News

Fabisiak/Brink study highlights environmental injustice in Pittsburgh: Poor, minority neighborhoods see higher rates of deaths from air pollution

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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS – EOH's James Fabisiak EPI's LuAnn Brink (IDM '98, EPI '96) estimate that 40 percent of the county's air pollution-related heart disease deaths occur where 20 percent or more individuals live in poverty and/or 30 percent or more are a racial minority. Study data will be used to evaluate the impact of environmental justice on the health of our county communities.  

Lawmakers vote to end Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency, but Gov. Wolf says it’s not over. Burke is concerned.

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PENN LIVE - Epidemiologist Donald Burke said, “The reason our case rates are as low as they are right now is exactly because of these emergency orders and the business closures and mitigation efforts that have followed. To pull back completely from these protections now… would be unwise in the extreme, and bordering on suicidal,” Burke said. “I really feel that strongly about it.”  

Gary-Webb on the new Pittsburgh coalition tackling racial inequities and the pandemic

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WESA - Coalition scientists have pushed to get more coronavirus testing into communities of need. To get that done, EPI’s Tiffany Gary-Webb said they mapped out where Black families live in poverty and lack access to quality medical care, and then created an overlay showing where the federally qualified county health centers were located. That model allowed the council to effectively increase access to testing within that area.  

When 511 epidemiologists expect to fly, hug and do 18 other everyday activities again: Mair weighs in

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NEW YORK TIMES – A group of 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists were asked when they expect to resume daily life activities. On the question of sending a child to school, camp, or day care, BCHS’ Christina Mair responded that she’d do it this summer because she’s “willing to take more risks with this, even though it's not a low-risk activity, as it is more 'necessary' than other, lower-risk activities.”  

Rappocciolo responds to possibility that cholesterol could be the culprit in COVID-19 deaths

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE – The study is plausible, says IDM’s Giovanna Rappocciolo, but “rough around the edges”— a situation that could be remedied through the peer-review process. "If the research is verified, then COVID-19 potentially could be treated by manipulating cholesterol levels, with drugs already available. “It opens up a new field of study to try to exploit these pathways to stop the infection of cells.”  

ASPPH Statement: Racism is a Public Health Crisis

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Pandemic. Economic collapse. Struggle for civil rights and equity. These are synergistic conditions which, in tandem, have enormous implications for public health. And, sadly, they all expose the continuing problem of injustice, inequality, and structural and systemic racism in America. Read the response statement from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.  

Contract tracing: Haggerty compares app to human approaches

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PITTSBURGH CURRENT - EPI’s Catherine Haggerty says, “A key strength of active case investigation is that instructions can be immediately shared and explained. Additional continued monitoring of close contacts provides public health officials an ability to quickly identify if symptoms develop among close contacts so that testing and isolation can be rapidly implemented if needed.”  

Chancellor Gallagher shares his outrage, grief, and solidarity

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In a letter to the community, Chancellor Gallagher shares his outrage, grief, and anger. He challenges us all to demonstrate solidarity by standing with Pitt’s African American students, faculty, staff, and alumni in a shared commitment to realizing meaningful change. "How many times must we witness these blatant examples of injustice, hatred, brutality, and discrimination before we resolve to change things?"  We must plot a path forward.  ... 

A message from the school on racism as a public health crisis

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We all must condemn, in the strongest terms possible, abuses of power by those charged with enforcing the law. At the same time, we must also confront the long-standing and fundamental issues that these tragic killings and the simultaneous coronavirus pandemic have made so evident. Systemic discrimination and racial disparities continue to plague our country. Real and meaningful change is long overdue.  

A message from Senior Vice Chancellor Anantha Shekhar

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"We recognize that health care, as many systems and institutions, has a deeply flawed history and that the health of many people in this nation are impacted by ongoing injustice and inequity related to the places they live, the air they breathe, the education they receive, the jobs they do, and the biases of the people they encounter every day...We are increasing our attention to addressing bias, both conscious and unconscious, in our faculty, s... 

