Alumni News - All

Allegheny County Health Department prizes alliance with Pitt Public Health alumni

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You don’t have to look far to find a School of Public Health (SPH) graduate among the people working within the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) to ensure the well-being of western Pennsylvanians. "The school really is a feeder institution," says LuAnn Brink (EPI '99), PhD, a 12-year ACHD veteran and chief epidemiologist since 2014. Brink supervises the county's Bureau of Data Reporting and Disease Control and oversees surveillance... 

New tools to support new moms: an interview with Jennifer Barkin

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MAD IN AMERICA - Jennifer Barkin (EPI '09, BIOST '02), a biostatistician and psychiatric epidemiologist, discusses the development of the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning, the first patient-centered wellness-assessment tool focusing on mothers’ daily lives during the first year after giving birth. “I developed that actually during my doctoral studies… and the reason that I developed it was I linked up with a sort of famous reproductive psych... 

Alumni Update: Before Walking Down the Aisle, Marching with Many Puppets

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NEW YORK TIMES - After meeting through a Craigslist personal ad that neither can remember placing, Jonathan Gann and Michael Shankle (BCHS '96) had their first date at the Million Puppet March in Washington. Shankle is chief operating officer at the Washington Health Institute and serves as the chair of Washington’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission for the Chinatown, Downtown and Penn Quarter areas.   

Christian Garcia-Calavaro (EPI '19) appointed head of Department of Epidemiology Chilean Ministry of Health

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With a warm and inviting smile – and a colorful tattoo of the Andy Warhol bridge on his forearm – Epidemiology alum Christian Garcia-Calavaro is eager to share his public health journey from his native Chile to Pittsburgh and back again. As he reflects on his experiences at Pitt Public Health he shares, “Through knowledge and example, I learned what made me the public health professional I am today and the foundations of the virtuous person who ... 

Saldana named Vice President at Abt Associates

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Congratulations to Kelly Saldana (BCHS '01) who joins Abt Associates as vice president, systems strengthening and resilience. Saldana was previously employed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), where she has held increasingly senior roles in the agency's health sector for the past two decades. In her new role, Saldana will lead technical solutions and approaches to international development projects and proposals.   

Kelly Lavin Delmore named one of The Hill’s top lobbyists of 2021

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On December 1, 2021, The Hill released their annual list of Top Lobbyists, including 2004 HPM graduate Kelly Lavin Delmore (HPM ’04). Ms. Delmore is a Principal in the Government Relations and Public Policy Practice at the health law firm, Hooper Lundy & Bookman, P.C., where she lobbies for an array of health care clients on a bi-partisan level. With close to two decades of experience on Capitol Hill, much of her work in the past year focused on... 

A Broken System: Health Care Inequity

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WQED - EPI’s Dara Mendez, BCHS’s Patricia Documet, and Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH ’00) are featured in a 30-minute documentary showcasing widespread and troubling health disparities. Lack of access to affordable care, racism, marginalization and other factors have led to increased rates of cancer, diabetes, asthma, and fetal and maternal death in Pittsburgh’s African American, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ and disabilities communities.  

Misled on lead: The campaign to keep toxic lead in hunting ammo and fishing tackle

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS - EOH student Sam Totoni authored a two-part feature series to inform the public. “Hunting and fishing have a science denial problem. Special interest groups are misleading hunters and anglers—some of the country's proudest conservationists—into poisoning wildlife. Hunters are also being misled into risking the health of their families and recipients of donated meat. Even small amounts of lead affect nearly every organ ... 

Two community-created Collaborative Filmmaking films from Burke and Baumann to debut at Nepalese film festivals

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As a part of an ongoing research collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, with funding from the British Academy, BCHS’s Sara Baumann and Jessie Burke have two new community-created films from applying the Collaborative Filmmaking method in Nepal being aired at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival, and the Pame Film Festival in Nepal this December.  

Scott: 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Practice

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John Scott (BIOST '08) was awarded the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Practice in recognition of significant contributions to public health practice.  

Hernandez: 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Research

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Inmaculada Hernandez (HSRP '16) awarded 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Research in recognition of significant contributions to public health practice.  

Clark: 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

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Shauna Clark (IDM '08) awarded 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination in recognition of significant contributions to teaching and dissemination, either in the classroom or in the field.   

Zeni: 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination

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Mary Beth Zeni (HSADM '93) awarded 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Teaching and Dissemination in recognition of significant contributions to teaching and dissemination, either in the classroom or in the field.  

