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Mertz of Allegheny County Health Department answers questions about coronavirus preparations (video)

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WTAE - “We expect to detect cases in Pennsylvania during the coming weeks,” said Kristen Mertz, medical epidemiologist with the Allegheny County Health Department and adjunct faculty at Pitt Public Health. She’s most concerned about outbreaks at long-term health care facilities as well as other places with a large amount of elderly people because “that population is so vulnerable.”  

2020 Best Oral Presentation Honorable Mention - Luna Wei

Congratulations to doctoral student Yue (Luna) Wei (BIOS '21) on winning Best Oral Presentation Honorable Mention at the annual Biostatistics Research Day on February 27 for her work on “A Simultaneous Inference Procedure to Identify Subgroups in Targeted Therapy Development with Time-to-event Outcomes.”   

Gellad believes extended-release drugs could be costing U.S. healthcare system billions

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REUTERS - What’s interesting about this paper is the concept of trying to reduce medication cost by switching drugs rather than trying to get a decrease in price from the pharmaceutical company, said Walid Gellad. “There are many instances where people could use the short-acting form and wouldn’t be burdened with side effects and would do just as well as with the extended-release form. One of the main messages for clinicians is that we should al... 

Did a woman get coronavirus twice? Burke is skeptical.

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WIRED - News reports detailing the case raised the possibility that people may not be developing immunity to the new coronavirus, even after they’ve recovered. But Donald Burke, dean emeritus and international infectious disease specialist, says there’s not enough data to support that conclusion. “The question is really: How good is the proof? And we’re a long way away from anything solid. What we need is the sequence of the virus.”  

Multistate investigation of Juul could mean a settlement sooner than later, experts say

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PGH POST-GAZETTE - An investigation agreement by 39 states into Juul, the company blamed for the teenage vaping epidemic, has ramped up pressure to reach a global settlement. “I think at this point we’re at that stage in this process that there is enough feeling that this goes across party lines and is a national problem,” comments HPM's Tina Batra Hershey. Kar-Hai Chu studies social media’s role in the popularity of vaping among teenagers and... 

Roberts and Hoffman featured in Hulu documentary on anti-vaccine movement

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HULU - Available now on the streaming service, Vice Investigates “Anti-Vaxx Fever” explores the growing anti-vaccine movement. The documentary features in-depth looks at the varied work of professor Mark Roberts and of student Beth Hoffman (BCHS ’19 ’23). Each uses system science methods to investigate the dangers of this movement, generating compelling images that are powerful tools for communicating science to the public.  

Garland selected for PA Trauma Prevention Recognition Award

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BCHS's Richard Garland was selected to receive a Trauma Prevention Recognition Award from the American Trauma Society, Pennsylvania Division. Awards are granted annually to individuals or groups who have gone beyond the call of duty in trauma prevention and who exemplify the goals of the ATSPA in preventing needless deaths and injuries.   

O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role

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PITTWIRE - Pitt Public Health staff member Scott O'Neal recently took center stage to sing the title role in the world premiere of "Satan's Fall," composed by Steward Copeland, founder of the iconic New Wave band The Police. The metal opera, based on "Paradise Lost", was co-commissioned by the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, where O'Neal sings bass as part of the group's professional core. The choir includes Pitt staffers Matt Borkowski (also f... 

King confirms relapse is common for bariatric surgery patients who quit smoking

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NEWS-MEDICAL – “Smoking cessation prior to surgery is strongly recommended to reduce surgical complications. But there isn't the same emphasis on maintaining cessation after surgery. Our findings show that there is a need for ongoing support in order to reduce and quickly respond to relapses," says EPI’s Wendy King, lead author of a study published in Annals of Surgery. Just as gastric bypass increases the risk of alcohol use disorder due to cha... 

Alumna profile: Diane Peterson

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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 circuitous approach I took, I think the program did a marvelous job of providing me a well-rounded education.” Hear reflections on her highly successful... 

Angus on the evaluation of machine learning in medical practice

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MEDPAGE TODAY – The chair of Pitt Med’s Department of Critical Care Medicine, Derek Angus (BCHS '92), sees the need for more evaluation of machine learning in medical practice. Just as computer scientists wrestle with the curse of dimensionality when generating an AI algorithm, clinical investigators wrestle similarly when evaluating the utility of the algorithm. Such evaluation could overwhelm standard RCT designs.  

Pitt Public Health partners to train and certify health workers for at-risk neighborhoods

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – Medical outcomes would improve significantly if nonmedical personnel could help patients handle tasks such as booking follow-up appointments and establishing medication schedules. Thanks to a new funding award, Pitt Public Health will partner with the Southwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center to provide a 100-hour curriculum to train workers and provide them with state certification to address the need. The pr... 

