Epi Faculty News

Van Panhuis explains the importance of epidemiology during the current coronavirus pandemic

PBS NEWSHOUR - EPI’s Wilbert Van Panhuis tells California high school student reporter Madi Marks how he's collecting data on the coronavirus to combat it's spread. He talks about his personal transition from working with sick individuals in past epidemics to improving health conditions for whole populations. His work with big-data disease modeling allows his team to better plan and respond to emergency situations like the current pandemic.  

Mendez interviews Dornsife faculty on health equity and COVID-19 in the U.S. and Brazil (video)

EPI's Dara Mendez is health equity editor for Block Chronicles, a national web-series and online magazine profiling educators, artists, researchers, and community organizations on Latinx studies, urban education, health equity, and arts and culture. In this video, she interviews Sharelle Barber, scholar-activist and faculty member at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. "This is not really a surprise to those of us who study r... 

Burke says scarcity of coronavirus testing, lack of infection data will hamper efforts to reopen parts of the state

HARRISBURG PATRIOT-NEWS – EPI’s Donald Burke said the lack of testing among low-risk groups means there’s very little data about what percentage of the public is infected but without symptoms. Without reliable data on infections, it will be difficult to make informed decisions about when and how to scale back social distancing, and, later, when to ramp it up again for a second wave in the fall/winter. Increased testing needs to be in place by su... 

‘It’s very sad’: Black Americans facing higher rates of COVID-19 infections (video)

WTAE - On Tuesday, local group 1Hood hosted a virtual town hall called “What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About COVID-19.” Panelist Tiffany Gary-Webb, an epidemiologist at Pitt Public Health, said it’s important to have data broken down by race and zip code. “If we know that certain communities are being hit harder, we can get resources specifically to those areas.”  

Newman finds daily aspirin does not lower Alzheimer’s risk

NEW YORK TIMES - “If you’re 70 or older and healthy, without evidence of cardiovascular disease, it’s very difficult to improve on your success. The relatively low risk of dementia in this study was not further lowered with aspirin,” said Anne Newman, study co-author. Nor did they find an effect in various subgroups either—people with hypertension or diabetes, smokers, people with high cholesterol, or those who were overweight or obese.  

Newman encourages researchers to adapt clinical studies to alleviate impact of pandemic

NEURO NEWS – To minimize disruption and preserve integrity while still ensuring participant health and safety, EPI chair Anne Newman tells JAMA that sustaining ongoing trials could help millions of people realize substantial, durable health benefits that will be important post-pandemic. Therefore, efforts and resources should be dedicated to support continuing randomized trials using creative and thoughtful methods and proactive planning.  

What is epidemiology? Kuller explains.

LIVE SCIENCE – Epidemiologists are disease detectives who save lives by studying and preventing the spread of the worst diseases. EPI’s professor emeritus Lewis Kuller was asked to clarify: “Epidemiology is a tool to understand the distribution of disease in populations, and the factors that lead to higher or lower rates of disease and ways of effectively preventing disease.”  

Van Panhuis turns rapid Coronavirus data sharing into sustainable research infrastructure

Many of the 300 MIDAS members are conducting modeling research on COVID-19 and are contributing to an extraordinary international collection of data and information regarding the outbreak. “It’s exciting and gratifying to be able to do something useful to help with this pandemic,” said EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis. “We’re playing a crucial role in bringing the infectious disease modeling research community together to efficiently share information.... 

Burke on how contagious the new coronavirus is compared to flu and SARS

NEWSWEEK - Donald Burke, professor of health science and policy, said he was concerned that the reproduction number (RO) may be higher than originally estimated. The U.S. case count has been increasing exponentially. If the time between successive cases in the chain of transmission is four days, then the RO would have to be 3 to 4 to sustain this rate. “But the case count is confounded because case testing and reporting are increasing, and that ... 

Burke on what we can learn about coronavirus from National Geographic author David Quammen’s brilliant book ‘Spillover’

THE HILL - Epidemiologist Donald Burke emphasized the need to improve the scientific basis to improve readiness: the understanding of which virus groups to watch, the field capabilities to detect spillovers in remote places before they become regional outbreaks, the organizational capacities to control outbreaks before they become pandemics, plus the laboratory tools and skills to recognize known viruses speedily, to characterize new viruses alm... 

Burke responds: Can you get coronavirus twice?

NEWSWEEK - Experts said that they can’t be certain, based on the limited data there is on SARS-CoV-2 (the germ which causes COVID-19 and shouldn’t be confused with the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus). Donald Burke, professor of health science and policy, said he wasn’t sure, but as SARS-CoV-2 has the same kind of error correction molecular machinery as the virus that causes SARS, “its mutation rate will be slower.”  

King says many smokers quit before weight-loss surgery but start up again afterward

NEW YORK TIMES - "Those who smoked more recently, younger adults, patients with low income, and patients who were married were more likely to smoke post-surgery, which may help with targeted smoking-cessation maintenance efforts," said EPI’s Wendy King, lead study author. "Smoking increases risk of short-term postoperative complications, such as wound complications, respiratory complications, and sepsis."  

Burke concerned that true number of U.S. coronavirus cases is far above official tally

LOS ANGELES TIMES - Donald S. Burke, an EPI disease modeler, says that assumptions about the coronavirus’ ability to jump from person to person is especially conservative. The analysis assumed that each infected person will pass the virus along to 2.1 to 2.5 others over the course of their infection. But estimates for where it is spreading undetected has ranged between 5 and 6, so researchers may have greatly underestimated infections.  

McTigue finds gastric bypass boasts greater benefit for diabetics than sleeve gastrectomy

MD MAGAZINE - Led by EPI’s Kathleen Mctigue, investigators studied 9710 diabetes patients to determine how outcomes differed between the two procedures. Results revealed patients who underwent RYGB experienced significantly greater weight loss at 1 and 5 years when compared to those who underwent SG.  This study, “Comparing the 5-Year Diabetes Outcomes of Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass,” is published in JAMA Surgery.  

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