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Chinese biotech reports COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, but Reed is cautious

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SCIENCE - IDM's Douglas Reed, who is developing and testing COVID-19 vaccines in monkey studies, says the number of animals was too small to yield statistically significant results. His team also has a manuscript in preparation that raises concerns about the way the Sinovac team grew the stock of novel coronavirus used to challenge the animals: It may have caused changes that make it less reflective of the ones that infect humans.  

Hidden outbreaks spread through U.S. cities far earlier than we knew

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NEW YORK TIMES - EPI’s Donald Burke said, “Even with these corrections, it’s still on the high side — this is higher than I would have expected.” He added that, whatever the precise scale of the initial outbreak, that same dynamic will accelerate once measures to mitigate the spread are relaxed without other public health measures in place. “When you take away social distancing, everything will go right through the roof.”  

Using 'probable' COVID-19 cases and deaths in data helps response, says Haggerty

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POST-GAZETTE - By counting probable cases and deaths, not just confirmed ones, “the overall sensitivity of the surveillance system is enhanced,” said EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. She interviews people who have had contact with COVID-19 patients to determine if they should be considered probable cases. “By casting a wider net you catch more cases. And it gives us a greater understanding of the full impact” of the disease on the community.  

Fabisiak on why American Lung Association report claims climate change will make it harder to protect health

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90.5 WESA – EOH’s James Fabisiak said the rising ozone levels in this report stood out to him since they had fallen in previous reports. Ozone doesn’t come from a single source, and it’s aggravated by higher temperatures. “Therefore, climate change becomes a particular—at least, good—candidate as for why you might be seeing that particular change.”  

Contact tracing: Medical detectives like Haggerty could help open economy

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PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES – While high numbers have made state-level contact tracing impossible, Allegheny County has managed it by bringing in Pitt health science students and faculty to assist, including EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. “We identify potentially exposed persons within the community so that we can reduce community spread,” she said. “I think that’s played a role in the success of managing and combatting COVID-19” in the region.  

HPM students participate in UAB Case Competition

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Three students from the Department of Health Policy and Management, Brandon Trumbull (HPM ’19), Karl Gibson (HPM ’19), and Emily Joseph (HPM ’20), participated in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health Administration Case Competition in February 2019.  

HPM students place in top 16 in Cleveland Clinic Case Competition

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The Cleveland Clinic held its 6 th MBA/MHA Case Competition in April 2019. Teams of graduate students submitted cases about growth strategy recommendations for the Cleveland Clinic + Oscar Health product in mid-February, hoping to earn a spot amongst the top 16 teams  

HPM students take home second place at Penn State University Health Care Management Case Competition

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Nolan Cianci (HPM ’21), Mara Menk (HPM ’22), and Devin Strynkowski (HPM ’21), coached by MPH program director and HPM faculty member Elizabeth Van Nostrand, placed 2 nd in the Penn State University Health Care Management Case Competition  

Maseru on Black History Month in Pittsburgh

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THE PITTSBURGH STUDY - Center for Health Equity Director Noble Maseru asks, "What can we Pittsburghers do to achieve an inclusive and socially equitable city? in the first case, we can express our preference for behavior that reflects our views on social justice in the ballot box - so vote!"  


Haggerty on driving the open roads in a pandemic

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “A good first step is to check the CDC website before you travel because things are rapidly changing,” advised EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. “There is evidence that the virus can be viable for hours or days on surfaces, so wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you wipe down the steering wheel, it is just an extra precaution that can help protect you.”  

Van Panhuis explains the importance of epidemiology during the current coronavirus pandemic

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PBS NEWSHOUR - EPI’s Wilbert Van Panhuis tells California high school student reporter Madi Marks how he's collecting data on the coronavirus to combat it's spread. He talks about his personal transition from working with sick individuals in past epidemics to improving health conditions for whole populations. His work with big-data disease modeling allows his team to better plan and respond to emergency situations like the current pandemic.  

