IDM Student Stories

In the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, students are making an impact in all areas of public health. Here are a few profiles and some of the latest news about our students.

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IDM Student News

Shaffer selected for the 2020 Craig Award for Excellence in Teaching

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Congratulations to Dr. John Shaffer (HUGEN '08), assistant professor of human genetics and oral biology, on being selected for the 2020 James L. Craig Award for Teaching Excellence. Craig awardees are nominated annually by students and selected by a committee of students and past awardees.   

Roberts says social distancing is our best tool in fighting COVID-19

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90.5 WESA - “If nobody ever went out and nobody ever touched anybody else, this disease could not pass at all,” said HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. He thinks the current restrictions on daily life need to continue for the time being. “If people went about their lives as normal, there would be tens of thousands of cases requiring hospitalization in western Pennsylvania alone.”  

BCHS alum Arnold on harm-reduction during the coronavirus shutdown

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PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER/SPOTLIGHT PA - At Prevention Point Pittsburgh, staff have been trying to raise awareness of COVID-19 for weeks. “If someone shows symptoms, they’re given gloves, a face mask, and extra harm reduction supplies so they can self-quarantine,” said executive director Aaron Arnold (BCHS '13). If the person wants medical help, the staff can arrange that, too. Since early March, they've been including a tip sheet in supply bags tha... 

Angus comments on top 10 ICU must-dos for COVID-19

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MEDSCAPE - In an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association issued just days after these new guidelines, Derek C. Angus, HPM distinguished professor and associate editor with JAMA, and his colleague Lamontagne of Canada say these "represent an excellent first step toward optimal, evidence-informed care for patients with COVID-19.”  

Pitt Public Health updates FRED model forecasting as state sees lower rate of hospitalizations than China

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KDKA – When will we see a COVID-19 peak? Health Secretary Rachel Levine said they’re working with Pitt’s FRED researchers to update information. Modeling infectious diseases is complex, and there are several impacting factors like how the disease is spread, the effects of social distancing, and the percent of people hospitalized. Because hospitalization rates are lower here than in China, this new data changes how the models are interpreted.  

Wenzel on the burning problem of America’s sugar cane growers

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BLOOMBERG QUINT - Sally Wenzel, EOH professor and director of Pitt Medical Center's Asthma Institute, says that “The only way to answer the question” as to whether sugarcane burning is the direct cause of the respiratory issues that residents experience “is with a better level of granularity—to do a person-based study, as opposed to a population-based study” such as the ones published so far.  

Pitt Public Health is part of Wolf’s “army of medical professionals” to address COVID-19 crisis

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PUBLICSOURCE - Gov. Wolf said the state is ramping up efforts to expand capacity in the state’s healthcare system in anticipation of a spike in COVID-19 cases. He added that the state has enough capacity to handle all of its COVID-19 cases if the state’s efforts to socially isolate individuals are successful. All of the models they have looked at, including one from Pitt Public Health' FRED program, depend on effective social distancing.  

State reaches out to Pitt health modeling to help COVID-19 response

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PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES - Health Secretary Rachel Levine specifically singled out Pitt's Framework for Epidemiological Dynamics (FRED) for help with complex population-health modeling. The program was developed to model outbreaks of communicable diseases like influenza, dengue fever, and measles, and help local and state decision makers know what interventions to take. Pennsylvania's Department of Health doesn't do that type of modeling.  

Newman finds daily aspirin does not lower Alzheimer’s risk

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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 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

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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.  

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IDM Student Profiles

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Meet Kelsey Simon (IDM '20), Dean's Scholar 

Meet Kelsey Simon (IDM '20), Dean's Scholar

With a keen interest in biology and medicine since childhood, Kelsey Simon (IDM '20) planned to pursue a graduate degree in the hard sciences until a course requirement got her thinking about working at a population level. "I … really wanted a career where I could put all of these things together: ... (02/20/2019)
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Celebrate 70: DeLucia presents cholesterol regulation of HIV-1 trans infection and HIV-1 disease progression (VIDEO) 

Celebrate 70: DeLucia presents cholesterol regulation of HIV-1 trans infection and HIV-1 disease progression (VIDEO)

Doctoral candidate, DIANA DeLUCIA (IDM '19), presented some of her dissertation research on how the cholesterol levels in immune cells might be impacting HIV infection and disease progression to AIDS. It was found that antigen-presenting cells in nonprogressors have lower cholesterol levels which i... (04/19/2018)
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Meet Joanna Shaw (IDM ’18), Dean’s Scholar 

Meet Joanna Shaw (IDM ’18), Dean’s Scholar

Unsure of whether to pursue an MD, a PhD, or both, incoming Dean's Scholar JOANNA SHAW chose Pitt Public Health's Department of Infections Diseases and Microbiology to further develop her research and lab skills while she solidifies her research and career plans... (10/06/2016)
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Rodriguez serves on raccoon oral rabies vaccination team 

Rodriguez serves on raccoon oral rabies vaccination team

As a participant in the Allegheny County Health Department’s Pittsburgh Summer Institute (ACHD PSI), Samantha Rodriguez (IDM) helped to plan, execute, and review the county’s Raccoon Oral Rabies Vaccination (ORV) Program, as well as assisted with ORV distribution. (09/08/2016)
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Lowery conducts West Nile Virus surveillance with ACHD 

Lowery conducts West Nile Virus surveillance with ACHD

Joel Lowery (IDM ’17) assisted the ACHD in conducting its annual surveillance of West Nile Virus (WNV) in order to make informed decisions on vector control related to mosquitoes. In addition to WNV, the team monitored Aedes albopictus , a possible mosquito vector for the Zika virus. Lowery was ... (09/07/2016)
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Recent Publications

Inefficient HIV-1 trans infection of CD4+ T cells by macrophages from HIV-1 nonprogressors is associated with altered membrane cholesterol and DC-SIGN 

Inefficient HIV-1 trans infection of CD4+ T cells by macrophages from HIV-1 nonprogressors is associated with altered membrane cholesterol and DC-SIGN

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY - Delucia, Rinaldo, Rappocciolo demonstrate that the use of SIMV to decrease macrophage-mediated virus transfer should be considered for future HIV therapeutic development.  (05/18/2018)

Widespread virus replication in alveoli drives acute respiratory distress syndrome in aerosolized H5N1 influenza infection of macaques 

Widespread virus replication in alveoli drives acute respiratory distress syndrome in aerosolized H5N1 influenza infection of macaques

JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY - Wonderlich, Swan, Bissel, Hartman, Carney, O'Malley, Obadan, Santos, Walker, Sturgeon, Frye, Maiello, Scanga, Bowling, Duangkhae, Wiley, Flynn, Wang, Cole, Reed, Barratt-Boyes establish a new nonhuman primate disease model for evaluation of vaccine and therapeutic approaches... (02/14/2018)

IDM Student Videos

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Celebrate 70: DeLucia presents cholesterol regulation of HIV-1 trans infection and HIV-1 disease progression (VIDEO) 

Celebrate 70: DeLucia presents cholesterol regulation of HIV-1 trans infection and HIV-1 disease progression (VIDEO)

Doctoral candidate, DIANA DeLUCIA (IDM '19), presented some of her dissertation research on how the cholesterol levels in immune cells might be impacting HIV infection and disease progression to AIDS. It was found that antigen-presenting cells in nonprogressors have lower cholesterol levels which i... (04/19/2018)
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