Faculty Profiles & Research News

Cancer-related beliefs and perceptions in Appalachia: findings from 3 states

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JOURNAL OF RURAL HEALTH - Vanderpool RC, Huang B, Deng Y, Bear TM, Chen Q, Johnson MF, Paskett ED, Robertson LB, Young GS, Lachan R. found variations in cancer beliefs were observed across the 3 states’ Appalachian populations. Interventions should be tailored to specific communities to improve cancer knowledge and beliefs and, ultimately, prevention and screening behaviors.  

The role of accountability in batterers intervention programs and community response to intimate partner violence

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JOURNAL OF FAMILY VIOLENCE - Pallatino C, Morrison P, Miller E, Burke J, Cluss P, Fleming R, Hawker L, George D, Bicehouse T, Chang J. found that in order to have a sustainable impact on IPV perpetration, stakeholders across the Social Ecological Model will need to utilize crucial intervention periods using a standardized response to improve outcomes for IPV survivors, perpetrators, families and communities.   

Koesarie, Risser, Totoni instrumental in Pitt providing menstrual products around campus

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THE PITT NEWS - The pad and tampon dispensers in women’s bathrooms across campus have sat empty for years. But check again. Pitt is stocking a number of bathrooms with menstrual products, and there’s no payment required. Kathleen Koesarie (MMPH), said “it’s important that students who need menstrual products have access to them without leaving school. It’s a period equity issue, it’s an equality issue, and it’s a public health issue.”  

Faculty speak out on “Inequality Across Gender and Race” report

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Faculty members Dara Mendez (EPI) and Tiffany Gary-Webb (EPI/BCHS) shared some thoughtful criticisms of the “Inequality Across Gender and Race ” report recently issued by the city.  These two Pitt Public Health faculty members were co-signers of a letter responding to the report and challenging city leadership to take this issue seriously. Find out more...  

IDM Research Day expanded with guest speakers and more than 70 student presenters

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The Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology held their biggest-ever research day celebration, featuring three guest speakers: Jonathan Oliver spoke about the emerging tick-borne diseases of the northern United States, Daniel Voth talked about using human-derived systems to investigate bacterial pulmonary infection, and David Lampe lectured on inhibiting the spread of malaria by altering the mosquito microbiome.    

HuGen’s Minster heads to Accra, Ghana for consortium on human heredity and health in Africa

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Assistant Professor Ryan Minster (HUGEN ’11) is attending the 14th Meeting of the H3Africa (Human Heredity and Health in Africa) Consortium in Accra, Ghana. H3Africa facilitates fundamental research into diseases on the African continent while also developing infrastructure, resources, training, and ethical guidelines to support a sustainable African research enterprise—led by African scientists, for the African people. Minster is heading the bi... 

Weyant among researchers that say sugar consumption is rising, dragging down peoples’ oral health with it

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MIRAGE NEWS - In a recent two-part series in The Lancet, a number of dentists and public health experts name sugar as the leading culprit in the explosive growth of tooth decay worldwide. One of the authors of the series is EPI's Robert Weyant, who notes that “Sugar is the causative agent for dental decay. Basically, without sugar, you won’t develop decay.”  

Culyba finds adult support may mitigate violence-related behaviors in urban youth

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HEALIO - “Understanding nuanced patterns across types of violence perpetration and associated exposures, and how these patterns align with multiple risk and protective factors among male youth in urban neighborhoods can identify targets for intervention,” said BCHS's Alison Culyba.   

Donohue paper reviews pros and cons of marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers

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HPM’s Julie Donohue weighs in on how marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers isn’t new.  In the paper “A History of Drug Advertising”, Donohue outlines the case for and against these advertisements. Proponents tout patient and consumer rights to make informed decisions, while bioethicists and historians believe pharmaceutical companies are “disingenuously using the language of individual rights to support commercial activities.”  

Thurston shows more hot flashes could up odds for heart trouble

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WEB MD - EPI's Rebecca Thurston ifound that frequent or persistent hot flashes are linked to higher odds of heart attack and stroke. The finding stems from a 20-year study of about 3,300 women during menopause. "The [heart events] were not explained by things like blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, exercise or smoking, which are our usual suspects," said Thurston.  

Burke talks about how to control the river of legal painkillers flowing through Allegheny County

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PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW - There were 76 billion pills prescribed across the country from 2006-2012. In that time, prescriptions in Allegheny county went from 46 pills per person per year to 58. EPI's Donald Burke said that there is still a long way to go in terms of controlling this first step of the addiction process: prescribing of drugs.   

Felter comments on how Facebook and Pinterest are fighting back against anti-vaccine content

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HEALTHLINE - Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram have put in safeguards to help combat health misinformation online, which is important because such misinformation can affect public health. For example, misinformation about vaccines has helped lead to the ongoing spike of measles cases. "Those opposed to vaccinations often misrepresent data, knowingly or unknowingly, which can skew others' perception of risk," says BCHS's Elizabeth Felter.   

Culyba's research links mentoring teens to fewer risky behaviors

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WESA - New research from BCHS's Alison Culyba shows that adult support both reduces violence and increases positive behaviors among teen boys in low-income urban neighborhoods. “What we were really interested in with this particular study was looking at patterns of violence with a lot more detail than what had been done in previous research … so we could best understand how to leverage those relationships to protect young men from multiple types... 

