Epi Faculty News

Richardson comments on advice against marijuana for pregnant and breastfeeding women

REUTERS - Even though there are still a lot of unknowns about the effects of marijuana exposure in the womb and from breast milk, research to date still suggests that pregnant and nursing women avoid cannabis. Earlier studies "were conducted when marijuana was not as strong as what is currently available, so we are probably under-estimating the effects of prenatal marijuana use on offspring development,” said EPI's GALE RICHARDSON.  

Dean Burke honored with 2018 John Snow Award at APHA Annual Meeting

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Named in honor of English physician John Snow (1813-1858), considered one of the founders of modern epidemiology, this annual award recognizes outstanding scientists for enduring contributions to public health through epidemiologic methods and practice. Burke said, "I find great personal satisfaction in the knowledge that my life-long research efforts have helped to improve global health and well-being." Congratulations, De... 

The costs of heroin and naloxone offer a tragic snapshot of the opioid crisis

STAT - The cost of heroin has fallen dramatically over the past few decades, and fentanyl and other illicit opioids can be rapidly mass produced. DEAN DONALD BURKE and Michael Hufford, co-founder of a nonprofit to improve naloxone access, propose a solution: "Make naloxone available over the counter, in much greater quantities, and at lower prices."  

Cauley wins prestigious service award

PITT WIRE - The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research has awarded JANE CAULEY, vice-chair of EPI, with the 2018 Shirley Hohl Service Award. Cauley received the award after volunteering for numerous positions and projects with the society.   

Mackey identifies modifiable dementia risk factor in older adults in long-running study

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - new research from Pitt Public Health has identified a dementia risk factor among older adults that should be modifiable even well into old age. “Although arterial stiffness is associated with markers of silent, or subclinical, brain damage and cognitive decline, until now, it was not clear that arterial stiffness was associated with the risk of dementia,” said EPI's RACHEL MACKEY.  

Overdose deaths have fallen for six months, Dean Burke comments

STAT - The number of fatal drug overdoses nationwide has fallen for six consecutive months, fueling hopes that the downturn marks not just a reprieve but a long-lasting shift in the tide of the addiction crisis. “After 40 years of this predictable growth pattern, we can hope that the curve is finally bending downward for good,” DEAN BURKE, wrote in an e-mail. “But history tells us to interpret these wobbles cautiously.”  

Newman honored by UPMC as Champion of Seniors

UPMC -  Congratulations to EPI chair ANNE NEWMAN, clinical director of the Aging Institute, honored by UPMC Senior Services as its 2018 Grand Champion for her work in the epidemiology of aging, longevity, and disability. This is the highest honor awarded by UPMC Senior Services. "The field of aging science is advancing rapidly, and we expect that many of those advances will make aging better for all,” said Newman.  

FRED takes 1st place of the Kuzneski Innovation Cup

Congratulations to the winners of the Kuzneski Innovation Cup, HPM and PHDL's MARK ROBERTS and JOHN GREFENSTETTE, JOHN CORDIER (HPM '18), and DEAN DONALD S. BURKE! 1st place went to FRED (a Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics), a software platform that simulates the spread of disease, mitigation strategies, & policy implications.The Kuzneski Innovation Cup is for Pitt students who are developing innovations that can positively ... 

Long-term study identifies Dementia risk factor

PITTWIRE - New research from Pitt Public Health has identified a dementia risk factor among older adults that should be modifiable even well into old age. “As the large arteries get stiffer, their ability to cushion the pumping of blood from the heart is diminished, and that transmits increased pulsing force to the brain, which contributes to silent brain damage that increases dementia risk,” said EPI's, RACHEL MACKEY.  

Simenson, Salerno, Saal-Ridpath selected for future health leaders program

PITT WIRE - Three students from Pitt Public Health were selected for the inaugural class of The Milken Institute’s Future Health Leaders Program. The students, ASHLEY SIMENSON (EPI '19), JESSICA SALERNO (IDM '20), and KAITLYN SAAL-RIDPATH (HPM '20), are among a dozen of fellows selected nationwide. The program aims to give the students exposure to health leadership to help accelerate their future work tackling complex public health challenges.... 

Alcohol screening tests fail to work in RYGB patients

BARIATRIC NEWS - People who undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery are at increased risk for alcohol-related problems and common screening tools that help physicians identify patients at high risk for alcohol use disorder fail to work well in this population, according to a new study. EPI's WENDY KING says specific symptoms of alcohol use disorder, such as being unable to remember because of drinking, should be assessed.  

Pitt Public Health study identifies modifiable dementia risk factor in older adults

SCIENCE DAILY - New research from Pitt Public Health found that arterial stiffness is a good proxy for predicting who will go on to develop dementia. Even minor signs of brain disease were not as telling. Since arterial stiffness can be reduced by antihypertensive drugs, and likely also lifestyle interventions, these findings suggest that at-risk patients may have the power to prevent or delay the onset of dementia.  

Bariatric surgery can reduce risks - but King's study finds it depends how much they can keep off after their operation

FORBES - Bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death in obese people. But those who gained back 20 percent of weight lost were more than one-third more likely to develop diabetes and two-thirds more likely to have high cholesterol, according to a study conducted by a research team including EPI and BIOS professors, WENDY KING, STEVEN BELLE, ABDUS WAHED, MPH student, AMANDA HINERMAN (EPI '19), and other colleagues. ... 

King finds alcohol disorder tests fail in weight-loss surgery patients

UPMC - Given the increased risk of alcohol use disorder associated with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, it is recommended that clinicians screen for alcohol use disorder before and after surgery, but there is no guidance on how to do that screening, said EPI's WENDY KING. According to a long-term, multicenter analysis, common screening tools fail to work well in this population.  

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