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What drives 'anti-vaxxer' parents? It's a mixed bag, Hoffman shows

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U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - People who voice their anti-vaccine sentiments online range from conspiracy theorists to parents who have safety worries or interests in alternative medicine. Investigators, including Beth Hoffmann (BCHS '19), came to that conclusion after looking into a viral Facebook attack targeting a Pittsburgh pediatric practice that posted a video encouraging HPV vaccination.   

BCHS's Hawk and Gary-Webb participate in event honoring recently promoted women faculty

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BCHS associate professors Mary Hawk and Tiffany Gary-Webb participated in the provost's recent event, “A Celebration of Newly Promoted Women Faculty.” Sponsored by the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns (PACWC), the event featured a panel of accomplished women professors offering perspectives and advice for successful academic careers and then introduced the recently promoted women among the faculty. The event was part of Pitt's on... 

Pitt MHA rises in national rankings

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US NEWS & WORLD REPORT- In the 2020 rankings of best graduate schools, Pitt's Master of Health Administration (MHA) program surged from 29th to 17th nationally among programs in health care management. The move was one of the largest in the country, positioning the Pitt MHA as the highest-ranked program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  

Pyne to give inaugural Dipankar Chakraborti Memorial Lecture

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BIOST's Saumyadipta Pyne, scientific director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, will deliver the first lecture in the series on geostatistical prediction models in public health at Jadavpur University in India on March 15, 2019.   

Everett James appointed to serve as interim dean

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Sr. Vice Chancellor Levine announced his appointment of Everette James as interim dean, effective upon the stepping down of Dean Donald Burke on July 1, 2019. "I am confident that Everette will provide strong leadership for the school during this important transition period." Levine also appointed Eleanor Feingold as executive associate dean, working "with Everette to build upon GSPH’s history of excellence in education, research, and community ... 

Gellad talks about rising cost of prescription drugs

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MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO - Americans spend more on prescription drugs than anyone else in the world, a fact attributed to the ever rising costs of pharmaceuticals. HPM's Walid Gellad discusses a recent Congressional hearing, in which pharmaceutical executives claim that their hands are tied by the current health care system, and that they need profits to fund new research.  

Wenzel identifies corticosteroid response phenotypes for severe asthma

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MEDPAGE TODAY - With the aid of a computational tool, Wenzel says they have identified key phenotypes among patients with severe asthma that can help predict who may benefit and not benefit from treatment with systemic corticosteroids (CS). Aware of the possible side effects, EOH's Sally Wenzel said, “physicians would like to prescribe them only to patients they know will benefit from them.”  

Hernandez comments on new poll: Americans Support Government Action to Curb Prescription Drug Prices

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NPR - "With the current awareness and the bipartisan agreement in the recognition of drug prices as a major concern, we are in an optimal environment for the design and implementation of policies targeted at controlling prices, and assuring the affordability of medications to the U.S. public,” states Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16). "Financial barriers for medication…are having a detrimental effect on our fellow citizens' health."  

Marques finds that previous exposure to Dengue Fever protects against Zika

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90.5 WESA - Pitt researchers have found that previous exposure to Dengue Fever lowers the risk of infection from the Zika virus. “If we use currently approved Dengue vaccines or vaccines that are already close to become approved, you could boost Dengue responses... and could provide some degree of protection [against the Zika virus]” said IDM's Ernesto Marques, the study’s senior author.  

Meet Laurenia Mangum (BCHS/SocWk ‘22), Coverdell Fellow

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Laurenia Mangum worked within the children, youth, and family sector in the Philippines while in the Peace Corps. “The BCHS program compliments my social work background and serves as a great transition from the Peace Corps. It meets my needs without compartmentalizing the studies into one particular focus…but rather provides the opportunity for the student to customize his or her own studies.”  

Meet Alyssa Amendola (BCHS/GSPIA '21), Coverdell Fellow

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The Peace Corps showed Alyssa Amendola that she wanted to pursue public health. She chose Pitt because of our focus on global health, eclectic research interests, and strong faculty. Her time in the Peace Corps also helped prepare her for graduate school. "I gained a new perspective that I would not have otherwise [and] I am getting more out of my graduate experience than I would have if I had not volunteered with the Peace Corps."   

Burke on overdose deaths in Pittsburgh declining sharply

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PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW - "At this point, I'm not confident it is a permanent change for the good or if we're just returning to the expected curve," Dean Donald Burke said. "In our paper in Science a few months ago, we showed overdoses from all drugs, not just opioids, have been growing exponentially for 40 years. Occasionally it speeds up and slows down, but the growth curve always snapped back."   

Burke talks to The Economist about charting "the death curve"

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THE ECONOMIST - Charting overdose deaths shows an exponential curve increasing at a constant clip of 7.6% per year. Some modellers argue that the death curve might even continue its acceleration. “Anyone who tells me otherwise has to show me why that curve should bend now when it hasn’t in the face of the war on drugs and the rise and fall of other drugs,” says Dean Donald Burke.  