Study finds microplastics turning up in human stool. Adibi talks moving the research forward.

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PHYSICIAN'S WEEKLY - Tiny bits of plastic may be getting into our bodies, a new study suggests. EPI's Jennifer Adibi point out that “[the study] does shine a light on a different way of looking at the impact of plastics on health. “Until now we have been focused on measuring and studying the health effects of the chemicals in plastics. “Now we need to extend that thinking to include the intact particles of plastics.”  

Drake: there appears to be a major loophole in background checks for private, online gun sales

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STAR TRIBUNE - Fewer than 10% of sellers appear to require a background check. “We tried to search each listing for evidence suggesting the seller would need a background check," said HPM's Coleman Drake. "The results indicate that this is a potentially large loophole on private sales. The policy implication for lawmakers is that if the government wants meaningful regulation of firearms sales, the online market needs to be included.”  

Health savings accounts linked to care access in cancer survivors; Sabik looks to understanding impacts for specific populations

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CANCERNETWORK - “This was an important study because of the increasing role of high-deductible health plans in our insurance system,” said HPM's Lindsay Sabik. “As [high-deductible health plans] become more widespread, understanding their impacts for different patient populations will be important.”  

Gellad comments: Four health care questions every 2020 Democratic candidate should answer

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VOX - If overhauling the U.S. health care system isn’t on the table in January 2021, drug prices, the opioid crisis, hospital spending, and long-term care are all deeply important problems that a Democratic president will need to turn their attention to if he or she wins. “If [Medicare-for-all] is a no-go in Congress, then what changes would they make to the current system?” said HPM's Walid Gellad.   

Tyurina finds genetic engineering could open possibilities for Parkinson’s patients

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MEDICIAL LIFE SCIENCES -  A team of researchers including EOH's Yulia Tyurina unveiled the most promising strategies in applying genetic engineering. The noble method can help study the role of cellular processes in the disease progression, develop new treatment methods and drugs, and estimate their effectiveness using animal disease models.  

Too old for president? Newman says health and fitness are better indicator than age

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AP - “A healthier heart, for example, is going to translate to a healthier brain...you can have a group of people who at age 80 are still going to work every day, doing all the stuff they need to do. We’re not very good at understanding who’s going to be able to tolerate the stress in emergency situations,” like the 3 a.m. crises presidents so often must navigate, said EPI's Anne Newman as three Democrats in their 70s are vying to challenge the... 

Jarlenski shows women aren't talking to health care professionals about using weed during pregnancy

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UNDARK - Research by HPM's Marian Jarlenski has shown women’s perception of cannabis as risky is dropping. A study published in June in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that between 2002 to 2003 and 2016 to 2017, self-reported use of cannabis in pregnancy doubled overall in the U.S., from 3.4 percent to 7 percent.  

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Research Videos

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Computer simulation just predicted a huge measles outbreak in texas, with 4,000 percent increase predicted in some communities 

Computer simulation just predicted a huge measles outbreak in texas, with 4,000 percent increase predicted in some communities

NEWSWEEK - David Sinclair, a postdoctoral researcher in Pitt's Public Health Dynamics Laboratory and lead author of the study said, "I was surprised at how large measles outbreaks could be in Texas at current vaccination rates, according to our forecasts. The clustering of unvaccinated children in ... (08/25/2019)
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As the U.S. measles count surpasses 25-year-old record, Roberts says: vaccinate 

As the U.S. measles count surpasses 25-year-old record, Roberts says: vaccinate

WDAM - U.S. health officials have reported 971 measles cases so far this year, the highest tally in 27 years, and experts say it's not clear when the wave of illnesses will stop. "What's causing these outbreaks is lack of vaccination," said HPM Chair Mark Roberts.  (05/31/2019)
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Hoffman led research into anti-vaxxers on social media (video) 

Hoffman led research into anti-vaxxers on social media (video)

WPXI - Antivaxxers left negative business reviews for Kids First Pediatrics after they posted a social media video encouraging HPV vaccination. So, they teamed up with researchers at Pitt including Beth Hoffman (BCHS '19, '23) who found that we have to "...start thinking about how to deliver tailor... (04/29/2019)
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Scientists uncover dual-layered scaffolding of cellular nuclei (video) 

Scientists uncover dual-layered scaffolding of cellular nuclei (video)

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES  - Using super-sensitive microscopic imaging, a team of scientists led by HuGen's Quasar Padiath has made a fundamental biological discovery that explains the structure of the nuclear envelope and gives tantalizing clues as to how cells squish throug... (02/19/2019)
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Hartman among researchers trying to prevent virus more dangerous than Zika (video) 

Hartman among researchers trying to prevent virus more dangerous than Zika (video)

WPXI - Pitt researchers are looking to lessons learned about Zika when preparing for the possibility of Rift Valley Fever virus, noting that it's important to develop therapies and vaccines now. "We saw the ffects of Zika when it got into a larger population and so our work highlights the need to r... (02/11/2019)
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Hernandez's research adds to pharmaceutical industry's growing pressure over high price of drugs 

Hernandez's research adds to pharmaceutical industry's growing pressure over high price of drugs

FOX NEWS - "It's not about innovation, it's about inflation in existing products," explains Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16). "They are the same companies that operate in other countries and they don't show this behavior and that's because in other countries they are lucky to have this regulatory env... (01/24/2019)
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