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Miljkovic on the obesity puzzle: Why the disease defies efforts to control it

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PITTSBURGH QUARTERLY - “It’s a disease with many risk factors that not many people know about. It’s not just about a person not exercising,” said EPI's Iva Miljkovic. “People can have a normal BMI, but they have a lot of fat where it’s not supposed to be and we don’t do anything about it in clinical practice. When you go to the doctor ... no one measures your waist. That would be the most simple way to tell if someone was at high risk.”  

Herpes virus infects billions of people worldwide. Rinaldo explains why there isn’t a vaccine yet.

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NBC NEWS – IDM's Charles Rinaldo said that many have tried to come up with vaccines that use two or three proteins out of the approximately 75 that make up the virus. Those would be safe, but have not protected well. Another approach has been to use a weakened form of the whole virus. In that attenuated, its replication capacity is weakened but it’s not as safe. These failures “are why this is such a monster.”  

Gellad on how the info war over chloroquine has slowed Covid-19 science

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WIRED – No one really knows if the malarial drug helps fight Covid-19, and an information war is hindering the struggle to find out. Unorthodox research methods and a seeming rush to publication, or even prepublication, is muddiing the situation. Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, says a French study was low quality in terms of trial design and evidence of whether it works or not.  

Gellad concerned that government researchers changed metric to measure coronavirus drug remdesivir during clinical trial

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WASHINGTON POST – “It raises a lot of flags, and it requires a lot of answers,” said HPM’s Walid F. Gellad who also serves as head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, “especially when people start saying it’s become the standard of care, and all we saw was a news release in a trial with an outcome that was changed two weeks ago. It really is striking.”  

Garcia-Bates assists Medical Reserve Corps with COVID-19 initiatives

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IDM’s Tatiana Garcia-Bates signed up to volunteer through the Allegheny County Health Department for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), where she instructed a local nursing center's staff on proper N-95 respirator fit.  

Burke explains the need for Pa. to set benchmarks for testing, contact tracing

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THE DAILY ITEM – EPI’s Don Burke said the challenge for public health officials in setting benchmarks is that it’s still not well understood what percentage of the population shows no symptoms when they’re infected with the coronavirus. How widely the population should be tested is key. “We are just beginning to get a clear view of the magnitude of the spread,” Burke said.  

‘Will my county reopen soon?’ Roberts describes factors going into ‘red’ to ‘yellow’ decision

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WTAE - HPM’s Mark Roberts said, “We don’t really know how many people have been sick, or have gotten infected and not gotten sick. Since there can be asymptomatic carriers, we need to ramp up testing to determine which counties can reopen. He’ll be looking closely at states that have eased stay-at-home restrictions to see what impact, if any, a limited reopening has.  

Angus says disorganized research slows discovery of COVID-19 treatments

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NPR - Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92) says the problem is that our system rewards tribalism, with insufficient motivation for effective collaboration. He's leading a fast-track remap trial for COVID-19, part of an international effort involving hundreds of investigators. He has lots of opinions about which drugs might work best, but he'd rather focus on a trial design that can be as modular as possible and let as many people in as possible.  

Salunke accepted into Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Connecticut

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Graduating master's student in IDM's community practice track Rajeev Salunke (IDM '20) has been accepted into the internal medicine residency program at the University of Connecticut. Hear directly from Rajeev about his background, his experiences at Pitt Public Health, and his aspirations for the future.   

Gellad agrees that we’re repeating one of the worst mistakes of the Ebola outbreak in the hunt for a coronavirus cure

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BUSINESS INSIDER - By the time global health groups agreed on a testing strategy for Ebola, the epidemic had waned and there weren’t enough people to test. HPM’s Walid Gellad, director of Pitt’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, said it’s a legitimate worry that the torrent of studies will compete for the same pool of patients, making it harder to find enough people to test all the drugs.  

Chinese biotech reports COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, but Reed is cautious

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SCIENCE - IDM's Douglas Reed, who is developing and testing COVID-19 vaccines in monkey studies, says the number of animals was too small to yield statistically significant results. His team also has a manuscript in preparation that raises concerns about the way the Sinovac team grew the stock of novel coronavirus used to challenge the animals: It may have caused changes that make it less reflective of the ones that infect humans.  

Hidden outbreaks spread through U.S. cities far earlier than we knew

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NEW YORK TIMES - EPI’s Donald Burke said, “Even with these corrections, it’s still on the high side — this is higher than I would have expected.” He added that, whatever the precise scale of the initial outbreak, that same dynamic will accelerate once measures to mitigate the spread are relaxed without other public health measures in place. “When you take away social distancing, everything will go right through the roof.”  

Using 'probable' COVID-19 cases and deaths in data helps response, says Haggerty

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POST-GAZETTE - By counting probable cases and deaths, not just confirmed ones, “the overall sensitivity of the surveillance system is enhanced,” said EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. She interviews people who have had contact with COVID-19 patients to determine if they should be considered probable cases. “By casting a wider net you catch more cases. And it gives us a greater understanding of the full impact” of the disease on the community.  

Fabisiak on why American Lung Association report claims climate change will make it harder to protect health

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90.5 WESA – EOH’s James Fabisiak said the rising ozone levels in this report stood out to him since they had fallen in previous reports. Ozone doesn’t come from a single source, and it’s aggravated by higher temperatures. “Therefore, climate change becomes a particular—at least, good—candidate as for why you might be seeing that particular change.”  

Contact tracing: Medical detectives like Haggerty could help open economy

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PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES – While high numbers have made state-level contact tracing impossible, Allegheny County has managed it by bringing in Pitt health science students and faculty to assist, including EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. “We identify potentially exposed persons within the community so that we can reduce community spread,” she said. “I think that’s played a role in the success of managing and combatting COVID-19” in the region.  

HPM students participate in UAB Case Competition

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Three students from the Department of Health Policy and Management, Brandon Trumbull (HPM ’19), Karl Gibson (HPM ’19), and Emily Joseph (HPM ’20), participated in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health Administration Case Competition in February 2019.  

HPM students place in top 16 in Cleveland Clinic Case Competition

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The Cleveland Clinic held its 6 th MBA/MHA Case Competition in April 2019. Teams of graduate students submitted cases about growth strategy recommendations for the Cleveland Clinic + Oscar Health product in mid-February, hoping to earn a spot amongst the top 16 teams  

HPM students take home second place at Penn State University Health Care Management Case Competition

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Nolan Cianci (HPM ’21), Mara Menk (HPM ’22), and Devin Strynkowski (HPM ’21), coached by MPH program director and HPM faculty member Elizabeth Van Nostrand, placed 2 nd in the Penn State University Health Care Management Case Competition  

Maseru on Black History Month in Pittsburgh

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THE PITTSBURGH STUDY - Center for Health Equity Director Noble Maseru asks, "What can we Pittsburghers do to achieve an inclusive and socially equitable city? in the first case, we can express our preference for behavior that reflects our views on social justice in the ballot box - so vote!"  


Haggerty on driving the open roads in a pandemic

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “A good first step is to check the CDC website before you travel because things are rapidly changing,” advised EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. “There is evidence that the virus can be viable for hours or days on surfaces, so wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you wipe down the steering wheel, it is just an extra precaution that can help protect you.”  

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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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Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say 

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get random... (09/02/2020)