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Phylogenetic Trees - What They Can (and Can't) Tell us About COVID-19

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Some of the most intriguing mysteries of the epidemic can be investigated by creating phylogenetic trees - genetic family trees of the virus. IDM's Jeremy Martinson and HUGEN and BIOST's Eleanor Feingold talk about how these trees are created and what we can and cannot learn from them. Where did the virus come from? How did it spread? How long has it been in the U.S.? And is there really a "turbo-charged" strain that is more infectious than the ... 

Roberts on agent-based modeling and finding the right balance to easing restrictions

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CLEVELAND.COM - Pitt Public Health researchers are monitoring the coronavirus through FRED , which is short for a Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics. The agent-based modeling system uses population data to represent each person in a geographic region. The FRED team is currently researching scenarios for easing social-distancing measures and reopening. The goal is to identify strategies that could be most effective.  

Is Remdesivir a New COVID-19 Standard of Care? Althouse responds to the NEJM Data

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CONTAGION LIVE – In response to concerns about analyses of the relationship between morality and time-to-recovery remdesivir data, Andrew Althouse (EPI ’13), assistant professor at Pitt’s Division of General Internal Medicine, said that “deaths were assigned a failure to recover and the ‘worst’ time possible, so this does not result in a biased estimate of recovery.”  

A Health Equity Response to COVID-19 in Allegheny County

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“When the pandemic first started, there were many of us that were worried that the toll on underserved populations, particularly African Americans where I focus, would bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19,” said EPI’s Tiffany Gary-Web. "So I started locally asking for data by race and trying to understand if what was going to happen in our area…we’re not having the same access to testing. This is just one example.”  

MAR-PHTC experts discuss "Science and Health Law: Navigating through COVID-19"

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COVID-19 is a highly infectious coronavirus that jumped from an animal host to humans in late 2019 and subsequently became a pandemic. With so much information scattered over the internet, where can reliable information be found? Faculty experts in the fields of biology, medicine, law, and informatics Jeremy Martinson, Wendy Braund, Elizabeth Van Nostrand, and Wilbert Van Panhuis each explores COVID-19 from their unique perspective.  

EPI's Mendez addresses Townhall Tuesday: What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About COVID-19

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Assistant professor of epidemiology Dara Mendez joined a panel of community leaders on this week's Townhall Tuesday: What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About COVID-19. Mendez talked about contact tracing and the importance of continued testing, particularly with regard to Allegheny County's transition to into the yellow phase and missing racial data. Researchers are working closely with multiple organizations to expand testing, including free a... 

MAAETC receives CARES Act funding to help minimize impact of pandemic on those with HIV

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MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center Receives $400,000 in CARES Act Funding to support efforts to ‘prevent or minimize the impact of this pandemic on people with HIV’  

Systemic Racism in the Time of COVID-19, Maseru on Tuskegee University Lecture Series (video)

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In the first William "Bill" Jenkins Lecture at the Department of Graduate Public Health in the College of General Medicine at Tuskegee University, CHE's Noble Maseru spoke of Jenkins' committment to social justice through workforce development and tangentially addressed bioethics. "We don't see COVID-19 as an isolated moment [and we need to be] addressing and seeking in what took place in our history so that we can move forward and not make the ... 

Maseru addresses Hill District Community Forum on COVID-19 on social equity responses to the pandemic

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On April 9, CHE Director Noble Maseru presented facts, best practices, and risks to the Black community, in addition to talking about equity and life expectancy in Pittsburgh by neighborhood. View the slides or watch the presentation.   

Gellad comments on the therapies being developed to combat the new coronavirus

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THE OREGONIAN - Hundreds of COVID-19 treatment drugs are being studied and some experts say scientists should cast a wide net. “I don’t think we want to rule anything out because it sounds out of the ordinary,” said HPM’s Walid Gellad, director of Pitt’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing.  

