Epi Faculty News

Self-compassion can be good for the heart, Thurston finds

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - New research from secondary EPI faculty Rebecca Thurston sheds light on the ways that being kinder to yourself may be good for your heart. The study found that women who practice self-compassion overall have stronger cardiovascular health, further cementing the correlation between mind and body. “Self-compassion is a psychological construct that includes relating to oneself with kindness or compassion, particularly duri... 

A Broken System: Health Care Inequity

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.  

Wenzel, Kagan, Newman are Highly Cited Researchers for 2021

Congratulations to EOH’s Sally Wenzel and Valerian Kagan and EPI’s Anne Newman for their inclusion in the 2021 list of Highly Cited Researchers. The list identifies researchers who have demonstrated significant influence in their chosen fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. A total of 18 researchers from Pitt were included in this year's list.   

Tenant Cities: Unpaid housing health fines leave some Allegheny County tenants cold

PUBLIC SOURCE - EPI’s Donald Burke wants the department to review what it’s doing now, get data from other jurisdictions and consider how it might better achieve the goal of safe and livable housing. “It’s an important function of the Health Department,” Burke said. “The environmental factors that are found in the housing inspections that deal with air quality, water quality [and] the social environment are all important determinants of health.”... 

COVID-19 could eventually be seasonal, scientists say

CNN - "We need more research to disentangle all the factors that may link seasonality to COVID-19 cases," HPM’s Hawre Jalal said. "Since it has been doing it twice so predictably, it's highly likely that a winter wave will happen again. That doesn't mean that we should give up and say, 'It's seasonal, we just have to go with that.' I think a very important distinction to make is that we have some predictable pattern to it, so we can prepare for ... 

Mendez and colleagues publish paper on association of residence in high-police contact neighborhoods with preterm birth

JAMA NETWORK OPEN - In this cross-sectional study of 1059 Minneapolis residents who gave birth to a live singleton in 2016, the odds of preterm birth for pregnant people living in a neighborhood with high police presence was significantly higher compared with the odds of their racial counterparts in a low-presence neighborhood (90% increase for White individuals, 100% increase for US-born Black individuals, and 10% for Black individuals born out... 

Harrison and other Medical Experts are Working to Detect the Omicron Variant

WTAE - "The big question is when will we detect it and also how rapidly will it spread? There have been other variants that look scary that didn't spread very well in the U.S. and other parts of the world, so I expect that we will see it sometime soon but exactly what it will do when it gets here - we are not really clear," said EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Higher Risk of Liver Cancer in People with NAFLD Linked to High Blood Iron Levels

CANCER HEALTH - “NAFLD may contribute to the rising incidence of HCC in the U.S. However, only a small fraction of NAFLD patients eventually develop HCC. The liver is the primary reservoir of body iron. The iron overload can cause hepatotoxicity and liver damage,” said EPI’s Jian-Min Yuan, senior author and chair of cancer prevention at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “A direct link between serum iron level and HCC risk would support a harmful role ... 

CDC Confirms That a Case of Monkeypox Has Made It to the US—Here's Why Experts Say Not to Worry

HEALTH MAGAZINE - Monkeypox is a "rare but potentially serious viral illness," per the CDC. The disease itself is caused by infection with monkeypox virus, which is a "distant cousin" of the deadly and now-eradicated smallpox disease, according to EPI's Donald S. Burke, dean emeritus. "It has a low mortality rate compared to smallpox, but it looks the same."   

In most ways, women age better than men and live longer. Scientists are trying to figure out why.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER – EPI’s Anne B. Newman added that women are more prone to arthritis, which causes disability. Everyone loses muscle mass with age, and women start out with weaker muscles and a higher percentage of body fat. Women are also more prone to osteoporosis after menopause, and that puts them at risk for broken hips. There are more older women with frailty, partly because frail men don’t live long. “Women are just physically less e... 

Sundermann discusses collaborative paper on artificial intelligence and disease prediction

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 ... 

The U.S. Is Relying On Other Countries' Data To Make Its Booster Shot Decisions

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT - Misinformation and news overload also contribute to the confusion, said EPI’s Lee Harrison. “For a lot of laypeople, it’s very difficult to know, ‘What source should I be using?’ And it’s even more difficult when you have all this misinformation trying to intentionally misguide people,” he said. State and local officials who undermine national policies — for example, by prohibiting vaccine mandates — don’t help, either.  

Gary-Webb named special assistant to the provost

UNIVERSITY TIMES – EPI’s Tiffany Gary-Webb, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, is serving as special assistant to the provost for race and the social determinants of equity, health and well-being. She will lead the Race & Health Collaboratory and will work with the Center on Race and Social Problems to implement the core components of the Race and Social Determinants Initiative.  

Coronavirus questions, answered: Which booster is more effective, long lasting?

WASHINGTON POST - Studies have not yet been done to determine how long Pfizer’s and Moderna’s boosters offer protection and whether one is more effective than the other. But EPI’s Lee Harrison does not expect to see significant differences between the brands by either measure. “I would feel extremely confident in the increased protection provided by a booster dose of either of the two mRNA vaccines,” he wrote in an email.  

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