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Gellad says the FDA ‘grossly misrepresented’ plasma data

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NEW YORK TIMES – Many experts were bewildered about where a key statistic came from. HPM's Walid Gellad, who leads Pitt’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, said, “For the first time ever, I feel like official people in communications and people at the F.D.A. grossly misrepresented data about a therapy.” Millions will rely on the FDA' judgement. “That’s a problem if they’re starting to exaggerate data.”  

Innovation Institute reports record number of invention disclosures, despite pandemic

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PITTWIRE - From swimming devices to rare disease gene therapies, Pitt inventors never stop: The Innovation Institute reported a record 394 invention disclosures for last fiscal year, and Director Evan Facher (HUGEN '97) says another robust year is ahead.  

PSI students volunteer for raccoon rabies baiting

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PSI students Matt Duespohl (IDM ‘20) and Annette Curry (IDM ’21) had the opportunity to volunteer for the annual oral rabies baiting that occurred the first week of August in southwestern Pennsylvania. Since 2001, ACHD has partnered with the USDA Wildlife Services each summer to distribute hundreds of thousands of oral raccoon rabies vaccine baits across Allegheny County by hand. To learn more about how the program impacts local wildlife from pr... 

Reichbaum’s WalkWorks program adds three new Pennsylvania community partners

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TRI-COUNTY INDEPENDENT - “These communities have demonstrated their commitment to expanding opportunities for physical activity in the built environment,” said Carol Reichbaum, director of WalkWorks in Pitt Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice. “Each will engage community members to assist with the identification of a 1- to 2-mile walking route, which will be used by residents of and visitors to the area.”  

Angus has new questions about remdesivir COVID-19 efficacy

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REUTERS - HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS '92) and Pitt's Erin McCreary coauthored a study editorial raising questions about whether some patients get more benefit from remdesivir than others and whether it matters if patients receive remdesivir and steroids together. It is still possible that remdesivir could improve recovery for millions of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, they added, but more research is needed before that becomes clear.  

McTigue among researchers collecting stories of COVID-19 patients in Story Booth project

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TRIB LIVE - Story Booth dates back to 2016 and features stories of patients with ailments from cancer to organ transplantation. "In the long term, we think that these kinds of studies may be particularly well-suited to provide the data that patients and their health care teams need to make better decisions," said Division of Internal Medicine's Kathleen McTigue, also an associate professor of epidemiology.   

Egan finds short-term PrEP use protects at-risk men on vacation

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MEDICAL XPRESS - "We started this as a feasibility study to see if we could identify barriers to short-term PrEP use and make adjustments. But we were excited when we got the results and discovered that almost all the participants were adherent to the point of protection against HIV," said BCHS’ James Egan (BCHS '14). "This gives us a promising strategy to pursue in engaging at-risk men in HIV prevention efforts that work for them."  

Goldstein says EPA should consider COVID-19 for its standards

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – Dean Emeritus Bernard Goldstein asserts that the agency has ignored a Clean Air Act mandate as well as the congressional specification of what factors should be considered in setting an “adequate margin of safety” for air quality impact. The proposal fails to consider factors affecting sensitive populations in the pandemic, including the elderly and those with pre-existing lung and heart disease.  

Miller finds homophobic men who display traits of toxic masculinity are more likely to be bullies

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DAILY MAIL - “There has been a lot of discussion around harmful masculinities in the media and in the research community,” said study author and medical anthropologist Elizabeth Miller, BCHS faculty and chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Pitt Medicine. However, she added, “no one has agreed on a standardized way to measure the concept.”  

Telemedicine is booming — but Roberts says many still face huge barriers to virtual care

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STAT - “The temporary reform due to Covid allowed telemedicine visits from a patient’s home, but it presumed that patients had access to the technology to engage in those visits,” said HPM’s Eric Roberts, paper co-author. “We’re showing that there’s a substantial number of Medicare beneficiaries who lack access to that technology… a very vulnerable population both in terms of their health profile and their economic profile.”  

How to organize science in an emergency? Gellad has slammed U.S. leadership.

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SLATE – Since January, researchers hoping to fight COVID-19 have designed a stunning 1,200 clinical trials, but the effort has been marked by disorder and disorganization, with huge financial resources wasted. Applying history lessons to today, HPM’s Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, slammed U.S. leadership for failing to set a clear clinical trial agenda.  

