HPM Alumni Stories

Department of Health Policy and Management alumni have crafted interesting career paths and are applying their wealth of professional and academic experiences in a variety of roles.

Hernandez says experimental medicines for COVID-19 could help someday, but home runs not guaranteed

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WBHM - This proof-of concept study suggests that the strategy of blocking virus with antibodies holds promise. Inmaculada “Inma” Hernandez (HPM ’16), Pitt School of Pharmacy, is hopeful, but she doubts that these drugs will be a game-changer. “These drugs are so complex to produce, probably we will not have antibodies available for treating everybody who gets coronavirus. They’re probably going to be considerably expensive.”  

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

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NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get randomized trials executed successfully and rapidly in the face of a pandemic, and it definitely puts us on a sure footing.  

Angus says large antibody study offers hope for virus vaccine efforts

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LOS ANGELES TIMES – A comprehensive study from Iceland revealed that natural antibodies remained stable for four months, longer than was first thought. HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92), UPMC’s critical care chief, said that “will be encouraging for people working on vaccines.” He added that the infection fatality rate of 0.3 percent is in keeping with recent estimates here in the U.S.  

Angus has new questions about remdesivir COVID-19 efficacy

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REUTERS - HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS '92) and Pitt's Erin McCreary coauthored a study editorial raising questions about whether some patients get more benefit from remdesivir than others and whether it matters if patients receive remdesivir and steroids together. It is still possible that remdesivir could improve recovery for millions of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, they added, but more research is needed before that becomes clear.  

Angus says “Covid vaccine shortages are very likely. Without a plan, it will be a feeding frenzy.”

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THE TELEGRAPH - Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of critical care medicine and HPM distinguished professor, says hard conversations about who should be prioritized will be needed both within and between countries. It might be decided that frontline workers should be at the head of the queue, but you could say that minorities who have a disproportionate burden of the disease should have a chance. You must be transparent about your principles of fair... 

Papalia receives PhD in Kinesiology from Penn State

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Congratulations to Zack Papalia who received his PhD in Kinesiology at the 2019 winter commencement at Penn State University. Papalia earned his Master of Public Health from the Department of Health Policy and Management in 2012.  

Angus says disorganized research slows discovery of COVID-19 treatments

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NPR - Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92) says the problem is that our system rewards tribalism, with insufficient motivation for effective collaboration. He's leading a fast-track remap trial for COVID-19, part of an international effort involving hundreds of investigators. He has lots of opinions about which drugs might work best, but he'd rather focus on a trial design that can be as modular as possible and let as many people in as possible.  

Angus says the search for coronavirus treatments is jumbled

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CNN – The scramble for successful treatments is disjointed and chaotic, according to Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92). There are two million people who already have this disease. If even one in 10 has been able to participate in a trial, we could have gone through 100 different drugs by now and known definitively which ones worked or not. The disorder is global, and there aren’t enough tests right now to practice effective public health.  

Chaotic search for coronavirus treatments undermines efforts, says Angus

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WASHINGTON POST - “It’s a cacophony—it’s not an orchestra. There’s no conductor,” said Pitt Med and HPM faculty's Derek Angus (BCHS '92), who is leading a covid-19 trial to test multiple therapies. “My heart aches over the complete chaos in the response.” The lack of coordination puts the world at risk of ending up with a raft of inconclusive and conflicting studies and little idea of what interventions work for the next wave of illness.  

Angus comments on first results from Gilead coronavirus drug

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ASSOCIATED PRESS - A dozen patients had serious problems but it’s not clear whether they were from the drug or their disease. UPMC critical care chief and HPM faculty member Derek Angus (BCHS '92) said the recovery rate is good but “there is no way of knowing from this series if the antiviral drug was helpful.”  

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HPM Alumni Awards & Profiles

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Alumna profile: Diane Peterson  

Alumna profile: Diane Peterson

PITT PUBLIC HEALTH MAGAZINE — Looking back, Diane Peterson (HPM ’75) says her unconventional academic journey ended up being the perfect foundation for a career that has taken her all over the world and to the height of her profession. “I’m very proud to be a Pitt grad,” she says. “Even with the ci... (02/20/2020)
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Meet HPM alum Mina Kabiri 

Meet HPM alum Mina Kabiri

Mina Kabiri (HPM '17) is the associate director of global health economics and value demonstration at the Health Economics and Market Access division of Johnson and Johnson Medical Devices Companies. In her role, she leads the global efforst of developing health economic modeling tools for orthoped... (02/12/2020)
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Meet HPM alum Ray Van Cleve  

Meet HPM alum Ray Van Cleve

Ray Van Cleve (HPM '19) is working at the PRIME Center, a collaboration between Yale School of Medicine and The West Haven VA Hospital. He is working on the Pain and Opioids Consortium of Research (CORE) serving as the group's statistician and helping manage some of the group's day to day projects ... (02/05/2020)
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Morgan wins Carl E. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award  

Morgan wins Carl E. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award

Russell E. Morgan Jr (HSADM ’70) received the Carl E. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding lifetime achievements in international health from the International Health Section of the American Public Health Association. Morgan was presented with the award during the 201... (12/04/2019)
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Hernandez receives 2019 Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award 

Hernandez receives 2019 Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award

VALDOSTA DAILY TIMES - "As an exemplary leader in the field of managed care, Dr. Hernandez sincerely represents the values that the Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research award was founded on," said Mike Hennessy Jr., president and CEO of MJH Life Sciences, parent company of the p... (11/11/2019)
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Meet HPM alumna Cassandra Leighton 

Meet HPM alumna Cassandra Leighton

Cassandra Leighton (HPM '19) is a health services solutions analyst at AmeriHealth Caritas. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth Caritas is a managed care organization, serving over 5.1 million Medicaid, Medicare, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members across 11 states. In her... (10/17/2019)
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Garrison, Abdi, Litam win first place nationally in Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition 

Garrison, Abdi, Litam win first place nationally in Everett V. Fox Student Case Competition

Erika Garrison (MHA/MBA '20), Ilham Abdi (MHA '20), and Terrance Litam (MHA '20) took top honors in NAHSE's case competition held in Washington, DC. Competing among 29 teams representing the nation's top programs, the Pitt students developed a plan to address the health care needs of San Francisco'... (10/14/2019)
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Boehm selected as Pittsburgh Business Times' 30 Under 30 

Boehm selected as Pittsburgh Business Times' 30 Under 30

Congratulations to Meghan Boehm (HPM '18)! Award winners were selected for their successful efforts to grow a busines or nonprofit and for their contributions to the community and civic organizations. "I am so honored to be among this group of incredible leaders in the Pittsburgh community, and I a... (09/01/2019)
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