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Harrison co-authors Conversation piece - Massive numbers of new COVID-19 infections, not vaccines, are the main driver of new coronavirus variants

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THE CONVERSATION – The rise of coronavirus variants globally has highlighted the huge influence evolutionary biology has on daily life. But how mutations, random chance, and natural selection produce variants is a complicated process. What EPI and IDM’s Lee Harrison and a Pitt Medicine colleague have learned over the past 18 months of following how the coronavirus has acquired different mutations around the world.  

Harrison talks about when boosters might be available to the general public

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PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW - "What they're aiming for is starting September 20, eight months after the second dose. I'm hoping the rollout will go smoothly starting on that date. The process is authorization by FDA for a booster dose, and then ACIP makes the recommendation about the booster dose." said EPI's Lee Harrison.   

People who already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated, scientists like Hartman urge

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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - For instance, says IDM's Amy Hartman, studies have shown that some recovered patients can mount effective defenses against COVID-19, but antibody levels dropped rapidly in others who were infected. Scientists are still gathering data and racing to answer this key question and others, such as how long immunity lasts from vaccines or from natural infection.  

Meet our Faculty: Velpandi Ayyavoo

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Velpandi Ayyavoo would tell any incoming student one of the most remarkable things about Pitt Public Health as a community is its resilience and ingenuity after this past year of pandemic. When viewing her career, it’s very easy to say the same thing about our interim chair for the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. Following her passion for science at a young age, Ayyavoo has poured over 30 years into her HIV-1 research and... 

COVID Cases Still Low in Allegheny County, While Opioid Overdoses Continue to Plague Residents

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WESA-FM - "[That's] a big loophole there in terms of potentially not having people covered who are sick," said board chair IDM and EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Mellors: COVID-19 Immune Response Could be Long Lasting, but Variants Present Risks

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - Studies show that variants including Delta can partially evade immune response from infection and vaccination. "Give the virus time and opportunity, we don't know what will arise," said IDM's John Mellors chief of infectious diseases at UPMC.   

Hartman Selected as Fellow for New Scialog: Mitigating Zoonotic Threats

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RESCORP - Research Corporation for Science Advancement will bring together a multidisciplinary group of early-career researchers to address the global threat to human health from animal-borne infectious diseases as part of its new Scialog initiative, Mitigating Zoonotic Threats. IDM's Amy Hartman with the Center for Vaccine Research has been selecteed as one of the 2021 fellows. Congratulations!   

Meet our Faculty: Jessie Burke

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Jessie Burke wears many hats at Pitt Public Health, one being the interim chair for the Department of  Infectious Diseases and Microbiology . Her passion for scholarship and public health is only matched by her appetite for her homemade chili (which she got pretty good at making courtesy of COVID-19).  

Nachega among experts looking at 'Shocking imbalance' of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, underscoring inequity

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HEALIO - IDM and EPI's Jean Nachega and colleagues published a perspective in The New England Journal of Medicine that said concerns about access to COVID-19 vaccines in Africa resemble concerns regarding access to ART for HIV in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, when it was more accessible in high-income countries than African countries – “a disparity that resulted in many preventable deaths in these high-burden settings,” they wrote.  

Salk Opinion: Ready for this pandemic to end? Here are three things we should all be doing.

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SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE - In a recent opinion piece, IDM's Peter Salk lays out three things: get vaccinated, continue with cautious mitigation strategies, and remember that anything we do as a nation to help quell the virus elsewhere will be good for everyone. "We have come a long way in over a year. An end to the pandemic may not yet be on our doorstep, but it should be not very far beyond the horizon," said Salk.   

CDC Limits Review of Vaccinated But Infected. Harrison Among Those to Express Concern

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BLOOMBERG - Clinical trials weren’t designed to study how the vaccines perform in specific subgroups and people with certain medical conditions weren’t included, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, also with Pitt Medicine.   

Leadership transitions

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Dean Lichtveld announced upcoming leadership changes: Steve Albert to step down as BCHS chair with Velpandi Ayyavoo to serve as interim chair; Eleanor Feingold to become vice dean, Jessie Burke to interim as Feingold receives American Council on Education Fellowship. Dan Weeks will be interim chair of HUGEN.   