Bhatti: 2021 Early Career Excellence Award

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Alexandra Bhatti (IDM '11) awarded 2021 Early Career Excellence Award in recognition of significant achievements early in an alumnus or alumna's career.   

Singh: 2021 Early Career Excellence Award

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Tushar Singh (EPI '14) awarded 2021 Early Career Excellence Award in recognition of significant achievements early in an alumnus or alumna's career.   

Robertson: 2021 Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award

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Lyn Barry Robertson (BCHS '05) awarded Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award in recognition of significant contribution to the school or greater community through volunteer service.   

Sundermann discusses collaborative paper on artificial intelligence and disease prediction

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KDKA RADIO – Alex Sundermann (IDM ‘14, EPI ‘22) explains that one in thirty patients gets at least one health care-associated infection – one acquired while in the hospital. “Typical tests see what type of organism it is but that test doesn’t tell you, was it transmitted from a patient or from somewhere in the environment? [Genome surveillance is] like fingerprinting for that test – who has that same organism and who is transmitting to who when ... 

Thompson wins doctoral award for community health planning and policy development

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PITT WIRE - Jessica Thompson (BCHS '21) was honored at this year's American Public Health Association meeting and expo— an annual "public health playground"—where her work "Heart health experiences of rural Appalachian women: A community-engaged study," received this year's award for the group's Community Health Planning & Policy Development section, which aims to shift policy to eliminate disparities by advocating for healthy communities, healt... 

Ganguli op-ed: Masking still makes sense for vaccinated individuals

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In a recent Op-Ed from Mary Ganguli (EPI '87) says, "We all know there’s just too much information out there: some of it changing over time, some of it well-intended but misguided and some of it deliberate misinformation. It can be confusing and overwhelming. As a medical doctor and professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, I’d like to try to cut through that confusion."   

Now that your younger children can get a COVID-19 vaccine, here's how to be fully vaccinated by Christmas and Kwanzaa

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CNN - Many doctors, including Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH ‘00), are encouraging their patients' parents to vaccinate as soon as possible in hopes of protecting children and those around them. Chaves-Gnecco, who is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, plans on bringing together his mother and his 7-year-old son this holiday season for the first time since the start of the pandemic -- after the latter gets vaccinated.  

John-Langba appointed regional VP for Africa at the World Federation for Mental Health

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PITTWIRE - Johannes John-Langba (BCHS '04) will serve as regional vice president for Africa of the World Federation for Mental Health organization. Administrative positions in the University of KwaZulu-Natal and his research area is on the psychosocial dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic among university students in five African countries and its impact on careers of persons with mental and neurological disorders.   

This Flu Season is Different. Here's How to Prepare.

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NEW YORK TIMES - In a  study  published on a preprint server in August that has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh used mathematical modeling to predict how severe the upcoming flu season might be based on this increased susceptibility. They reported that if flu and flu vaccination levels are typical of prior years, 102,000 more Americans than average could be hospitalized with influenza — a 20 percent incr... 

To jab or not to jab? Vaccinations still hot topic in sports

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AP - “For athletes in particular, their livelihood is based on their ability to compete,” said EPI’s Wendy King (EPI '04), who took part in a research project on vaccine hesitancy earlier this year. “Even if they thought, ‘Oh, I’m pretty healthy and I wouldn’t get that bad of a case,’ it would still heavily impact their ability to go to work, to play in a game. It could affect their entire team — not just them — so they might feel like they’re l... 

Baumann and Burke Talk Collaborative Filmmaking in Health Promotion Practice Journal's Podcast

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BCHS’s Sara Baumann and Jessica Burke discuss the role of art following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015 in this episode of the HPP Podcast. They explain the origin of "collaborative filmmaking" and their focus on empowering participants and communities and encourage listeners to view their digital gallery and to learn more about collaborative filmmaking.  

Hoffman and Sidani: reducing vaccine hesitancy starts on social media

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WPXI - BCHS's Jamie Sidani and Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19, '22) published new guidance for pediatricians outlining how to effectively talk to kids and parents about the COVID-19 vaccine that includes monitoring the messages being spread on social media. This guidance is broken down by ABC – be Active on social media, Build trustworthiness, and Capitalize on the strengths of adolescents to help spread accurate information.  

Pitt researchers find convalescent plasma "futile' in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “We speculate that it could be a combination of too few high-quality antibodies in the plasma and these patients being too far along in their illness with a runaway inflammatory immune response for those antibodies to turn the tide,” said co-senior author Derek Angus (BCHS '92), the chief innovation officer at UPMC and chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine and secondary faculty in HPM.   

