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Burke concerned that true number of U.S. coronavirus cases is far above official tally

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LOS ANGELES TIMES - Donald S. Burke, an EPI disease modeler, says that assumptions about the coronavirus’ ability to jump from person to person is especially conservative. The analysis assumed that each infected person will pass the virus along to 2.1 to 2.5 others over the course of their infection. But estimates for where it is spreading undetected has ranged between 5 and 6, so researchers may have greatly underestimated infections.  

2020 Best Poster Honorable Mention - Qing Yin

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Congratulations to doctoral candidate Qing Yin (BIOS '20) who received an honorable mention for his poster presentation at the annual Biostatistics Research Day on February 27 for his work on “Semi-parametric Shape Restricted Mixed Effect Regression Spline with Application on State-Wide Prenatal Screening Program Data.”  

Alumnus Interview: Jason Flatt

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UNLV NEWS CENTER - Pitt Public Health doctoral alumnus Jason Flatt (BCHS ’13) is helping lead efforts on human sexuality while building a research program on LGBTQ and aging at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Public Health. "One of the best things about public health is its interdisciplinary nature," according to Flatt, who says it allows him to tap into fields as diverse as sociology, medicine, nursing, and psychology.  

Bernstein warns EPA making ‘secret science’ rule more restrictive

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THE HILL - “My first reading of it as it came up was they actually made it worse,” said EOH’s Bernard Goldstein, adding that the agency will be limiting the number of studies it considers, weakening the pool of research from which it draws conclusions. “We use consensus in the scientific community to come to a judgment,” he said. “The present EPA is consistently acting in a way that destroys consensus and moves toward confrontation, and this is ... 

Beth Hoffman, using systems science and social media data

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Doctoral student Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19 '23) uses system science methods to analyze social media data related to health topics such as vaping and vaccination. Her master's thesis examining anti-vaccine sentiment on Facebook through social network analyses was featured by multiple media outlets including CNN, Newsweek, and NBC's WPXI.  

Jessica Frankeberger, modeling social-ecological contributions to postpartum opioid use

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In her dissertation work, doctoral student Jessica Frankeberger (BCHS '23) will use spatial analysis and modeling approaches to understand the social-ecological contexts that contribute to opioid use and related problems among postpartum women.  

Jessica Thompson, using systems science in community health

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Doctoral candidate Jessica Thompson (BCHS '21) is interested in community-engaged approaches, chronic disease prevention, rural and Appalachian women's health, mixed-methods research, and systems science approaches to community health research.  

Should schools close during a coronavirus outbreak? The answer isn’t obvious

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BALTIMORE SUN - Pitt researchers used data from the 2009 H1N1 outbreak to model how long schools should close in the case of a pandemic. “What we found was the optimal timing is 8 weeks from a disease transmission” standpoint, said HPM's Tina Batra Hershey, JD, MPH. Opening schools too soon might leave students vulnerable to infection. The same model might not follow for this outbreak, she warned, and it should be left to local school systems. ... 

FRED informs obvious strategies to fight the coronavirus

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A study of workers in Allegheny County, Pa., entitled “Policies to Reduce Influenza in the Workplace: Impact Assessments Using an Agent-Based Model,” published in 2013 in the American Journal of Public Health, was specifically cited in today's New York Times editorial arguing for mandatory sick leave to reduce transmision.  

McTigue finds gastric bypass boasts greater benefit for diabetics than sleeve gastrectomy

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MD MAGAZINE - Led by EPI’s Kathleen Mctigue, investigators studied 9710 diabetes patients to determine how outcomes differed between the two procedures. Results revealed patients who underwent RYGB experienced significantly greater weight loss at 1 and 5 years when compared to those who underwent SG.  This study, “Comparing the 5-Year Diabetes Outcomes of Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass,” is published in JAMA Surgery.  

Pitt Commits to Carbon Neutrality

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PITTWIRE  - As the planet’s climate changes in ways that pose daunting challenges, the University of Pittsburgh is accelerating its aggressive sustainability plan with a more ambitious goal: Become carbon neutral by 2037, Pitt’s 250th anniversary. Through partnerships, increased building and infrastructure efficiencies, expanded use of renewable energy sources and other measures, Pitt will build on previous efforts, including the greenhouse gas ... 

Pitt earns top 10 military-friendly designation for 9th consecutive year

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For the ninth consecutive year, the University of Pittsburgh has been recognized for its support for students in the military community with a 2020-2021 Military Friendly Top 10 School designation. Institutions were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey in “the longest-running most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.” Military-affiliated s... 

Gellad finds U.S. drug prices have risen three times faster than inflation

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - "Net prices are not necessarily what patients pay," said senior author Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and director of the CP3. "A lot of the discount is not going to the patient. We're seeing a lot of discussion that net prices have stabilized over the last few years, and that does appear to be the case. But the stabilization of net price comes on top of large increases over the last decade, many times faster than inflation... 

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.”  

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 HPM’s 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 sho... 

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.  

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... 

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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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Sabik sees decline in late stage cancer diagnoses after health reform law 

Sabik sees decline in late stage cancer diagnoses after health reform law

PITT WIRE - Advanced stage cancer diagnoses declined following health insurance expansion in Massachusetts, likely due to increased access to screening and diagnostic services that identified cancers earlier, according to new research led by health economists including HPM's Lindsay Sabik. “Colorec... (01/28/2020)


Featuring the latest research, opportunities, and groundbreaking developments from CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health. Review theFriday Letter submission guidelines then share your story ideas via publichealth.pitt.edu/share-news or contact phcomm@pitt.edu. 
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El Khoudary finds heart disease risk grows as women move through menopause 

El Khoudary finds heart disease risk grows as women move through menopause

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - A marker for heart disease risk considerably worsens as women transition through menopause. Black women experience this accelerated decline earlier in menopause than their white counterparts. According EPI's Samar El Khoudary, the findings add to growing evidence that menopaus... (02/10/2020)
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Sabik finds decline in advanced stage cancer diagnoses following health reform law 

Sabik finds decline in advanced stage cancer diagnoses following health reform law

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Advanced stage cancer diagnoses declined following health insurance expansion in Massachusetts, likely due to increased access to screening and diagnostic services that identified cancers earlier, according to new research led by health economists including HPM's Lindsay Sabik... (02/04/2020)
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Miller's research proves program effective in preventing dating violence with middle school students 

Miller's research proves program effective in preventing dating violence with middle school students

ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Coaching Boys Into Men, a program that seeks to prevent dating violence and sexual assault, reduces abusive behaviors among middle school male athletes toward their female peers, according to clinical trial results published in JAMA Pediatrics. The trial, examining the short- ... (01/28/2020)