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Drs. Dimitrov and Mellors progress in COVID-19 research using monoclonal antibody libraries

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TIMES OBSERVER - Pitt scientists have discovered the fastest way to identify potent, neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. When Chinese scientists published the virus' genetic sequence January, Dimitrov’s team rapidly generated the virus’s receptor binding domain-part of the spike protein that attaches to human cells-and used it as “bait” to pan their multiple libraries of over 1 trillion human antibodies built over preced... 

Disinformation & Misinformation: Politics, Pandemics & Public Health

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In the final fall session of Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, Jaime Sidani and Michael Colaresi join BCHS doctoral student Beth Hoffman to discuss ways that public health can address dis/misinformation in the era of COVID-19, with a particular focus on implications for COVID-19 vaccine acceptance.  

Why are so many Black women still dying in childbirth?

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INDEPENDENT - In the U.K., Black women are five times more likey to die in pregnancy, childbirth, or in the postpartum period, compared to their white counterparts. In the U.S. there are similar racial disparities in its maternal deaths with black and indigenous Americans being two to three times as likely to die of pregnancy-related causes. The data confirms what black women have known for decades; pregnancy is at best challenging and at worst ... 

How the CDC and others are failing Black women during childbirth

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STAT - The alarming number of deaths of Black women during childbirth and soon afterward once gained little national attention. That changed, partly because of the high-profile deaths of Dr. Sharon Irving and Kira Johnson, and the delayed response to Serena Williams' request for treatment of a post-delivery complication. In each of those cases, the woman or her family asked for help with one of more known warning signs of complications, like sev... 

Why are Black women at such high risk of dying from pregnancy complications?

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AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS - Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's partly why the overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths has climbed over the past two decades, making the maternal mortality rate in the United States the worst in any industrialized country, according to an analysis published in The Lancet.  

America is Failing its Black Mothers

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HARVARD MAGAZINE - Following decades of decline, maternal deaths began to rise in the United States around 1990—a significant departure from the world’s other affluent countries. By 2013, rates had more than doubled. The CDC now estimates that 700 to 900 new and expectant mothers die in the U.S. each year, and an additional 500,000 women experience life-threatening postpartum complications. More than half of these deaths and near deaths are from... 

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

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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 some other environment when things go wrong,” Drake said. “It allows people to access preventive health care.”  

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. ... 

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Research aims to understand, curb misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines 

Research aims to understand, curb misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines

PITTWIRE - Fueled by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pitt researchers are studying and combating false online information about vaccines. “Vaccines are often the victim of their own success,” said BCHS doctoral student Beth Hoffman, a research assistant at the Center for Research o... (01/20/2021)
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Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021 

Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021

PITTWIRE — Optimism is hardwired in most humans, says public health professor Steve Albert. If you don’t feel like you’re one of them right now, here are three perspectives on why, despite all that 2020 brought us, things are looking brighter. (12/16/2020)
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Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form 

Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form

THE CONVERSATION - Until very recently, geneticists had virtually no understanding of which parts of our DNA were linked to even the most basic aspects of facial appearance. HUGEN's John R. Shaffer and Pitt’s Seth M. Weinberg explore questions like: Can we reliably predict a person’s face from thei... (12/11/2020)


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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FDA resists pressure to tweak vaccine dosages to stretch supply 

FDA resists pressure to tweak vaccine dosages to stretch supply

CENTRE DAILY TIMES—The top U.S. drug regulator is resisting calls to tinker with how COVID-19 vaccines are administered. HPM's Walid Gellad,  who supports stretching out the time between shots, anticipates states ramping up over the next week or two to reach people beyond front-line health care wor... (01/06/2021)