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Aparna Ramani: Social justice warrior and award winner

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In recognition of her dedication to promoting social justice across the University of Pittsburgh and the broader community, Aparna Ramani (HPM ’23), has been awarded this year’s Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement. The award, created in memory of philosopher and social theorist Iris Young, recognizes that social activism takes many forms and can be pursued in many ways. Aparna is the embodiment of this philosophy.  

Burke selected to participate in Academic Leaders Network program

BCHS’ Jessica Burke has been selected to participate in the 2021-2022 ACC Academic Leaders Network (ALN) program. This exciting collaborative leadership program is for faculty at ACC institutions who aspire to leadership roles in higher education.  

Roberts: reduced natural immunity could mean flu more common

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THE WEATHER CHANNEL - Getting your flu vaccine can help improve your immunity to the flu significantly. But HPM’s Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, worries that since natural immunity from exposure is where the bulk of population immunity comes from, the US may be in for a particularly virulent flu season.  

Sundermann discusses collaborative paper on artificial intelligence and disease prediction

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KDKA RADIO – Alex Sundermann (IDM ‘14, EPI ‘22) explains that one in thirty patients gets at least one health care-associated infection – one acquired while in the hospital. “Typical tests see what type of organism it is but that test doesn’t tell you, was it transmitted from a patient or from somewhere in the environment? [Genome surveillance is] like fingerprinting for that test – who has that same organism and who is transmitting to who when ... 

Meet Kayla Ortiz, Health Justice Scholar

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“At my core, I am a health educator. However, I know that we can’t address health inequities by simply looking at the individual. We must interrogate the structural and historical causes that disproportionately impact the health of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ folks,” said Kayla Ortiz (BCHS ’23).  

Effort to Reframe Climate Change as a Health Crisis Gains Steam

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NEW YORK TIMES - Research has increasingly shown that warming is taking a deadly toll on human health. At the global climate summit in Glasgow, the issue has gained new prominence. For the first time at a major United Nations climate conference, human health is emerging as a leading issue, a reframing that brings climate change's far-reaching and long-lasting effects to the forefront.   

Meet Aparna Ramani, Health Justice Scholar

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“The most exciting aspect of my work is the continued mentorship, guidance, and community within the health advocacy space. As someone who has gained much insight from experienced researchers and community leaders, I hope to pass on my wisdom as a peer mentor to future public health professionals,” said Aparna Ramani (HPM ’23).  

Albert on a link between social isolation and increased inflammation

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MNT - BCHS’s Steven Albert who said, “If social isolation truly increases [the] risk of poor health by elevating immune markers, we need to redouble our efforts to reduce social isolation. The strength of the association between [the] level of isolation and IL-6 and CRP differed and only showed a dose response for CRP. This suggests a complex association. The clinical significance of the size of the association also needs further study.”  

The U.S. Is Relying On Other Countries' Data To Make Its Booster Shot Decisions

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT - Misinformation and news overload also contribute to the confusion, said EPI’s Lee Harrison. “For a lot of laypeople, it’s very difficult to know, ‘What source should I be using?’ And it’s even more difficult when you have all this misinformation trying to intentionally misguide people,” he said. State and local officials who undermine national policies — for example, by prohibiting vaccine mandates — don’t help, either.  

Drake on Pennsylvanians buying health insurance having more affordable options

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WITF - Though options may be so abundant that selecting coverage for 2022 might be a bit overwhelming and cause choice overload. “There comes a certain point where … the amount of choices increases so much that it becomes cognitively difficult,” said HPM’s Coleman Drake. “[I’m] not insulting people’s intelligence. It’s just hard to pick between 40 options, and people have time constraints.”  

Meet Monica Henderson, Health Justice Scholar

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“My focus on public health and equity is rooted in my lived experiences as a Black woman but more importantly, the centering of others’ experiences with oppression to let their narratives drive equity work,” explains Monica Henderson (BCHS ’22). Her interests include child health and racial equity and for her thesis she plans to explore Black hair politics and the impact on the health of Black youth.  

