Faculty Stories

Biostatistics and Biomedical Informatics hold joint retreat

Pitt's departments of biostatistics and biomedical informatics held a half-day joint faculty retreat to share respective areas of work, identify common interests, and foster collaborations in research and education.  

Changing dynamics of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States from 1979 through 2016

SCIENCE - In an effort to understand the epidemic dynamics and perhaps predict its future course, Pitt Public Health researchers analyzed records of nearly 600,000 overdose deaths. Dean DONALD BURKE, HPM's HAWRE JALAL, and colleagues concluded that the U.S. drug overdose epidemic has been inexorably tracking along an exponential growth curve since at least 1979.   

Faculty Spotlight: Lu Tang

LU TANG joined the Department of BIOSTATISTICS as an assistant professor on August 1. He received his PhD in biostatistics from the University of Michigan. He is developing an outstanding research program in statistical machine learning and methods for modern high dimensional data. These are extremely important areas for the department as we build for the future.   

Buchanich Finds 70K Opioid-Related Deaths Likely Went Unreported

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Several states are likely dramatically underestimating the effect of opioid-related deaths because of incomplete death certificate reporting, with Pennsylvania leading the pack, according to a new analysis by Pitt Public Health. “Proper allocation of resources for the opioid epidemic depends on understanding the magnitude of the problem,” said lead author, BIOST's JEANINE BUCHANICH.   

Pitt Public Health study suggests there are thousands more opioid deaths than are being reported

US NEWS - Death certificates that did not specify the drugs involved in fatal overdoses may have masked more than 70K opioid-related deaths across the U.S. from 1999 to 2015. "Coroners... do not necessarily have medical training useful for completing drug information for death certificates based on toxicology reports," says BIOS' JEANINE BUCHANICH . DEAN BURKE and LAURAN BALMERT (BIOS ’17) coauthored the study.  

Racial disparity in premature deaths has narrowed since 1990

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - The past quarter century has brought a striking decline in earlier-than-expected deaths among blacks in the U.S. “We were surprised by these findings because they demonstrated such dramatic improvement,” said DEAN DONALD BURKE. “Our study shows that racial disparity in health outcomes is not inevitable. It can change, and the gap can be narrowed,” said BIOST's JEANINE BUCHANICH.   

Black Americans living longer, more whites fatally overdosing, says Buchanich

WESA-FM - Black Americans have historically lived shorter lives than whites, but BIOS’s JEANINE BUCHANICH found that the years of life lost gap has narrowed significantly since 1990. “It seems to show us that racial disparity and health outcome is not inevitable. Now it’s time to do some further study to see why this happened and how we can build on it.”  

Buchanich: 2018 Delta Omega Inductee

While completing her MPH and PhD degrees, JEANINE BUCHANICH (EPI ’98, ’07) worked full time for the Department of Biostatistics at Pitt Public Health and was appointed research assistant professor and deputy director of the Center for Occupational Biostatistics and Epidemiology in 2008. She has served as principal investigator or coinvestigator on many studies in occupational health epidemiology, vital status systems and tracing, and other topic ... 

Arena awarded emeritus status

VINCENT ARENA was awarded emeritus status after retiring from the Department of Biostatistics as associate professor. He was on the faculty for 31 years. His primary research focuses on the understanding of the epidemiology and etiology of juvenile onset diabetes, the evaluation of health risk effects from outdoor air pollution, and the characterization of lifestyle risk factors and their effect on physical activity levels.  

BIOS's Pyne publishes "Handbook of Statistics: Disease Modelling and Public Health"

Biostatistics faculty member and scientific director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, SAUMYADIPTA PYNE, and co-editors A.S. Rao and C.R. Rao have recently published a 2-volume title, "Handbook of Statistics: Disease Modelling and Public Health" which will serve as a vital resource for statisticians who need to access a number of different methods for assessing epidemic spread in populations, or in formulating public health policy.   

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