Papalia receives PhD in Kinesiology from Penn State

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Congratulations to Zack Papalia who received his PhD in Kinesiology at the 2019 winter commencement at Penn State University. Papalia earned his Master of Public Health from the Department of Health Policy and Management in 2012.  

Dutta awarded scholarship from U.S. State Department

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Congratulations to Justin A. Dutta (IDM '19, HUGEN '23) who was recently awarded a Critical Languages Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study Portuguese. With an acceptance rate of less than 10%, the Critical Language Scholarship is one of the country's most competitive scholarships and the most prestigious language program for U.S. citizens.   

Omowale awarded NIH research supplement

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Serwaa Omowale (BCHS ’22), a joint PhD Social Work/MPH student, is the recipient of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) diversity supplement, which will support her work with Dara Mendez of the Department of Epidemiology through 2021. Omowale’s work focuses on understanding, addressing, and improving maternal health and birth outcomes among Black women.  

Hoffman says scientists and vaccination proponents need to get better at engaging on social media to combat vaccine misinformation

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INSIDER – As the anti-vaccine movement grows on social media, Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19, '23) talks about the importance of public health professionals having an active presence on social media. Now is the time for more scientists to find creative ways to get information out to combat conspiracy theories. We shouldn't wait for the COVID-19 vaccine to be ready to before sharing accurate information about vaccines.  

EOH's Social Justice Bookshelf

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Encouraged by the activism of MD/PhD candidate Alexander Schuyler, EOH Chair Sally Wenzel employed the technical savvy of EOH IT Manager Adam Orbell to create the digital EOH Social Justice Bookshelf. Many of the titles are available to read online for those in the Pitt community with Pitt Passport access. Check out the recommended readings, as well as another new feature, a spotlight on EOH faculty journal publications.   

EPI's commitment to anti-racism

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"We pledge not only to critically evaluate, investigate, and remove racism in our work and institution, but also advocate for Black students, staff, and faculty in a way that is accountable and sustainable."  

Understanding and Addressing the COVID-19 Infodemic

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Since the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, social media misinformation appears to be spreading faster than the virus itself, prompting the WHO to declare an "infodemic" of misinformation. During this conversation, BCHS's Steve Albert and Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19 '23) will discuss how COVID-19 related misinformation fits within the framework of science denialism, and provide strategies to help public health professionals and othe... 

Di, Deslouches, and Montelaro develop promising antibiotic molecule for drug-resistant infections

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CISTIC FIBROSIS NEWS TODAY - With the rising prevalence of superbugs, researchers are turning their attention to antibiotic molecules. Study co-authors Y. Peter Di (EOH), Berthony Deslouches (EOH), and Ronald Montelaro (IDM) have engineered a cationic antimicrobial peptide named WLBU2, licensed by Pitt spin-off Peptilogics, that's now in a clinical trial for preventing infections associated with knee and hip replacements.  

Felter on informing the public when COVID-19 guidelines keep changing

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90.5 WESA - “It’s really challenging from a communications standpoint,” said BCHS’ Elizabeth Felter. For example, the World Health Organization started using “physical distancing" instead of “social distancing” because it’s important to be physically distant but still be socially connected.  It's difficult to change this kind of public health messaging once its use has become so widespread.  

Public health systems hold promise for aging populations, journal finds

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In a new special issue of the journal Innovation in Aging from The Gerontological Society of America, researchers look at public health interventions that work to foster healthy aging. "Public health faces the challenge of designing, assessing, translating, and implementing programs that push interventions out to aging subpopulations that span a broad continuum of health and vulnerability," wrote Deputy Editor-in-Chief Steven M. Albert and Guest... 

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Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research 

Mendez receives national recognition for maternal and child health research

PITTWIRE - The Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and 15 national health organizations selected EPI's Dara Mendez as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Effective Practice at the Community Level. Mendez specializes in understanding and addressing racial and socioecon... (09/07/2020)
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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)


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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Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks  

Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NEWS -  Food banks in the U.S. are on course for a preventable collision between record-setting food insecurity and lead-contaminated meat. Though hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to U.S. food banks, a lack of oversight could result in potentially hundreds of thousa... (10/15/2020)