Meet Sarah Scott, Health Justice Scholar

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Sarah Scott (BCHS ’23) is a first year MPH student and Pittsburgh native who returned home after completing her undergraduate degree in psychology at Pepperdine University. “I am most looking forward to learning more about health equity theories and frameworks to better develop my research projects,” said Scott of joining the Health Justice Scholars program.  

Meet Amy Raslevich, Health Justice Scholar

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“I am honored to be a part of the Health Justices Scholars program to continue learning racial health equity frameworks and approaches, and to expand my network in the region as we work to break down silos related to the social determinants of health and to improving the health system for those for whom it does not work,” said Amy Raslevich (HPM ‘22).  

A Move to Rein In Cancer-Causing 'Forever Chemicals'

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NEW YORK TIMES - Michael Regan, the EPA administrator, wants to limit a class of chemicals that has been linked to cancer and is found in everything from drinking water to furniture. The Biden administration said it would require chemical manufacturers to test and pubilcly report the amount of a family of chemicals known as PFAS that is contained in household items like tape, nonstick pans and stain-resistant furniture, the first step toward red... 

Diana Bellino, Bob Yee Scholarship Awardee

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A native of Hanover Park, IL, Diana Bellino is pursuing an MPH with a concentration in infectious disease management, intervention, and community practice. She studied public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is interested in cooking, painting/crafting, and anything outside.   

Samhita Ravi, Bob Yee Scholarship Awardee

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A native of South Brunswick, NJ, Samhita Ravi is pursuing an MPH with a concentration in infectious disease pathogenesis, eradication, and laboratory practice. She studied microbiology at Pitt and is interested in basketball, running, hanging out with friends, and going on hikes.   

Rebecca Boan, Bob Yee Scholarship Awardee

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A native of Phoenix, AZ, Rebecca Boan is pursuing an MS in infectious diseases and microbiology. She studied biology at Northern Arizona University and is interested in archery, crocheting, and working with animals.   

The road forward: All eyes now on Gainey to begin to address city's larger issues

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - During his campaign, Gainey often focused on task force reports, one of which says that their needs to be a shift in the police bureau. BCHS’s Richard Garland, a member of the task force, said the report showed officers needed more training – particularly in de-escalation techniques – and a better understanding of their communities. He said officers do need to walk the beats and their neighborhoods.  

Ganguli op-ed: Masking still makes sense for vaccinated individuals

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In a recent Op-Ed from Mary Ganguli (EPI '87) says, "We all know there’s just too much information out there: some of it changing over time, some of it well-intended but misguided and some of it deliberate misinformation. It can be confusing and overwhelming. As a medical doctor and professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, I’d like to try to cut through that confusion."   

Now that your younger children can get a COVID-19 vaccine, here's how to be fully vaccinated by Christmas and Kwanzaa

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CNN - Many doctors, including Diego Chaves-Gnecco (MMPH ‘00), are encouraging their patients' parents to vaccinate as soon as possible in hopes of protecting children and those around them. Chaves-Gnecco, who is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, plans on bringing together his mother and his 7-year-old son this holiday season for the first time since the start of the pandemic -- after the latter gets vaccinated.  

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Cen named to Pitt's Board of Trustees 

Cen named to Pitt's Board of Trustees

PITTWIRE - Among the latest to be added to Pitt's Board of Trustees is alumna Hui (Debra) Cen (IDM '91). Cen is a biologist, biotech entrepreneur, Rotarian and social entrepreneur who did biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, the University of California, San Francisco and Chiro... (07/12/2021)
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BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials 

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers... (02/24/2021)
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Covid vaccine misinformation target of Pitt study 

Covid vaccine misinformation target of Pitt study

KDKA CBS NEWS — Fueled by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pitt researchers are studying and combating false online information about vaccines. “Vaccines are often the victim of their own success,” said BCHS doctoral student Beth Hoffman, a research assistant at the Center for Resea... (02/01/2021)