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IDM alum Henning on Why COVID-19 is not the flu, and why we should be very concerned

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - What can you do when faced with a deadly pandemic? Pitt Public Health alumna and Pitt-Johnstown professor Jill Henning (IDM '08) offers: You can socially distance yourself. You may get sick and be OK, but your elderly neighbor may not have it so lucky. Stay home. Wash your hands regularly.  

2020 Best Oral Presentation - Tao Sun

Congratulations to doctoral candidate Tao Sun (BIOS '20) who was awarded Best Oral Presentation at the annual Biostatistics Research Day on February 27 for his work on "GWAS-based Deep Learning for Survival Prediction.”   

Rinaldo helps with coronavirus test development and launch

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UPMC – A new test for COVID-19 was created by a virology team including Charles Rinaldo, chair and professor of infectious diseases and microbiology and director of the UPMC Clinical Virology Laboratory. The health system plans to increase lab capacity and open testing sites around the state. The test follows U.S. CDC guidelines and was validated under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments program of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid ... 

Biostats student wins best presentation award

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Masters student Eli Lovelace (BIOS '20) won the Best Presentation award in local Kaggle Competition using the web-based data repository. The Pittsburgh Data Science Meetup Group hosted a Kaggle Competition on February 18, awarding prizes in two categories: most accurate model and best presentation. Lovelace won first place in the best presentation category.  

BIOS's Buchanich awarded contract with PA Department of Health

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Jeanine Buchanich has been awarded a 3 year $1.2 million contract with the PA Department of Health to evaluate the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program as part of the CDC’s Overdose Data to Action cooperative agreement. Evaluations will cover the impact of continuing medical education, first responder training, academic detailing, public service announcements and media campaigns, and overdose fatality review, among others.   

Wenzel on the pandemic and EOH response

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"I'm anxious, like many of us. Uncertainty is having a big impact on our society. So the virus itself, the medical responses to it, whether overwhelmed or not, and then the psycho-socioeconomic impact, in some variation of percentages, are likely to have longterm impact on our society as we know it. Hopefully, some will be good! We are all in the game. Our mutual efforst are critical. Do away with the free market mentality for awhile," says EOH ... 

UPMC Health Plan removes barriers to coronavirus testing

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To ensure patients and members receive timely diagnosis and treatment, UPMC Health Plan will waive any applicable deductibles, copayments or other cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing when ordered by a member’s treating medical provider. Members with symptoms or suspected exposure to COVID-19 should immediately contact their health care provider or request a live, remote telehealth consultation available through our 24/7 UPMC AnywhereCare app.  ... 

Jenn Andrews (MHA ’20), Vizient, Inc. Fellow

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In summer 2020, I will be entering into a fellowship position in downtown Chicago with Vizient, Inc., the nation’s leading healthcare performance improvement company. Vizient has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” (Modern Healthcare) and among “America’s Best Management Consulting Firms” (Forbes). I'm drawn by the emphasis on healthcare informatics & analytics, career development, and the breadth of projects.  

Hershey explains what ‘social distancing’ actually means

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TRIB LIVE - “The goal (of social distancing) is to stop or slow the spread of infectious disease,” said HPM’s Tina Hershey. Doing so, she said, slows the spread while other public health measures have time to work. “In restricting your own movements, you are going to reduce your individual risk, but you’re also reducing the risk of others who are more vulnerable,” she said.  

HUGEN alumnus Dan Handley appointed to drug discovery board of directors

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GLOBE NEWSWIRE - Predictive Oncology Inc., an AI-driven discovery services company providing predictive models of tumor drug response to improve clinical outcomes for patients, today announced the unanimous appointment of doctoral alumnus Daniel Handley (HUGEN '08) to its Board of Directors.  Handley serves as professor and director of the Clinical and Translational Genome Research Institute at the Southern California University of Health Scienc... 

Human genetics alumna honored with Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award

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Yvette Conley (Hugen '93, '99) was recognized with a 2020 Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award in the senior scholar category for the role she played in shaping the interface between genomics and nursing. A leader in molecular genetics, Conley was the first geneticist appointed in a nursing school to infuse genomics into nursing sciences. She serves as professor and vice chair for research in Pitt's School of Nursing and was previously reco... 

Totoni and Fabisiak examine lead contamination in hunted meat

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS - MPH student Samantha Totoni (EOH '21), associate professor James Fabisiak, and BCHS's Martha Ann Terry look into lead contamination in hunted meat. Despite the mounting concerns over lead exposure from wild game, lead ammunition use continues as hunters and their families remain unaware or deeply mistrustful of the dangers. Who’s warning hunters and their families?  

Hulsey weighs in on concerns about bias in county’s automated decision-making tools

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WESA - Local residents voiced trepidation at a meeting in Homewood about the use of algorithms to guide criminal justice, law enforcement, and child welfare decisions. But left to their own devices, judges could be more arbitrary, countered University of Pittsburgh Public Health Professor Eric Hulsey (BCHS ’08). “On the flip side, you could use [algorithms] to take away that power from them and say, ‘No, you don’t get full discretion.’”  

MMPH alumna recognized for innovation in community nursing

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PITT NURSE MAGAZINE - Claudia Kregg-Byers RN, MPH (MMPH ’14), PhD teaches her senior students in Pitt Nursing’s Department of Health and Community Systems that health doesn’t begin and end at the bedside but encompasses where someone comes from—a whole confluence of communal and individual factors: environment, county, neighborhood, home, culture, standard of living, education, socioeconomic status, friendships, family, support systems.   

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.  

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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)
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Parker elected Hastings Center fellow 

Parker elected Hastings Center fellow

PITTWIRE - HUGEN's Lisa Parker was recently elected fellow to The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of research scholars studying ethical questions in medicine, science and technology that help inform policy, practice and public understanding. Parker, along with Robert Arnold o... (02/05/2020)


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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‘Desperation science’ slows the hunt for coronavirus drugs, but Angus is speeding it up 

‘Desperation science’ slows the hunt for coronavirus drugs, but Angus is speeding it up

AP NEWS - HPM’s Derek Angus, UPMC’s critical care chief, is using an innovative study using artificial intelligence to help pick treatments. Forty regional hospitals joined more from the United Kingdom to randomly assign patients to one of dozens of possible treatments, adapting treatments based on... (07/08/2020)