News

Two-for-one vaccine clinics fight flu and Covid, too

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CNN - Since there were relatively few flu cases last year, scientists including HPM's Mary Krauland and Kyu Lee have predicted in a pre-print paper that there will be a "large compensatory" flu season this year. A model based on previous flu seasons projects in the paper that there could be 102,000 additional hospitalizations this upcoming season due to flu illnesses, which corresponds to a 20% increase compared with the average number of hospit... 

Allegheny County breakthrough cases increasing, but vaccinated still avoid serious illness

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PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE - The jab also appears to have a slight reduction in effectiveness against the delta variant compared to prior dominant virus strains, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison. But it should still protect people from severe disease if they do become infected. "I think what it tells us most clearly is, if we can get the rest of the population vaccinated, it will turn COVID into more of a nuisance than a major cause of hospitalizati... 

Biden's Mandate Requires Weekly COVID-19 Testing for Unvaccinated Employees. That Will Get Expensive.

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WESA - "There are arguments that say...if they're not willing to get a fully authorized, now-approved vaccine, then they need to bear the brunt of the cost," said HPM's Tina Batra Hershey.  

People Living with HIV the focus of two NIH awards to Pitt Public Health researchers

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From social stigma to the high prevalence of concurrent chronic diseases, people living with HIV (PLWH) are faced with a multitude of challenges.  Two National Institute of Health grants recently awarded to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health will provide valuable data to better intervene on their behalf.   

Sexual Assault Linked to Later Brain Damage in Women, Study Finds

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CNN - "It could be either childhood sexual abuse or adult sexual assault," said study author EPI’s Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory. "Based upon population data, most women have their sexual assaults when they are in early adolescence and early adulthood," she added, "so these are likely early experiences that we're seeing the marks of later in life."  

Floods Have Swamped the US. The Next Health Problem: Mold

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WIRED - A summer of floods means mold and fungi are to follow. Yet we lack proper surveillance systems for mold infections and that leads to a data gap that increases the burden of these infections, particularly on marginalized groups. “We cannot isolate the impact of a natural disaster from historic burdens of health disparities, whether they are in the Gulf Coast or in the Caribbean or in New Jersey,” says Dean Maureen Lichtveld.  

Sevco named president of UPMC Hospitals

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UPMC - Mark Sevco (HPM '91) will assume the role of president, UPMC Hospitals, comprised of 40 academic, community and specialty hospitals and co-lead the Health Services Division. Sevco currently is president, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, which is nationally ranked as a top-ten pediatric hospital by U.S. News. He has served UPMC for 30 years in various capacities including chief operating officer of UPMC Pinnacle, president UPMC East... 

Cornelio awarded Dissertation Grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

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Noelle Cornelio (HPM '22) was awarded a Health Services Research Dissertation R36 grant from AHRQ to support her dissertation project, "Impact of Medicaid Policies on Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries: Evidence from State Reforms." Approximately 12 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries are dually enrolled in Medicaid, and this research will help inform policy by providing insights into the effects of changing Medicaid eligibility rules on en... 

Hoffman says look to influencers to fight vaccine misinformation

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CODA - Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19, ‘22) said public health institutions should be thinking more about how to harness local influencers. She pointed to a June 2021 study by researchers with the Public Good Projects, a U.S.-based public health nonprofit, analyzing the success of a micro-influencer campaign promoting the flu shot flor Black and Latino U.S. residents during influenza seasons.   

Donohue on Planet Money: This is Your Brain on Drug Ads

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NPR - When laws changed around advertising prescription drugs to consumers in 1997, HPM Chair Julie Donohue was among those interested in studying the effects. “I was just fascinated by the rise of this new kind of promotion and the debate that ensued about whether or not it was appropriate. I think it’s clear that we are using more medicine because of direct to consumer advertising and in fact that’s what it’s designed to do.”  

Roberts - Health Care Budgets for Rural Providers—Opportunities for Payment Reform

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NEJM - HPM's Eric Roberts and a colleague present this Policy makers are beginning to test new payment models that establish budgets for rural health care providers. By implementing a fixed payment or setting a spending benchmark for health care organizations, budgets are intended to promote efficient care delivery. Rural health care systems have historically had little exposure to budget-based payment models. The emerging interest in health car... 

Chu and Hershey - Collaborative Public Health Strategies to Combat e-Cigarette Regulation Loopholes

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JAMA NETWORK - While the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported a decline in youth e-cigarette use, the use of disposable e-cigarettes has increased for children. This Viewpoint summarizes recent efforts by the FDA and state lawmakers to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic and offers a framework to further guide these efforts.  

Cat in the Lab: Feline Genomes Fuel Precision Medicine

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GEN - Leslie Lyons (HUGEN ‘91, '87), professor of comparative medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, emphasizes the importance of using the right model for studying a disease. When one thinks of the most popular and useful animal models in biomedical research, one thinks of mice and rats, followed by rabbits, dogs, monkeys, and so on.  

Donohue looks to improve access to quality care for opioid addiction

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KDKA RADIO - "Health systems are making a more concerted effort to connect people to treatment," said HPM Chair Julie Donohue. "If someone goes to the emergency department and is treated for an overdose, hospitals are getting better and connecting individual's with treatment before they leave the hospital." Long-term support is critical for treating and conquering opioid addiction.  

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.  

Odds of death for COVID-19 patients 'falling 5 percent every month,' Angus and other UPMC doctors say

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PENN LIVE - "We have found [monoclonal antibody treatments] to be remarkably safe and remarkably effective," said HPM faculty Derek Angus (BCHS '92) who is also the Mitchell P. Fink Endowed Chair of Critical Care Medicine at Pitt Medicine. UPMC is also involved in a global trial, known as REMAP, which uses a relatively new method of clinical trials to test new treatments. Angus said that the REMAP trial "helped settle the debate that hydroxychlo... 

Batra Hershey among legal experts that say Wolf administration has authority to issue mask mandate

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TRIB LIVE – Wolf is not invoking emergency powers. “We are no longer under a disaster declaration,” said HPM’s Tina Batra Hershey. “That is not what’s being invoked in this current face covering order.” Batra Hershey said the health code being cited is broad and likely supports the administration’s order. “It’s typical public health authority the Department of Health has,” she said.  

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.   

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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)