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Hernandez finds price of brand-name drugs has increased 3x faster than inflation

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90.5 WESA – Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM ’16) said what’s concerning is that discounts are often paid directly to insurers. This means people who are un- or under-insured generally don’t benefit from the markdowns. “This is probably increasing disparities in health care access…. We are not doing a good job of protecting patients against increases in co-pays, out-of-pocket costs and certainly those that don’t have insurance.”  

What is epidemiology? Kuller explains.

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LIVE SCIENCE – Epidemiologists are disease detectives who save lives by studying and preventing the spread of the worst diseases. EPI’s professor emeritus Lewis Kuller was asked to clarify: “Epidemiology is a tool to understand the distribution of disease in populations, and the factors that lead to higher or lower rates of disease and ways of effectively preventing disease.”  

Van Panhuis turns rapid Coronavirus data sharing into sustainable research infrastructure

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Many of the 300 MIDAS members are conducting modeling research on COVID-19 and are contributing to an extraordinary international collection of data and information regarding the outbreak. “It’s exciting and gratifying to be able to do something useful to help with this pandemic,” said EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis. “We’re playing a crucial role in bringing the infectious disease modeling research community together to efficiently share information.... 

Burke on how contagious the new coronavirus is compared to flu and SARS

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NEWSWEEK - Donald Burke, professor of health science and policy, said he was concerned that the reproduction number (RO) may be higher than originally estimated. The U.S. case count has been increasing exponentially. If the time between successive cases in the chain of transmission is four days, then the RO would have to be 3 to 4 to sustain this rate. “But the case count is confounded because case testing and reporting are increasing, and that ... 

Burke on what we can learn about coronavirus from National Geographic author David Quammen’s brilliant book ‘Spillover’

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THE HILL - Epidemiologist Donald Burke emphasized the need to improve the scientific basis to improve readiness: the understanding of which virus groups to watch, the field capabilities to detect spillovers in remote places before they become regional outbreaks, the organizational capacities to control outbreaks before they become pandemics, plus the laboratory tools and skills to recognize known viruses speedily, to characterize new viruses alm... 

Albert on how Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave policy might help slow the spread of coronavirus

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90.5 WESA - A 2013 Pitt study simulating flu transmissions found that universal access to paid sick leave reduced workplace flu infections by 6 percent. BCHS’ Steven Albert estimated that about 12 percent of flu transmissions occur in the workplace, largely when people come to work feeling sick. He said the coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of having stronger public health policies that include paid sick leave.  

Boggs helps Reddit‘s coronavirus community become a destination

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NBC NEWS – In January when Emerson Boggs (IDM PhD candidate) began moderating a small Reddit community dedicated to a new coronavirus in China, she had no idea that two months later the message board would grow to more than 1.2 million members. Daily Boggs and her colleagues process thousands of comments and posts, making sure posts are scientifically accurate. "The pace of the outbreak has really shown the deficiencies of traditional outbreak r... 

IDM alum Taylor Poston recognized for research and practice

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Congratulations to doctoral alumnus Taylor Poston (IDM '17). His undergraduate institution, Francis Marion University, honored him with their Professional Industry Award, presented annually to a graduate who serves as a practitioner or researcher in the natural or behavioral sciences, including fields like ecological and environmental sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and applied natural science. View video interview.  

Burke responds: Can you get coronavirus twice?

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NEWSWEEK - Experts said that they can’t be certain, based on the limited data there is on SARS-CoV-2 (the germ which causes COVID-19 and shouldn’t be confused with the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus). Donald Burke, professor of health science and policy, said he wasn’t sure, but as SARS-CoV-2 has the same kind of error correction molecular machinery as the virus that causes SARS, “its mutation rate will be slower.”  

Big pharma shied away from gene therapy for years. Gellad talks about how academia picked up the slack.

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BIOPHARMA DIVE - HPM’s Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at Pitt, said, "The paper, I think, informs discussions about how high prices really need to be in order to encourage private risk taking for gene therapies—it may be a different number than for other drugs that have less late stage involvement by academia and NIH.”  

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... 

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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)


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

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

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 symp... (07/21/2020)