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Pitt Public Health team wins third place at Morningside International Global Health Case Competition

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In collaboration with the Center for Global Health, Pitt held its first-ever Global Health Case Competition last fall. Pitt supported the winning team from that competition to enter Emory University's Morningside International Global Health Case Competition. Emily Crisan (BCHS '24) joined five undergraduate students and faculty mentor HPM's Elizabeth Van Nostrand and won third place out of 53 teams from across the U.S. for their plan and strateg... 

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Recent IDM Publications

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Rubio publishes thesis in Antimicrobial Agents and Therapy 

Rubio publishes thesis in Antimicrobial Agents and Therapy

Abigail Rubio (IDM '20) recently published In vitro Susceptibility of Multidrug-Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa following Treatment-emergent Resistance to Ceftolozane-tazobactam, comparing the in vitro susceptibility of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates 34 collected before and af... (04/20/2021)

Zika-related adverse outcomes in a cohort of pregnant women with rash in Pernambuco, Brazil 

Zika-related adverse outcomes in a cohort of pregnant women with rash in Pernambuco, Brazil

Multiple authors on behalf of the Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group, including IDM's Ernesto Marques, found the frequency of microcephaly in their results is consistent with previous studies. In addition, as children were evaluated at a later age and repeatedly by different groups of specialists... (03/19/2021)

SARS-CoV-2 infection of African green monkeys results in mild respiratory disease discernible by PET/CT imaging and shedding of infectious virus from both respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts 

SARS-CoV-2 infection of African green monkeys results in mild respiratory disease discernible by PET/CT imaging and shedding of infectious virus from both respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts

Amy L. Hartman, Sham Nambulli, Cynthia M. McMillen, Alexander G. White, Natasha Louise Tilston-Lunel, Joseph R. Albe, Emily Cottle, Matthew D. Dunn, L. James Frye, Theron H. Gilliland, Emily L. Olsen, Katherine J. O’Malley, Madeline M. Schwarz, Jaime A. Tomko, Reagan C. Walker, Mengying Xia, Matthe... (11/17/2020)

Rapid 3D Enhanced Resolution Microscopy Reveals Diversity in Dendritic Spinule Dynamics, Regulation, and Function 

Rapid 3D Enhanced Resolution Microscopy Reveals Diversity in Dendritic Spinule Dynamics, Regulation, and Function

Colleen R. Zaccard, Lauren Shapiro, Maria D. Martin-de-Saavedra, Christopher Pratt, Kristoffer Myczek, Amy Song, Marc P. Forrest, Peter Penzes Dendritic spinules are thin protrusions, formed by neuronal spines, not adequately resolved by diffraction-limited light microscopy, which has limit... (11/17/2020)
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Prevalence and correlates of prep awareness and use among black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in the United States 

Prevalence and correlates of prep awareness and use among black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) in the United States

AIDS AND BEHAVIOR - Friedman, MR, Sang, JM, Bukowski, LA, Chandler, CJ, Egan, JE, Eaton, LA, Matthews, DD, Ho, K, Raymond, HF, & Stall, R. found that PrEP awareness campaigns tailored for black men who have sex with men and women (MSMW), concomitant with STI-to-PrEP interventions, will facilitate g... (10/14/2019)
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Contrasting roles of the PD-1 signaling pathway in dendritic cell-mediated induction and regulation of HIV-1-specific effector T cell functions 

Contrasting roles of the PD-1 signaling pathway in dendritic cell-mediated induction and regulation of HIV-1-specific effector T cell functions

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY - Using samples from participants in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort study, Garcia-Bates, Palma, Shen, Gambotto, Macatangay, Ferris, Rinaldo, and Mailliard showed that PD-1 activation plays a positive role in initiating the primary T cell response. But later blocking of that pathway... (12/13/2018)

Development of antibody biomarkers of long term and recent dengue virus infections 

Development of antibody biomarkers of long term and recent dengue virus infections

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGICAL METHODS - BURKE, MARQUES, and colleagues discuss anti-dengue NS1-specific IgG and IgG3 as potential biomarkers of long-term and recent (less than 6 months) DENV infections, respectively.  (06/14/2018)

Tradition and innovation in development of a Zika vaccine 

Tradition and innovation in development of a Zika vaccine

THE LANCET - MARQUES and BURKE comment about two Zika vaccines in clinical development and describe the challenges ahead. (06/14/2018)