Angus says “Covid vaccine shortages are very likely. Without a plan, it will be a feeding frenzy.”

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THE TELEGRAPH - Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of critical care medicine and HPM distinguished professor, says hard conversations about who should be prioritized will be needed both within and between countries. It might be decided that frontline workers should be at the head of the queue, but you could say that minorities who have a disproportionate burden of the disease should have a chance. You must be transparent about your principles of fair... 

Pitt Public Health welcomes students with opera about Semmelweis challenge of established medical profession

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TRIB LIVE – Semmelweis’ life story is both inspiring and tragic. He was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures when “childbed fever” deaths were common if births were attended by physicians rather than midwives. The composer sees parallels between then and our pandemic now. The haunting work was created by American composer Raymond J. Lustig, Irish-American librettist Matthew Doherty and Hungarian director Martin Boross.  

Study Asserts School Closures in the Spring Saved Lives, but Donohue has questions

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NEW YORK TIMES - “We really can’t isolate the impact of school closures from other interventions,” said HPM’s Julie Donohue. “I do worry that these large estimates of the effect of school closures will lead people to give up because it is going to be challenging to open schools. I do worry that some districts will look at these numbers and say, well, it’s just too hard and it’s not safe to reopen.”  

Burke talks about how Pittsburgh’s virus success fizzled in crowded bars, eateries

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AP – Epidemiologist Donald S. Burke said a preliminary review of mobility data shows the recent spike is consistent with an outbreak fueled by a narrow demographic such as younger people at bars and restaurants. As a second tier of hot-spot cities, Pittsburgh is still fertile ground for the virus. “The real question is are we going to overwhelm the hospital capacity in our region? Are we going to have the number of ICU beds and ventilators?”  

Gary-Webb testifies at PA Democratic Health Committee on Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition

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EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb presented testimony on COVID-19 disparities and our equity response at the July 15 House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on COVID-19 Health Disparities, impressing Representative Stephen Kinsey who wants to follow-up with Gary-Webb to connect the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh groups and using the Pittsburgh group as a model for others.   

Albert on the COVID-19 testing shortage; Allegheny County residents share difficulties getting timely results

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PUBLIC SOURCE – BCHS’ Steven Albert believes the Allegheny County Health Department has done a great job despite a meager federal response and a decades-long disinvestment in public health. He said when our health department says to stay home if you have a problem but only get a test if you’re symptomatic, that shows we don’t have the testing apparatus we need. If it takes a week to get test results, we’re failing miserably.  

Why are minorities getting hit harder by COVID-19? Partly because of systemic racism, says Gary-Webb

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THE MORNING CALL - EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb, member of the Pittsburgh Black Covid-19 Equity Coalition, said there is a lack of robust and accessible testing, and that testing sites are not concentrated in communities of color. “We know that there’s disproportionate impacts, so we really think interventions now are desperately needed,” she said. “The narrative is clear, so now we really need to take action.”  

Goldstein says EPA must consider COVID-19 when setting air pollutant standards

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THE HILL - EOH's Bernard Goldstein contributed an op-ed to The Hill urging the EPA to consider COVID-19 when setting air pollutant standards.  ​"With so many Americans at risk," he says, "the EPA needs to withdraw its proposed particulate standards and seriously consider the impact of COVID-19 on the adequacy of the margin of safety required for air pollutant standards. Otherwise, we will be condemned to wait until the next review at least fiv... 

Gender Equity Commission report calls for swift action on inequities in Pittsburgh

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PUBLIC SOURCE - A new Gender Equity Commission report lists 11 recommended actions to address gender and racial disparities in Pittsburgh.Gender and race are at the center of its recommendations but the report also mentions how people who are differently abled, elderly or trans, for example, can feel discrimination more acutely. India Hunter (BCHS '19) voiced her concerns. "We, as a city, we’re really good at making a lot of documents and talkin... 

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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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"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19 

"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19

USA TODAY - Jonas Salk’s vaccine helped wipe polio from most of the world, something that many people hope will happen with the coronavirus vaccine. However, IDM's Dr. Peter Salk warns eradicating polio from the U.S. was a long and difficult journey, and he doesn’t expect eliminating COVID-19 will ... (12/29/2020)