Faculty Profiles & Research News

Albert on Another COVID-19 Challenge: Vaccinating the Homebound

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AARP - "It's catch-as-catch-can," says BCHS Chair Steven Albert about efforts to get vaccinating the estimated 2 million older adults in the U.S. who are unable to leave their homes for health reasons. "It really is not as clear or rational as it should be."   

Costacou - Type 1 diabetes onset before menarche shortens reproductive window

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HEALIO - "Studies have provided discrepant findings on the issue of early menopause in women witn type 1 diabetes," said EPI's Tina Costacou. "Our results suggest that the discrepancies may relate to whether the type 1 diabetes diagnosis precedes menarche or not, something that previous investigations did not examine."   

Discarded drugs: a wasteful and costly problem that requires whole-of-government approaches

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STAT FIRST OPINION —  HPM chair Julie Donohue and National Academies colleagues advocate for a “whole of government” approach to reforming the biopharmaceutical supply chain: Drug developers, manufacturers, clinicians, payers, and policymakers should focus on reducing system inefficiencies in drug development, delivery, and payment that result in discarded drugs, rather than on trying to recover the financial worth of the unused portion.  

Mendez receives Provost's Award for Diversity in the Curriculum

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PITTWIRE - EPI's Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity, received the award for enhancing Clincial Experience courses for first-year students by introducing a book club which explored the history and ongoing practice of racism within medicine. "Star faculty like Dr. Mendez will help accelerate our efforts in diversity and inclusive excellence in our school," said Dean Maureen Lichtveld. Congratulations!   

COVID-19: Allegheny County reports 3 confirmed cases of UK coronavirus variant

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KDKA/CBS NEWS – Lee Harrison of Pitt Medicine and EPI said the current safety efforts are enough for now. “What we know about the UK strain is that it’s definitely more transmissible,” said Harrison. “It spreads more rapidly than other strains. We also know the current vaccines are quite effective against it.” He said symptoms of the variant and original strains aren’t much different. But washing hands, social distancing, and double masking are ... 

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

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PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers generated by multicenter research collaborations. As co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center, she helps design and optimize data collection and m... 

Johnson & Johnson vaccine could get green light on Thursday

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WTAE NEWS — According to its trials, Johnson & Johnson was about 25% less effective than the two vaccines already on the market at preventing someone from getting COVID-19. But HPM professor Mark Roberts said Johnson & Johnson is just as effective as the other two at preventing serious illness. "When you look at the data for preventing serious disease, and preventing death, it’s almost indistinguishable from the Pfizer and Moderna."   

‘Déjà vu’: HIV-positive Pittsburghers say we have much to learn about COVID by comparing it to our other deadly epidemic

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PUBLIC SOURCE — Pittsburghers who have lived with HIV for decades say the COVID pandemic echoed many of the scariest and most dangerous parts of living through the HIV and AIDS epidemic, including confusion about the science, social isolation, a reluctance to adopt public health measures, and a lack of presidential leadership. HIV disease persists, particularly among younger gay Black men living in the South, said Dr.  Mackey Friedman ,  “If yo... 

Sexual violence and adolescent relationship abuse unaffected by gender-based outreach program

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PSYCHIATRY ADVISOR  – Research by Elizabeth Miller of Pitt Medicine and BCHS showed small, neighborhood classes could significantly reduce sexual violence among teenage boys living in areas of concentrated disadvantage. Adapted from a program in Brazil, Manhood 2.0's core message remains the same: challenging gender norms that foster violence against women and unhealthy sexual relationships.  

Drake: Next year, extend open enrollment of the ACA Marketplaces into January

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HEALTH AFFAIRS - HPM's Coleman Drake and Duke University colleague David Anderson say that by offering an extended open enrollment period, the Biden administration can remove a major administrative burden that often stands in the way of families obtaining health insurance.   

Albert on how to remain independent as you age

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MARKETWATCH -  Three-quarters of adults in an AARP survey said they wanted to remain in their homes, but only 59% thought they would be able to do so. If you want to stay in your home as you age, experts recommend paying attention to these 9 things now. BCHS Chair Steve Albert talks about saving money: "Older people who have paid off a mortgage and invested in adaptations to minimize effects of disability are best off."   

Mendez on equity and reproductive justice, plus One Book, One Community

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PITTWIRE - EPI's Dara Mendez started her work in health equity as an undergrad and has now been researching racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth, and women's health for the past 18 years. She will lead a conversation with scholar Dána-Ain Davis, author of this year’s OBOC selection, on 2/26.  

Health officials say the coronavirus will likely become endemic in the next several years. What does that mean? Burke explains.

