News

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... 

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 ... 

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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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Covid-19 vaccine: Light faint at the end of the tunnel for Vietnam 

Covid-19 vaccine: Light faint at the end of the tunnel for Vietnam

VNEXPRESS - Amid a global sigh of relief over vaccine developments, experts say Vietnam's access is fraught with uncertainty. IDM's Toan Ha said the country's ability to produce its own vaccines is critical. "I believe that Vietnam will be able to successfully develop clinically-tested Covid-19 vac... (12/29/2020)