Hernandez explains why some Americans are forced into bankruptcy to pay for prescriptions

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THE GUARDIAN – A 2019 report published in the journal Health Affairs found drug costs are driven largely by pharmaceutical manufacturers’ year-on-year price hikes on drugs already on the market rather than by innovation, as often claimed by the industry. Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM ’16), lead author of the study, says, “Our results are relevant from a policy perspective because they show that price increases do not necessarily reflect innovation o... 

Braund coauthors American Heart Association's Call to Action on Rural Health

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With this advisory, the American Heart Association is calling for a sustained commitment of health care and other stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels to work together to improve rural health. HPM's Wendy Braund was among the authors stating, "understanding and addressing the unique health needs of people residing in rural America is critical to the American Heart Association's commitment to health equity and its focus on social... 

Meet HPM alum Mina Kabiri

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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 orthopedics, bio-surgery, and cardiovascular medical devices.   

Thurston on why your hot flashes may put you at risk for heart disease

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CAPE COD HEALTH NEWS - Women who reported more persistent hot flashes over the course of the menopausal transition were associated with an 80 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease events. EPI's Rebecca Thurston, lead investigator on a study of more than 3,000 women for 20 years, called the magnitude of the increased risks “substantial.” She says, “The [hot flashes] are telling us something about the health of women’s cardiovascular s... 

Samargandy and El Khoudary find that running can help aging women at increased risk of heart disease

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RUNNER’S WORLD – New research adds to growing evidence that the menopause transition is a critical stage for the acceleration of cardiovascular disease risk, according to lead author and epidemiology doctoral student Saad Samargandy. Senior author and associate epidemiology professor Samar El Khoudary says these shifts may be related to hormonal changes affecting arteries and veins that carry blood throughout the body, but exercise can be crucia... 

Hartman & Mertz serve on global coronavirus panel

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TRIB LIVE –  Experts from multiple disciplines gather to discuss the outbreak of novel coronavirus COVID-19. Panelists include IDM’s Amy Hartman, who studies emerging viruses and diseases transmitted from animals to people and then among people; and ACHD medical epidemiologist Kristen Mertz, who also serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Pitt Public Health. “Information is coming out very quickly and it’s hard to … know the facts,” Hartman... 

Mertz joins Pitt experts to dispel myths about Coronavirus

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KDKA – During the information session, Kristen Mertz, assistant professor of epidemiology and medical epidemiologist at the Allegheny County Health Department, highlighted more aggressive measures currently in place to prevent spreading the disease. “Those are really the travel ban for foreign nationals so they are not coming to the U.S. and restrictions on U.S. citizens and residents who have been overseas,” Mertz said.  

As a Pennsylvanian with a disability, Tomko is forced to choose between higher pay and essential benefits

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PUBLICSOURCE - Until salary caps are removed, Heather Tomko (HPM ’19) must constantly choose between her career and her health. Right now, people with disabilities are barred from positions of power and influence because they can’t afford the accompanying salary. Without people with disabilities in these positions, the needs of people with disabilities aren’t represented in policy.  

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University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions 

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

PITTWIRE - The new Healthcare Advisory Group, headed by Anantha Shekhar, new senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of Pitt Med, will monitor the health status of the campus and ensure compliance with legal regulations. Members, including HPM’s Mark Roberts, EPI’s Anne Newman, EOH’... (06/17/2020)
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O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role 

O'Neal Summons Satan for Starring Role

PITTWIRE - Pitt Public Health staff member Scott O'Neal recently took center stage to sing the title role in the world premiere of "Satan's Fall," composed by Steward Copeland, founder of the iconic New Wave band The Police. The metal opera, based on "Paradise Lost", was co-commissioned by the Mend... (02/24/2020)
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Parker elected Hastings Center fellow 

Parker elected Hastings Center fellow

PITTWIRE - HUGEN's Lisa Parker was recently elected fellow to The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of research scholars studying ethical questions in medicine, science and technology that help inform policy, practice and public understanding. Parker, along with Robert Arnold o... (02/05/2020)


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Why are minorities getting hit harder by COVID-19? Partly because of systemic racism, says Gary-Webb 

Why are minorities getting hit harder by COVID-19? Partly because of systemic racism, says Gary-Webb

THE MORNING CALL - EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb, member of the Pittsburgh Black Covid-19 Equity Coalition, said there is a lack of robust and accessible testing, and that testing sites are not concentrated in communities of color. “We know that there’s disproportionate impacts, so we really think interv... (07/15/2020)