News

Garland among those chosen for task force on police reform

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BCHS's Richard Garland is one of 17 civilians named to a Pittsburgh task force that will review policing in Pittsburgh and deliver recommendations by the fall. Garland is director of the Center for Health Equity's Violence Prevention Project where he oversees training, data collection, and outreach efforts aimed at reducing crime and violence. He also works with police departments and community-based organizations throughout PA providing gun vio... 

Albert on recommendations amid the nursing home coronavirus catastrophe

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WHP-TV – BCHS chair and policy expert Steven Albert said that federal deregulation of long-term care facilities left many state facilities in a bad position. Funneling more federal money into facilities is a first step to addressing the issues. “You've got to pay people more," Albert said. "You've got to have more staff, and there shouldn't be these itinerants that go between different nursing homes. That is a catastrophe waiting to happen."  

Maseru Agrees African Americans Much More Likely To Have Friends, Family Die From Coronavirus

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A total of 11 percent of African Americans say someone close to them has died from coronavirus, compared to 4 percent of white Americans, and 5 percent of Americans in general. BCHS' Noble Maseru, director of the Center for Health Equity and associate dean for diversity and inclusion, said “Folks talk about the pre-existing medical conditions, but we should actually go upstream and address the pre-existing social conditions.”  

Clark retires after 49 years, other recent retirements

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After 49 years and three months, Lynette Clark retired on March 31. As a life member of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, Lynette has worked extensively with the African American Alumni Council (AAAC) and other campus and community organizations. Read more about Lynette and our other recent retirees.  

Worthington interns with Hawaii Department of Health for COVID-19 project

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MPH student Ke’alohi Worthington (EPI ’21) has been performing data analyses for her internship with the Department of Health in Hawaii, which examines how COVID-19 has affected indigenous and other populations.   

University draws on own experts to guide health and safety decisions

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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’s Sally Wenzel, will develop recommendations for the Pitt community.  

Brent on how brief interventions are tied to lower repeat suicide attempts

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The fewer who attempt suicide, the fewer that die by suicide. These results have "important clinical implications" that should motivate healthcare systems to implement brief interventions, commented epidemiologist David Brent (’87 Hyg) and Nadine M. Melhem. “We need to be prepared with brief suicide preventive interventions that every clinician could deliver face to face or through telemedicine.”  

James reimagines the nursing home industry after COVID-19

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NEWMAN TIMES-HERALD – As COVID-19 ravages the U.S., many of the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes are among the most dangerous places to be. Interim Dean Everette James says fixing the situation would require federal law changes that support a “functioning long-term care insurance market,” so more Americans can afford the type of care the wish for in their final years.  

Health Department Responses

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EPI's Catherine Haggerty and HPM's Wendy Braund lead a conversation about the health department response to COVID-19 at the local and state levels. Haggerty starts the conversation with a discussion of the approaches, impact, and challenges of containment and mitigation efforts at the county level. Braund continues the conversation by comparing and contrasting the response at the state level.   

Biostatistical Modeling and COVID-19

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Biostatistical modeling, estimation, and decision-making support have been playing an important role in responses to COVID-19 challenges. Lu Tang and Andriy Bandos will discuss statistical considerations involved in modeling the epidemic progression and in the use of COVID-19 related tests for estimation and decision making support.   

Jarlenski revisits "Arguments, Evidence, and Abortion Policy" on public health podcast

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PUBLIC HEALTH POST - HPM’s Marian Jarlenski discusses her article "Arguments, Evidence, and Abortion Policy" during the Public Health Post's podcast hosted by Boston University's School of Public Health. 

Wu wins ASA biopharmaceutical scholarship

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Liwen Wu (BIOST '21) has been selected as a scholarship recipient for the 2020 ASA Biopharmaceutical Section's Student Scholarship Award. She will receive an award certificate and a check in the amount of $1,000. Congratulations Liwen!  

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.  ... 

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Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021 

Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021

PITTWIRE — Optimism is hardwired in most humans, says public health professor Steve Albert. If you don’t feel like you’re one of them right now, here are three perspectives on why, despite all that 2020 brought us, things are looking brighter. (12/16/2020)
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Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form 

Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form

THE CONVERSATION - Until very recently, geneticists had virtually no understanding of which parts of our DNA were linked to even the most basic aspects of facial appearance. HUGEN's John R. Shaffer and Pitt’s Seth M. Weinberg explore questions like: Can we reliably predict a person’s face from thei... (12/11/2020)
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An Expert’s Mental Health Reminders 

An Expert’s Mental Health Reminders

PITTWIRE - Finals are here. Winter is coming. Pitt psychiatry and epidemiology expert Rebecca Thurston offers reminders to care for yourself during tough times. (12/03/2020)


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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"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19 

"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19

USA TODAY - Jonas Salk’s vaccine helped wipe polio from most of the world, something that many people hope will happen with the coronavirus vaccine. However, IDM's Dr. Peter Salk warns eradicating polio from the U.S. was a long and difficult journey, and he doesn’t expect eliminating COVID-19 will ... (12/29/2020)