Faculty Profiles & Research News

Dean Lichtveld exemplifies the power of prevention

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After receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at an interprofessional clinic on campus, Dean Maureen Lichtveld celebrated by posing with a life-sized picture of Jonas Salk – a symbol of the importance of vaccines and one of the core principles of public health: prevention. Lichtveld shares her experience in an effort to encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect our communities, get back to campus, and back to our lives.   

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

New research from Roberts shows Medicare and Medicaid fail Americans just above the poverty line

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ACADEMIC TIMES - Americans who receive Medicare but make slightly too much money to qualify for supplemental coverage from Medicaid spend thousands more dollars on out-of-pocket medical expenses while receiving fewer outpatient services and prescriptions than people covered by both programs, according to new research by HPM's Eric Roberts and colleagues.   

Burke: First COVID-19 vaccine shot just as effective as the second

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered to curb the spread of the disease require two shots for full protection, but some experts say one shot may be enough, at least for now. "As soon as I saw the reports on the Moderna and Pfizer applications for emergency use authorization, I saw both had striking effectiveness," said EPI's Donald Burke.   

Pitt Public Health team wins third place at Morningside International Global Health Case Competition

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In collaboration with the Center for Global Health, Pitt held its first-ever Global Health Case Competition last fall. Pitt supported the winning team from that competition to enter Emory University's Morningside International Global Health Case Competition. Emily Crisan (BCHS '24) joined five undergraduate students and faculty mentor HPM's Elizabeth Van Nostrand and won third place out of 53 teams from across the U.S. for their plan and strateg... 

Bodnar receives SER Carol J. Hogue Mid-Career Award

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Congratulations to EPI's Lisa Bodnar for receiving the 2021 Society for Epidemiologic Research Carol J. Rowland Hogue Award recognizing a mid-career scientist who has made an exceptional contribution to the practice of epidemiology. Hear from the 2021 awardees at the SER 2021 Virtual Conference June 23-25.   

Dean Lichtveld looks to make science work for Pittsburgh communities

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U TIMES - "My motto is always 'Making science work for communities," said Dean Maureen Lichtveld. So her top goal for the school is to increase student and faculty connections to the community and its public health concerns. Another priority is precision public health – an interdisciplinary practice to tackling community-based problems with community-based assets. "We will go to the community and address…public health threats."   

Marques among researchers looking for thousands of participants for COVID-19 study

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UPMC - "Excuse me, are you willing to answer a few survey questions about your experience with COVID-19? Will you provide a blood sample and a nasal swab to test for coronavirus?" Pitt is one of 15 sites nationwide involved in the COMPASS study that will survey residents around the Pittsburgh area to learn who has antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.   

Roberts on whether the U.S. is entering a fourth wave of COVID-19

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TIME - Public health experts are worried that the country is headed for a fourth major spike. There's good reason to think this one might be less disastrous than the previous three. HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab, points to the relatively small uptick in deaths as a sign that prioritizing high-risk people for vaccination may be resulting in fewer fatalities even as cases increase.   

Gary-Webb, Baumann featured in new book The Science of Health Disparities Research

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NIMHD - The Science of Health Disparities Research is an in-depth volume for comprehensive information on conducting clinical and translational health disparities studies and features EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb and BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) authored the chapter "Racial/Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Other Social Determinants."   

Albert says without a ride, many in need have no shot at coronavirus vaccine

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WASHINGTON POST - One of the biggest challenges for state and local officials has been getting vaccines to homebound older adults, said BCHS Chair Steven Albert. "This is an invisible population. They're not like long-term care residents in nursing homes. They are very elderly and frail and they live at home and are an afterthought, in some cases."  

El Khoudary finds abdominal fat gain tied to heart disease risk in menopause

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UPMC - Women who experience an accelerated accumulation of abdominal fat during menopause are at greater risk of heart disease, even if their weight stays steady, according to research published in the journal Menopause. "We need to shift gears on how we think about heart disease risk in women, particularly as they approach and go through menopause," said EPI's Samar El Khoudary, senior author.   