Ford receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Association of Black Women Physicians

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Congratulations to Chandra Ford (CHS '97), professor of community health sciences at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She was recognized for her research examining relationships between racism-related factors and disparities in the health care continuum and advances the conceptual and methodological tools for studying racism's relationship to health disparities, and also for her public service and work as a mentor.   

Curry named Health System Executive of the Year in LA County

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EMANATE HEALTH - In the wake of a global pandemic, Emanate Health CEO Robert H. Curry (HADM '79), who oversees the largest health care system in the San Gabriel Valley, has been named 2021 Health System Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal during its annual Health Care Leadership Panel and Awards. “I’m truly humbled and honored to be selected for this award from such a distinguished group of Los Angeles-area health care lead... 

Latinos Surpass Non-Latinos in COVID-19 Vaccination in Pennsylvania, But The Numbers Come with Caveats

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WESA-FM - Reaching 50 percent of Latinos was made possible by intentional directed community efforts, according to Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH '00). "We take people on a walk-in basis. We're vaccinating adults without health insurance, without appointments, and in their same language, in Spanish," he said. "We are also not requiring any type of documentation."   

Sevco named president of UPMC Hospitals

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UPMC - Mark Sevco (HPM '91) will assume the role of president, UPMC Hospitals, comprised of 40 academic, community and specialty hospitals and co-lead the Health Services Division. Sevco currently is president, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which is nationally ranked as a top-ten pediatric hospital by U.S. News. He has served UPMC for 30 years in various capacities including chief operating officer of UPMC Pinnacle, president UPMC East... 

Cat in the Lab: Feline Genomes Fuel Precision Medicine

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GEN - Leslie Lyons (HUGEN ‘91, '87), professor of comparative medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, emphasizes the importance of using the right model for studying a disease. When one thinks of the most popular and useful animal models in biomedical research, one thinks of mice and rats, followed by rabbits, dogs, monkeys, and so on.  

Odds of death for COVID-19 patients 'falling 5 percent every month,' Angus and other UPMC doctors say

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PENN LIVE - "We have found [monoclonal antibody treatments] to be remarkably safe and remarkably effective," said HPM faculty Derek Angus (BCHS '92) who is also the Mitchell P. Fink Endowed Chair of Critical Care Medicine at Pitt Medicine. UPMC is also involved in a global trial, known as REMAP, which uses a relatively new method of clinical trials to test new treatments. Angus said that the REMAP trial "helped settle the debate that hydroxychlo... 

Other Voices: A rush to judgment on Alzheimer's drug?

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - An op-ed from Mary Ganguli (EPI '87): Imagine that your doctor has just told that you most likely have Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable type of dementia. And then you see on the news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease called aducanumab, made by a company called Biogen. But, you also read, many doctors oppose the FDA decision. Why would anyone oppose a drug f... 

Nace on 'interesting ride' of COVID information dissemination

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KDKA RADIO - On the topic of the recently-released information on boosters for mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities pointed out that this wasn't a shock. "There's been a lot of data from these vaccines, but also from our prior experience with other vaccines, like the flu vaccine. We know that there tends to be a drop off, not with all but some tend to have a decline in the response o... 

Minster on study linking genetic variant to lower obesity risk

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WITF - The research shows promise, but the success of treating obesity by targeting these genes is not guaranteed, according to HUGEN's Ryan Minster (HUGEN '11). "That's because the human body itself is extremely resistant to losing weight," Minster said. "Beyond that, most of us live in social, physical and occupational environments that foster weight gain."   

"The Role of Mom's Microbes During Pregnancy" cites Gopalakrishna's work

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THE SCIENTIST - In 2019, Kathyayini Gopalakrishna (HUGEN '20) and colleagues deomonstrated the importance of bacteria-specific IgA antibodies in preventing overexpansion of Enterobacteriaceae—a classic hallmark of NEC—in the guts of preterm babies. These and other results imply that immune education in the final weeks before birth is important for babies' immune systems to tolerate friendly bacteria.  

Baumann's talk during TEDxUniversity: Leaders, Innovators, and Neighbors (video)

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BCHS' Sara Baumann is a mixed-methods researcher harnessing participatory, arts-based tools to study mental health and reproductive health issues. She was living in Nepal in 2015 when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck, killing close to 9,000 people and displacing half a million. Watch the recording, where Sara talks about the community art that rose from the aftermath of the tragic and traumatic event.   