Padiath and colleagues 'see' dual-layered scaffolding of cellular nuclei

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ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Our cells sometimes have to squeeze through pretty tight spaces. And when they do, the nuclei inside must go along for the ride. Using super-sensitive microscopic imaging, HUGEN’s Quasar Padiath made a fundamental biological discovery that explains the structure of the nuclear envelope and gives tantalizing clues as to how cells squish through narrow openings without springing a leak.  

Wenzel's new method identifies which asthma patients respond to system corticosteroids

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While important in the treatment of the common and often life-long respiratory disease, corticosteroids aren't without side effects and for some patients, the treatment just isn't as effective. EOH Chair Sally Wenzel and colleagues used a machine learning algorithm and identified variables that allowed them to cluster patients based on response.   

MMPH alumna honored with Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award

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Tammy Haley (MMPH '13) was honored with the 2019 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award at Pitt's Honors Convocation ceremony.  The annual award recognizes teaching excellence and includes both a cash prize of $2,000 and a grant of $3,000 to support the faculty member's teaching activities.   

Grubs receives 2019 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award

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Human genetics professor Robin Grubs was honored with the 2019 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. Presented at the annual Honors Convocation ceremony in February, the award recognizes excellence in teaching by members of the University of Pittsburgh’s faculty as evidenced by students, colleagues, department chairs, and deans. Each faculty awardee wins a cash prize of $2,000 and a grant of $3,000 to support his or her teaching activities.... 

BCHS’s Baumann receives 2019 Silverman Scholarship

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Doctoral student Sara Baumann (BCHS ’19) has received the Silverman Scholarship from the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. The funds will support her research on chhaupadi in Nepal, a traditional harmful practice where women and girls are isolated during their menstrual cycles. Baumann is conducting a qualitative study in far-west Nepal to understand intentions to change behaviors after criminalization of the practice.  

BCHS alum accepted for Harvard crisis leadership program

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Nicolle Nestler (BCHS ‘11) was recently accepted to Harvard’s Emerging Leaders in Crisis Program. Currently, a hospital preparedness program administrator at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Nestler seeks to further develop her leadership, communication, and collaboration skills in public health emergency management and how to effectively lead during times of catastrophic crisis.  

Elias receives Chancellor's Distinguished Service Award

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Congrats to professor (and alum) Thistle Elias (BCHS '12) on winning the 2019 award - a major honor recognizing continuing work with Bridging the Gaps, a premier service-learning opportunity for Pitt students. The award "recognizes... efforts [that] far exceed the traditional duties expected of a faculty member and showcases the extraordinary impact that you have had in your own department and in the University."   

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Mendez among those discussing maternal mortality rate in Pitt Med's podcast 

Mendez among those discussing maternal mortality rate in Pitt Med's podcast

PITT WIRE - As estimated 700 to 900 U.S. women die of complications related to childbirth each year, and at least 60,000 women nearly die of pregnancy-related complications. And African American mothers are four times more likely to die or nearly die. Hear perspectives from EPI's Dara Mendez and th... (03/25/2019)
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Hernandez study investigates rising drug prices 

Hernandez study investigates rising drug prices

PITT WIRE - A recent study led by Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16), assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics, found that new drugs entering the market drive up prices, but drug companies are also hiking prices on older drugs.  (01/30/2019)
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Arthur Levine: 20 years of impact 

Arthur Levine: 20 years of impact

PITT WIRE - After more than two decades of transformative service to the University of Pittsburgh, Arthur S. Levine has announced his intent to exit his position as senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean in the School of Medicine. In a message to the ... (01/24/2019)


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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Analysis by King identifies patients most at risk for weight regain after bariatric surgery 

Analysis by King identifies patients most at risk for weight regain after bariatric surgery

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - In the years following bariatric surgery, a person's overall eating behaviors and the amount of time spent watching television, playing video games, and using a computer for recreation are a better indication of long-term weight loss success than specific weight control practi... (04/15/2019)
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Mailliard develops 'Swiss Army Knife' immunotherapy that kicks and kills HIV by exploiting a common virus 

Mailliard develops 'Swiss Army Knife' immunotherapy that kicks and kills HIV by exploiting a common virus

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - In a first on the quest to cure human immunodeficiency virus, IDM's Robbie Mailliard and colleagues developed an all-in-one immunotherapy approach that not only kicks HIV out of hiding in the immune system, but also kills it. The key lies in immune cells designed to recognize ... (04/15/2019)
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USF latest to use FRED to simulate measles outbreak in Florida 

USF latest to use FRED to simulate measles outbreak in Florida

WUSF NEWS - University of Pittsburgh's Public Health Dynamic Laboratory teamed up with the University of South Florida College of Public Health to create a new online measles simulator that shows how quickly measles can spread from just one measles case over a nine-month period.  (04/05/2019)