Epi Department News

Mendez on equity and reproductive justice, plus One Book, One Community

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PITTWIRE - EPI's Dara Mendez started her work in health equity as an undergrad and has now been researching racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth, and women's health for the past 18 years. She will lead a conversation with scholar Dána-Ain Davis, author of this year’s OBOC selection, on 2/26.  

Health officials say the coronavirus will likely become endemic in the next several years. What does that mean? Burke explains.

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USA TODAY - The CDC defines endemic as the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence” of a disease within a population. An endemic disease spreads at a baseline level every year without causing major disruption to people's lives, said EPI's Donald Burke. “Things that are endemic are present for long periods of time without interruption, continuously circulating in the population," like the common cold, he said. “Epidemic means something that co... 

Rethinking Obesity

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PITTSBURGH QUARTERLY — “Diet is the best explanation for weight loss,” says EPI's Andrea Kriska, “Physical activity is the best for weight maintenance." Colleague Bonny Rockette-Wagner adds, "Physical activity is important for people who are obese, independent of the weight loss. It has effects on reducing risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes."  

Low-energy laser treatment study supported by National Eye Institute

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NOVUS LIGHT TECH TODAY — The NIH National Eye Institute has awarded Pitt and WVU $15.2 million to study how an annual treatment called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) can be better used to treat glaucoma, lowering hassle, expense, and side effects. “The eye drops only work if you put them in every day, in some cases several times a day,” said EPI's Goundappa K. Balasubramani. “Dozens of studies have taught us that most patients do not fa... 

The NFL’s testing program could help other scientists.

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NEW YORK TIMES - The NFL didn’t just play football this season, it conducted an enormous coronavirus testing program. Now scientists who try to predict how viruses travel through communities are eager to see the data to fine-tune their models. EPI's Donald Burke said the data could help him understand how long infected people have been in the community spreading the virus. The NFL’s data, including more than 700 positive cases over six months, “... 

The choices of fans have public health implications.

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NEW YORK TIMES - Common sense dictates that bringing together 25,000 people during a pandemic could lead to more coronavirus infections, and the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., is no exception. EPI's  Donald Burke  is trying to develop a way to estimate the potential spread using cellphone tracking data, statistics on the transmission of viruses, and other information. “Modeling the virus is the easy part. Modeling the humans is the hard part.”  

Secrets to a healthy heart | New research on women and heart disease

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AARP —  New research shows that the hormonal shifts that occur during perimenopause—the years preceding menopause—set the stage for heart disease. “As women transition, they experience many changes that, when taken together, increase their risk of cardiovascular disease,” says lead researcher EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary. During this time, “bad” LDL cholesterol begins to rise; “good” HDL cholesterol may stop being protective; body fat accumulates ... 

COVID-19 Update: As Pa. cases decline, did state avoid post-holiday surge?

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE — Lee Harrison, a Pitt epidemiologist and chairman of the Allegheny County Board of Health, said that the drop in the positivity rate was encouraging, but warned that the state is not done with the winter surge. “We’re in the middle still of a raging pandemic,” he said.  "I would encourage people to really continue to hunker down, stay safe, and, whenever their turn comes up to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.”  

Mendez explains how recently released health indicators fall along racial lines, again

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WESA - EPI's Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity, explains why recently released health data for Pittsburgh women and children continues to fall along racial lines.   

Estradiol may influence association between HDL cholesterol, aortic calcification

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HEALIO - High HDL cholesterol levels alone may not be cardioprotective for midlife women; estradiol may influence the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to data from the SWAN Heart study. “Levels of endogenous estradiol may play an important role in cardioprotective associations of HDL cholesterol,” said EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary.  

Head of Allegheny County board of health says highly contagious U.K. variant is likely already in western Pa.

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WESA / WITF — It is likely the new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the U.K. is already circulating in Allegheny County, according to the chair of the county’s board of health. “The public health messages don’t change [because of the new strain] … We need to continue to hunker down, follow all the masking, physical distancing, and other mitigation efforts that we’re already doing,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, a Pitt infectious d... 

Gov. Wolf awards Pitt Public Health $2.5M to study health impacts of fracking

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT -  Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has awarded a $2.5 million contract to research the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state in two epidemiological studies to be conducted over the next two years. EPI's Evelyn Talbott will investigate the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and the development of childhood cancers, while BIOS' Jeanine Buchanich will examine acute conditions, such as asthma and birth ... 

Virtual Agents of Change: How Computers Are Mapping Covid-19's Future

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KNOWABLE MAGAZINE—Instead of trying to analyze how society functions from the top down, agent-based modeling tackles the problem from the other end, focusing on individuals."We have (modeled) every person in the US, where they live, where they go to school, where they go to work," says EPI's Donald Burke of PHDL's FRED. This approach both predicts the pandemic's future trajectory and gives insights into the effects of public health strategies. ... 

An Expert’s Mental Health Reminders

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PITTWIRE - Finals are here. Winter is coming. Pitt psychiatry and epidemiology expert Rebecca Thurston offers reminders to care for yourself during tough times.  

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