try to keep frailty at bay through diet and exercise, a PItt study finds that who becomes infirm may come down to one gene. “Most people think about dopamine’s role in mobility in the context of Parkinson’s disease, but not in normal aging," says lead author EPI's Caterina Rosano, "We found that in older, frail adults, those who have a high-dopamine genotype are more likely to maintain a faster gait and may be ... 

'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials

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NEW YORK TIMES - Mistrust of vaccines runs deep in African-American communities. Against formidable odds, Fr. Paul Abernathy and his teams are trying to convince residents fo Pittsburgh's Black neighborhoods to volunteer for trials testing a COVID-19 shot. “The community health deputies have been instrumental in communicating about the vaccine registry in authentic ways,” said Elizabeth Miller of BCHS and Pitt Medicine, who coordinates outreach ... 

Burke and Baumann take filmmaking to the health sciences

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Jessica Burke and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) have created a new form of public health research called Collaborative Filmmaking. The six-step process engages its participants to create a detailed, multimedia form of study rarely seen in the field. Baumann said she knew Pitt was the right fit for her studies when she came across the work of  Jessica Burke , professor and associate chair in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Scienc... 

Global Responses to COVID-19

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Organized and moderated by Pitt Public Health's Global Health Student Association, a panel of researchers from around the world discusses critical questions around the current pandemic. Panelists in this intriguing discussion include Dr. Solomon F. Ofori-Acquah (Accra, Ghana), Dr. Jean Nachega (EPI; Capetown, South Africa), Dr. Andrew Martin (London, England), and our student moderator Bethany Flage (GHSA president).  

Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video)

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Freedom House Enterprises ambulance services was a pioneering program designed to be representative of the community it served (Pittsburgh's Hill District), provide a pathway for upward mobility, and address a severe disparity in pre-hospital care. The collaboration between Phil Hallen, Peter Safar, and James McCoy Jr., developed into a groundbreaking endeavor that shaped modern EMS.  

Nace: Nursing homes need more federal help for COVID-19 testing, PPE

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POST-GAZETTE – David Nace (EPI '95), UPMC Senior Communities, was one of two dozen geriatric care experts tapped by the Trump administration to draw up recommendations on improving care and preventing future outbreaks. He said we needed to be rapidly investing in testing and PPE, but it never happened. And the report didn't include the creation of a database to quickly reach top officials at each facility, which “makes no sense.”  

Pitt Public Health no longer requiring GRE for MPH, other programs

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Pitt Public Health is no longer requiring GRE scores for applicants to our MPH programs, recomitting to a long-held value of holistic admissions. We are committed to creating the best possible learning environment to educate our next generation of public health leaders and removing this barrier for our applicants allows us to build a richer and more inclusive group of future public health leaders.   

Roberts says Gov. Wolf’s restrictions saved many lives

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PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE - Nearly 8,000 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed in Pennsylvania. Had fewer restrictions been imposed, that toll likely would have been several times higher, said Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab. “It’s easy to project that there would be two to three times the deaths, at a minimum, with less social distancing.” His team developed a model to estimate the impacts of closings and reopenings.  

COVID-19 on campus

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Drs. John Williams and Margaret McDonald share an update on the current COVID conditions on campus and reflect on their insider experiences serving on Pitt’s Healthcare Advisory Group during this public health crisis.  

Van Panhuis discusses current vaccination trends

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WALLETHUB - EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis joins expert panel to discuss vaccination trends, safeguarding at-risk populations, and the media's role in educating the public.  “One important issue is that we need strong advocacy about the value of vaccination,” he states in response to the current anti-vaccination trend. “Also, using scientific evidence and good data can help to keep reminding people of the importance and possible threat of infectiou... 

BCHS alum joins staff at Decker College new rehab therapies program

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Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ’11) joined Binghamton University in November 2019 as a senior staff assistant for both Decker’s School of Rehabilitation Science, established the same year, and its Master of Public Health program.    

Edmond named CMO for WVU Health System

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Michael Edmond (IDM ’91) has been appointed as the new chief medical officer for the WVU Health System. He is currently serving as chief quality officer, associate chief medical officer, and clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa. Edmond will begin his new position in November.  

Angus named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation

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Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) named as associate vice chancellor for healthcare innovation. ​This new role will complement his recent appointment as UPMC’s chief health care innovation officer, and foster strategic linkages between the two organizations. Dr. Angus will work to stimulate the fusion of multiple disciplines and skills, blending expertise in clinical care delivery with organization science, decision psychology, machine learning, Bayesian... 

Reed explains what airborne virus means for reopening

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THE CONVERSATION - Respiratory scientist Douglas Reed, IDM and Pitt Med, examined studies that have shown how the virus has spread, including at a call center in South Korea, a restaurant in China, and a choir practice in Washington state. “The evidence strongly suggests that airborne transmission happens easily and is likely a significant driver of this pandemic. It must be taken seriously as people begin to venture back out into the world.”  

Van Panhuis on new, secretive data system shaping federal pandemic response

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CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY - “It is a big leap forward,” said EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis, who is working to get access to the platform for a group of 600 researchers. “They are making major progress in this pandemic,” but much of the data was designed with federal government users in mind, not academic researchers or the public. “It’s a bit disappointing,” he said. “Currently we have to invent that part of the system.”  

COVID-19 & Secondary Impacts

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The stay-at-home and social distancing COVID-19 mitigation orders drastically restricted people’s physical movements and access to businesses, causing myriad secondary impacts on the public’s health. Dr. Andrea Gielen discusses how the pandemic has affected injury risks due to changes in lifestyles and transportation. Dr. Christina Mair and BCHS PhD student Jessica Frankebeger share Allegheny County results from a survey addressing resident’s ro... 

Hernandez says experimental medicines for COVID-19 could help someday, but home runs not guaranteed

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WBHM - This proof-of concept study suggests that the strategy of blocking virus with antibodies holds promise. Inmaculada “Inma” Hernandez (HPM ’16), Pitt School of Pharmacy, is hopeful, but she doubts that these drugs will be a game-changer. “These drugs are so complex to produce, probably we will not have antibodies available for treating everybody who gets coronavirus. They’re probably going to be considerably expensive.”  

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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)