Nace among those saying we should require COVID-19 vaccination of all health care workers

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - "I'm hopeful that this will help to start improving the vaccine uptake among employees in the long-term care workforce, because we really need to get those numbers up," said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer of UPMC Senior Communities and an expert in long-term care and flu programs.   

Baumann blogs about Health Policy and Planning article, asking Is criminalization the answer for ending a harmful practice in Nepal?

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HPP DEBATED - BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) talks about a recent article in the journal Health Policy and Planning, Is criminalization the answer? Perspectives of community members and police on menstrual seclusion policy in Far-West Nepal. The study was completed by an interdisiplinary Pitt team including Baumann, BCHS's Jessie Burke, and BCHS students Monica Merante, Chris Wiltrout, and Trevor Cutlip.   

Cen named to Pitt's Board of Trustees

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PITTWIRE - Among the latest to be added to Pitt's Board of Trustees is alumna Hui (Debra) Cen (IDM '91). Cen is a biologist, biotech entrepreneur, Rotarian and social entrepreneur who did biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, the University of California, San Francisco and Chiron. Her latest initiative is a program to match successful Chinese immigrant volunteers and mentors with educational and financial literacy programs se... 

Four SWAN studies explore women's brain and heart health during midlife

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NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING - Meaningful research from our students, alumni, and faculty suggest that midlife health may be an important determinant of cognitive function and heart health later on in life. Featuring work from four SWAN manuscripts, one led by EPI's Emma Barinas-Mitchell (EPI '98) for which Emily Duan (EPI '17) performed the analysis, and another led by Saad Samargandy (EPI '20). Franya Hutchins (EPI '20) performed the analyses f... 

Baumann's Research Project Explores Mental Health of Teenagers

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KDKA - The mental health of kids and teenagers has been a big concern, especially during the pandemic. Work from BCHS' Sara Baumann (BCHS '19) led eight local teenagers to create short films focusing on the stressors and supports for their mental health. The research project used Collaborative Filmmaking, giving teenagers equipment to create, film, and edit on their own.   

Hernandez wins Alice S. Hersh Emerging Leader Award

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Congratulations to Inma Hernandez (HPM '16), the 2021 recipient of the Alice S. Hersh Emerging Leader Award from AcademyHealth! This prestigious award recognizes professionals early in their career who show exceptional promise for future contributions to the field of health services research. Hernandez earned her PhD in Health Services Research and Policy and is an associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California San Dieg... 

Documet receives Pitt 2021 Momentum Funds, research grant from CLAS

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Teaming grants through the University's Momentum Funds are utilized for early-stage planning of large multidisciplinary projects. BCHS' Patricia Documet (BCHS '95, '02) along with a group of Pitt researchers for a project entitled "Developing a Latinx Youth Research Advisory Board to Address and Dismante Structural Inequities in Emerging Latinx communities."   

Sundermann named APIC Fellow

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Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), was named a 2021 fellow of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The status is "a distinction of honor for infection preventionists who are not only advanced practitioners of infection prevention practice, but also leaders within the field." Fellows are selected by their years of experience and contributions to the field of infection prevention. Congratulations!   

Special Report: Dementia wards in PA were ravaged during the pandemic. Nace explains.

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US NEWS/POST-GAZETTE - Sixy-seven percent of big outbreaks were in personal care and assisted living homes with dementia units. Just keeping infections from dementia wards has been daunting, said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities and co-lead of the state's regional collaborative that responds to outbreaks in long-term care homes in Western Pennsylvania.   

Althouse: Why Number Needed to Treat Can be Misleading for Vaccines

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MEDSCAPE - Andrew Althouse (EPI '13) authored a piece discussing how the "number needed to treat" (NNT) concept is misleading when applied blindly to vaccine trials for COVID-19.   

Barkin examines impact of climate change on mental health

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Jennifer Barkin (EPI '09, BIOST '02) is attracting national attention for her work at the intersection of climate/mental health, recently receiving Georgia's Vanguard of Environmental Justice Award for her work. She developed the Barkin Index to measure function during new motherhood and now, she’s working on creating the Climate Distress Index to examine how and to what degree changes in the environment affect a person’s mental health.   

Flatt receives Early-Stage Investigator Award

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eBRAIN - Congratulations to Jason Flatt (BCHS '13) for winning an NIH Sexual Gender and Minority Research Investigator Award for work Identifying Risk and Protective Factors for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Among Sexual and Gender Minority Older Adults. Flatt is an assistant professor in the Social and Behavioral Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Public Health.   

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.  

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