Zika-related adverse outcomes in a cohort of pregnant women with rash in Pernambuco, Brazil

Multiple authors on behalf of the Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group, including IDM's Ernesto Marques, found the frequency of microcephaly in their results is consistent with previous studies. In addition, as children were evaluated at a later age and repeatedly by different groups of specialists our findings provide new insight into the absolute risk of more specific abnormalities, especially those more likely to be persistent, and suggest th... 

Wenzel chosen as American Thoracic Society's Amberson Lecturer

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EOH Chair Sally Wenzel has been chosen to be the American Thoracic Society 2021 Amberson Lecturer at this year's ATS Conference May 14-19. The Amberson Lecture recognizes exemplary professionalism, collegiality, and citizenship through mentorship and leadership in the ATS community and the chosen lecturer is an individual with a career of major lifetime contributions to clinical or basic pulmonary research and/or clinical practice.  

Pitt Public Health faculty, staff, and students volunteer for vaccine rollout efforts

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ACHD - Our faculty, staff, and students are volunteering in both clinical and non-clinical roles in partnership with the Allegheny County Health Department, community organizations, and other Pitt Health Sciences volunteers as additional points of dispensing are opening and dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines increases.   

Drake on increased federal aid to combat the opioid epidemic

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PGH POST GAZETTE – An increase in federal aid means Pennsylvania has more money to spend on the opioid crisis and with fewer restrictions. HPM's Coleman Drake says easing access to medicine is an important part of continuing to make headway, noting that these benefits have been evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. "I suspect we’ll find that these changes have some positive effects, and I hope the administration doesn’t close the spigot.”  

Frank receives Alumni Award from Pitt School of Education

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IDM's Linda Frank received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Pitt's School of Education for exceptional professional achievement, public service to the advancement of the educational field, and a commitment to the continued success of the school and the University. Award recipients will be honored at a virtual ceremony on March 25 at 5:30. Congratulations!   

Albert on Another COVID-19 Challenge: Vaccinating the Homebound

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AARP - "It's catch-as-catch-can," says BCHS Chair Steven Albert about efforts to get vaccinations to the estimated 2 million older adults in the U.S. who are unable to leave their homes for health reasons. "It really is not as clear or rational as it should be."   

Costacou - Type 1 diabetes onset before menarche shortens reproductive window

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HEALIO - "Studies have provided discrepant findings on the issue of early menopause in women with type 1 diabetes," said EPI's Tina Costacou. "Our results suggest that the discrepancies may relate to whether the type 1 diabetes diagnosis precedes menarche or not, something that previous investigations did not examine."   

Discarded drugs: a wasteful and costly problem that requires whole-of-government approaches

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STAT FIRST OPINION —  HPM chair Julie Donohue and National Academies colleagues advocate for a “whole of government” approach to reforming the biopharmaceutical supply chain: Drug developers, manufacturers, clinicians, payers, and policymakers should focus on reducing system inefficiencies in drug development, delivery, and payment that result in discarded drugs, rather than on trying to recover the financial worth of the unused portion.  

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Research Videos

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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Health Care Workers In Underserved Communities Get Vaccine To Build Trust 

COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Health Care Workers In Underserved Communities Get Vaccine To Build Trust

WDKA CBS NEWS —  In a multipronged effort to prioritize the biggest impact among Phase 1A groups, UPMC vaccinated community advocates  to fight vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable, often minority, populations, where COVID-19 has had a disproportionately terrible effect.BCHS's Richard Garland got the va... (02/01/2021)
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Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video) 

Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video)

Freedom House Enterprises ambulance services was a pioneering program designed to be representative of the community it served (Pittsburgh's Hill District), provide a pathway for upward mobility, and address a severe disparity in pre-hospital care. The collaboration between Phil Hallen, Peter Saf... (09/30/2020)
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COVID-19 on campus 

COVID-19 on campus

Drs. John Williams and Margaret McDonald share an update on the current COVID conditions on campus and reflect on their insider experiences serving on Pitt’s Healthcare Advisory Group during this public health crisis. (09/25/2020)
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COVID-19 & Secondary Impacts 

COVID-19 & Secondary Impacts

The stay-at-home and social distancing COVID-19 mitigation orders drastically restricted people’s physical movements and access to businesses, causing myriad secondary impacts on the public’s health. Dr. Andrea Gielen discusses how the pandemic has affected injury risks due to changes in lifestyles... (09/18/2020)
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