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Roberts: Flu and COVID-19 'twindemic' is possible this winter

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Using two separate models, HPM’s Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory found that without an increase in flu vaccination rates this coming winter, the U.S. could be at risk of a "twindemic" with both seasonal flu and COVID-19 cases at high levels. That possibility is due to the "rather dramatic decrease in influenza last (2020-20) season that occurred because of the COVID-19 mitigation strategi... 

Harrison on possible J&J Booster

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KDKA-TV  - "I would not expect anything worrisome with a booster dose but we need to see what the data shows," said Pitt Medicine and EPI's Lee Harrison.   

U.S. Energy Firms Launching Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

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REUTERS - Energy and construction workers have some of the lowest vaccine uptake rates, according to an online survey led by EPI's Wendy King. Some 45% of extraction and construction workers said they were hesitant to get the vaccine, versus just 7.3% in the computer and mathematical professions, the May survey showed.   

Other Voices: A rush to judgment on Alzheimer's drug?

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - An op-ed from Mary Ganguli (EPI '87): Imagine that your doctor has just told that you most likely have Alzheimer’s disease, an incurable type of dementia. And then you see on the news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease called aducanumab, made by a company called Biogen. But, you also read, many doctors oppose the FDA decision. Why would anyone oppose a drug f... 

A group of moms on Facebook built an island of good-faith vaccine debate in a sea of misinformation

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THE WASHINGTON POST - People concerned about vaccine safety may be easier to convince than those who don't trust the government or medical authorities, said EPI's Wendy King (EPI '04). Earlier this year, King surveyed more than 5 million U.S. adults about their attitudes toward coronavirus vaccines. Many who said they may not or won't get vaccinated said they feared side effects – a sign they may be influenced by misinformation.  

Nace on 'interesting ride' of COVID information dissemination

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KDKA RADIO - On the topic of the recently-released information on boosters for mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities pointed out that this wasn't a shock. "There's been a lot of data from these vaccines, but also from our prior experience with other vaccines, like the flu vaccine. We know that there tends to be a drop off, not with all but some tend to have a decline in the response o... 

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.   

Meet our Research Assistants: Sarah Scott

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Sarah Scott got the opportunity to work in Elizabeth Miller's lab as a research assistant on Project Catalyst, a state project to promote IPV prevention and increase the health and safety of survivors of IPV and human trafficking. Scott is passionate about women's health, specifically the intersection of IPV, mental health, and reproductive justice. And good coffee!   

Mendez analysis shows legislation addressing racism as a public health crisis surges but lacks funding

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UPMC -  “The fact that these resolutions and declarations garnered enough support to pass in multiple state and local governments is worthy of celebration,” said lead author EPI’s Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity. “Simultaneously, it signals an opportunity to advocate for further action to eliminate racism, which has well-documented negative effects on the health of individuals and communities...  

Meet our Faculty: David Finegold

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David Finegold began his 40+ year relationship with the University of Pittsburgh as an undergrad and then receiving his MD from the School of Medicine in 1972. Working in biochemistry and pediatrics, he moved into public health as a result of collaboration in his medical work. Finegold is human genetics faculty, he is also the director of Pitt Public Health’s Multidisciplinary Master of Public Like many of you, he is ready and excited to get bac... 

PA is trying county fairs, text messages, and door-knocking to raise the vaccination rate. Success is slowly coming.

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PHILADEPHIA INQUIERER - "The issues left are vaccine hesitancy, or they don't feel there's a strong enough need to jump through the hoops they would need to to get the vaccine," said EPI's Wendy King. Her research includes a nationwide survey of more than five million respondents and suggests that while vaccine hesitancy as a whole is decreasing, there's still a consistent group of people who say they will "definitely not" get a vaccine.   

Minster on study linking genetic variant to lower obesity risk

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WITF - The research shows promise, but the success of treating obesity by targeting these genes is not guaranteed, according to HUGEN's Ryan Minster (HUGEN '11). "That's because the human body itself is extremely resistant to losing weight," Minster said. "Beyond that, most of us live in social, physical and occupational environments that foster weight gain."   

'Wisdom and Fear' Lead 90% of U.S. Seniors to COVID Vaccines

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KAISER HEALTH NEWS - HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab, cautioned that the success of the vaccination push among seniors doesn't mean others in this age group can grow complacent and think they are protected via herd immunity.   

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.  

'A war against ourselves': Why Pa. and N.J. are preparing now for a delta variant surge

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WHYY - Both PA and NJ have so far been shielded from the worst outbreaks of the delta variant but experts and new data indicate the calm is unlikely to last long. HPM's Mark Roberts said more sparsely populated areas might help slow the spread of the virus, but would not act as a shield forever. In fact, some areas in Pennsylvania already seeing the worst rates of infection are comparatively rural.  

Garland Examines Rise in Young People's Involvement in Local Violence on Hayes-Freeland show (video)

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KDKA - BCHS' Richard Garland spoke with KDKA's Lynne Hayes-Freeland about the factors that are contributing to a rise in violence among youth in Pittsburgh.  

Culyba and Chu on How to Reduce the Risk of Youth Vaping

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UPMC - Adolescents who set goals for their future and those with strong parental support are less likely to use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Senior author BCHS' Alison Culyba noted that frameworks already exist to help clinicians use future orientation and encourage parental monitoring when providing health care to young people, which bodes well for developing e-cigarette intervention programs to strengthen these protective factors. ... 

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... 

Gary-Webb is Co-Author on Equitable Data Analysis: Lessons from a COVID-19 Research Collaborative

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THE RAND BLOG - The health inequities exposed by COVID-19 underscored the importance of collecting race-stratified data to inform local policymakers and revealed major pitfalls for public health researchers relying on open-source data. These and other contributing factors led to RAND, the Black Equity Coalition, and Surgo Ventures to collaborate on a tool to report on COVID-19 vulnerability and disparities using publicly-available data in Allegh... 

"The Role of Mom's Microbes During Pregnancy" cites Gopalakrishna's work

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THE SCIENTIST - In 2019, Kathyayini Gopalakrishna (HUGEN '20) and colleagues deomonstrated the importance of bacteria-specific IgA antibodies in preventing overexpansion of Enterobacteriaceae—a classic hallmark of NEC—in the guts of preterm babies. These and other results imply that immune education in the final weeks before birth is important for babies' immune systems to tolerate friendly bacteria.  

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Two public health leaders on COVID-19 and what's next 

Two public health leaders on COVID-19 and what's next

PITTWIRE - Dean Lichtveld and Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, sat down to discuss lessons learned from the U.S. response to the pandemic and the future of the nation's health. As the United States settles into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, mas... (05/10/2022)
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Advocating for affordable health care landed these Pitt people invitations to the White House 

Advocating for affordable health care landed these Pitt people invitations to the White House

PITTWIRE - HPM's Amy Raslevich received an invitation to attend President Joe Biden’s April 5 signing of the Executive Order on Strengthening Access to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid at the White House.  The event also marked President Obama’s first public return to the White House since leav... (04/06/2022)
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New program funds research on climate change and precision public health  

New program funds research on climate change and precision public health

PITTWIRE - Congratulations to the recipients of the CTSI Pitt Public Health Trans-Disciplinary Collaboration Pilot Awards! Five teams of Co-Investigators from Pitt Public Health and School of Medicine begin research on climate change and precision public health. The collaborative pilot investigatio... (03/30/2022)