Roberts on a decision for re-opening economy

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WTAE - HPM’s Mark Roberts said a drop in coronavirus cases means that people are following social distancing guidelines. He thinks President Trump's plan is “reasonable,” but he added, “What we need to do is understand the impact of the decisions we’re making on the disease and on the economy.”  

Angus says the search for coronavirus treatments is jumbled

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CNN – The scramble for successful treatments is disjointed and chaotic, according to Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92). There are two million people who already have this disease. If even one in 10 has been able to participate in a trial, we could have gone through 100 different drugs by now and known definitively which ones worked or not. The disorder is global, and there aren’t enough tests right now to practice effective public health.  

What it’s like for IDM student Emerson Boggs and team to moderate Reddit’s wildly popular coronavirus forum

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VICE MEDIA – Emerson Boggs (IDM PhD candidate) says, “I’m a virologist, so I probably spend more time than average looking at outbreaks. I started off as a fervent commenter, and then I wanted the ability to intervene because the science stuff got bad pretty quickly.” The subreddit is also rapidly outpacing traditional outbreak reporting. The ability to communicate back and forth easily has helped a lot of people.  

Chaotic search for coronavirus treatments undermines efforts, says Angus

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WASHINGTON POST - “It’s a cacophony—it’s not an orchestra. There’s no conductor,” said Pitt Med and HPM faculty's Derek Angus (BCHS '92), who is leading a covid-19 trial to test multiple therapies. “My heart aches over the complete chaos in the response.” The lack of coordination puts the world at risk of ending up with a raft of inconclusive and conflicting studies and little idea of what interventions work for the next wave of illness.  

Reed works with lab animals to help defeat the new coronavirus

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SCIENCE – Dozens of research teams are racing to develop animal models that can help find effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. IDM’s Douglas Reed is staging experiments in air chambers that attempt to infect monkeys through this route, which both might increase pathogenicity and offer clues about transmission risks. He explains, “We’re trying to get enough virus into them to get some kind of disease.”  

Peddada addresses international students, online classes

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"A special message to our international students who must feel away from their dear ones more than ever before...I'm glad to see that Dr. Tseng is organizing virtual social events engaging interested students and faculty. I also understand students themselves are organizing other social events. Such activities should be upllifting and helpful to all of us. If there is anything else we can do to help you through these difficult times, then please... 

Mendez interviews Dornsife faculty on health equity and COVID-19 in the U.S. and Brazil (video)

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EPI's Dara Mendez is health equity editor for Block Chronicles, a national web-series and online magazine profiling educators, artists, researchers, and community organizations on Latinx studies, urban education, health equity, and arts and culture. In this video, she interviews Sharelle Barber, scholar-activist and faculty member at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. "This is not really a surprise to those of us who study r... 

Albert addresses town hall informing 13,000 retirees on coronavirus

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More than 13,000 retirees from across the country tuned in to an Alliance for Retired Americans and AFL-CIO "teletownhall" where BCHS Chair Stephen Albert was among the speakers. Albert encouraged retirees to avoid public spaces, to take advantage of senior hours or curbside pickup, to use cloth face masks and to wash hands frequently -- and to be wary of information about unproven prevention or cures.   

Jonas Salk’s son sees hope in COVID-19 efforts, still pushing for polio eradication

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Peter Salk, IDM faculty and director of The Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation, worries that "the [polio] eradication program is going to take a hit from some of the coronavirus efforts, because of the focus [in funding and research] on the coronavirus.” But he's happy that teams of researchers at his and his father's academic home, the University of Pittsburgh, have announced two different COVID-19 vaccine projects.  

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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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Van Panhuis on new, secretive data system shaping federal pandemic response 

Van Panhuis on new, secretive data system shaping federal pandemic response

CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY - “It is a big leap forward,” said EPI's Wilbert van Panhuis, who is working to get access to the platform for a group of 600 researchers. “They are making major progress in this pandemic,” but much of the data was designed with federal government users in mind, not acad... (09/22/2020)