BCHS congratulates 2020 graduates

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BCHS CHAIR'S REPORT - Congrats to all our graduates. The May 9 online convocation was a wonderful celebration of student accomplishment. Many families were able to attend. We took advantage of the online format to give faculty advisors and students a chance to reflect on their theses and essays and their experiences in BCHS. As I said during the event, "...what a time to be getting a degree in public health..."  

Health Equity Spotlight: Kyanna Williams-Pate

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Not all individuals have access to quality health care. That lack of access to universal quality health care is what inspired me to go into the field of public health and health equity. One of my main interests is ensuring that the most vulnerable populations receive health care and bridging the gaps in health disparities. I am very interested in the social determinants of health and how they can all contribute to the health of an individual and... 

HUGEN's Lisa Parker shares COVID-19 resources

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Hugen’s Lisa Parker, director of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, has made resources available for COVID-19 ethics, medical humanities, and narratives.  

The History and Future of COVID-19

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COVID-19 is one of three novel coronavirus outbreaks in the past 20 years that originated in animals. How is the current outbreak similar and different from the previous ones? What course will COVID-19 take in Pennsylvania?  IDM's  Amy Hartman  puts the current outbreak in perspective with what we know (and don’t know) about SARS-CoV-2. EPI's  Donald Burke  discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely ph... 

Jalal study finds birth year helps predict drug overdose risk

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90.5 WESA - “If you are born after 1945, then your risk of overdose death increases exponentially from one birth year to the next,” said lead author, PHDL's Hawre Jalal. “Those patterns are too regular to be random. There’s some reason why drug overdoses are transmitting from one birth year to the next. We have to unravel those causes. And we have to understand why this pattern is happening to be able to curb the overdose epidemic.”  

Maseru participates in panel themed around human rights and COVID-19

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BCHS's Noble Maseru recently contributed to a community health panel focused on shaping a health and human rights agenda where he discussed how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the African-American community and called for a COVID-19 equity task force.  

Miljkovic on the obesity puzzle: Why the disease defies efforts to control it

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PITTSBURGH QUARTERLY - “It’s a disease with many risk factors that not many people know about. It’s not just about a person not exercising,” said EPI's Iva Miljkovic. “People can have a normal BMI, but they have a lot of fat where it’s not supposed to be and we don’t do anything about it in clinical practice. When you go to the doctor ... no one measures your waist. That would be the most simple way to tell if someone was at high risk.”  

Herpes virus infects billions of people worldwide. Rinaldo explains why there isn’t a vaccine yet.

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NBC NEWS – IDM's Charles Rinaldo said that many have tried to come up with vaccines that use two or three proteins out of the approximately 75 that make up the virus. Those would be safe, but have not protected well. Another approach has been to use a weakened form of the whole virus. In that attenuated, its replication capacity is weakened but it’s not as safe. These failures “are why this is such a monster.”  

Gellad on how the info war over chloroquine has slowed Covid-19 science

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WIRED – No one really knows if the malarial drug helps fight Covid-19, and an information war is hindering the struggle to find out. Unorthodox research methods and a seeming rush to publication, or even prepublication, is muddiing the situation. Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, says a French study was low quality in terms of trial design and evidence of whether it works or not.  

Gellad concerned that government researchers changed metric to measure coronavirus drug remdesivir during clinical trial

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WASHINGTON POST – “It raises a lot of flags, and it requires a lot of answers,” said HPM’s Walid F. Gellad who also serves as head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, “especially when people start saying it’s become the standard of care, and all we saw was a news release in a trial with an outcome that was changed two weeks ago. It really is striking.”  

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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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'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials 

'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials

NEW YORK TIMES - Mistrust of vaccines runs deep in African-American communities. Against formidable odds, Fr. Paul Abernathy and his teams are trying to convince residents fo Pittsburgh's Black neighborhoods to volunteer for trials testing a COVID-19 shot. “The community health deputies have been i... (10/07/2020)