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USA TODAY - The CDC defines endemic as the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence” of a disease within a population. An endemic disease spreads at a baseline level every year without causing major disruption to people's lives, said EPI's Donald Burke. “Things that are endemic are present for long periods of time without interruption, continuously circulating in the population," like the common cold, he said. “Epidemic means something that co... 

Alumni Research: Lack of health services and transportation impede access to vaccine in communities of color

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THE WASHINGTON POST -  Doctoral alumna Inma Hernandez (HPM '16) with researchers at Pitt and West Health Policy Center said not enough attention has been paid to gaps in the health-care system when addressing vaccine uptake in vulnerable populations. The research applauded the decision by the Biden administration to use community pharmacies as vaccine access points — they tend to be open nights, weekends and holidays and have parking lots, capac... 

Low-energy laser treatment study supported by National Eye Institute

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NOVUS LIGHT TECH TODAY — The NIH National Eye Institute has awarded Pitt and WVU $15.2 million to study how an annual treatment called selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) can be better used to treat glaucoma, lowering hassle, expense, and side effects. “The eye drops only work if you put them in every day, in some cases several times a day,” said EPI's Goundappa K. Balasubramani. “Dozens of studies have taught us that most patients do not fa... 

COVID-19 Case counts have started falling in the U.S. This may be why

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TIME  About 10% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. “We’re nowhere near where you need to be for herd immunity, even with the combination of vaccination and the number of people who had the disease,” says HPM's  Mark Roberts , director of Pitt's Public Health Dynamics lab. Each vaccination helps, but it may take months for immunizations to have a dramatic effect on case counts..  

New York scrambles to improve vaccination acceptance In Black and Latino communities

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NPR — NYC officials say they're working to overcome resistance to the coronavirus vaccine in the Black and Latino communities, while also trying to make doses more available. New state data showed many Black New Yorkers aren't taking the vaccine even when it's offered free of charge. A study by Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16) found many Black Americans nationwide—including some in NYC—live in "vaccination deserts," where pharmacies and other vacc... 

The NFL’s testing program could help other scientists.

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NEW YORK TIMES - The NFL didn’t just play football this season, it conducted an enormous coronavirus testing program. Now scientists who try to predict how viruses travel through communities are eager to see the data to fine-tune their models. EPI's Donald Burke said the data could help him understand how long infected people have been in the community spreading the virus. The NFL’s data, including more than 700 positive cases over six months, “... 

The choices of fans have public health implications.

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NEW YORK TIMES - Common sense dictates that bringing together 25,000 people during a pandemic could lead to more coronavirus infections, and the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., is no exception. EPI's  Donald Burke  is trying to develop a way to estimate the potential spread using cellphone tracking data, statistics on the transmission of viruses, and other information. “Modeling the virus is the easy part. Modeling the humans is the hard part.”  

Where Black Americans will travel farther than Whites for COVID-19 vaccination

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UPMC - Researchers found that in 69 counties, home to 26 million people, Black residents are significantly more likely than Whites to live more than a mile from the closest vaccination facility. “It’s important to adopt a data-driven approach to make sure we get vaccine distribution that’s equitable,” said senior author Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16). “Not all counties have the same limitations in existing infrastructure, and that variability is... 

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Research Videos

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COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Health Care Workers In Underserved Communities Get Vaccine To Build Trust 

COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: Health Care Workers In Underserved Communities Get Vaccine To Build Trust

WDKA CBS NEWS —  In a multipronged effort to prioritize the biggest impact among Phase 1A groups, UPMC vaccinated community advocates  to fight vaccine hesitancy in vulnerable, often minority, populations, where COVID-19 has had a disproportionately terrible effect.BCHS's Richard Garland got the va... (02/01/2021)
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Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video) 

Revisiting Freedom House Ambulance: A Call for a Modern and Inclusive Public Health Initiative (video)

Freedom House Enterprises ambulance services was a pioneering program designed to be representative of the community it served (Pittsburgh's Hill District), provide a pathway for upward mobility, and address a severe disparity in pre-hospital care. The collaboration between Phil Hallen, Peter Saf... (09/30/2020)
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COVID-19 on campus 

COVID-19 on campus

Drs. John Williams and Margaret McDonald share an update on the current COVID conditions on campus and reflect on their insider experiences serving on Pitt’s Healthcare Advisory Group during this public health crisis. (09/25/2020)
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COVID-19 & Secondary Impacts 

COVID-19 & Secondary Impacts

The stay-at-home and social distancing COVID-19 mitigation orders drastically restricted people’s physical movements and access to businesses, causing myriad secondary impacts on the public’s health. Dr. Andrea Gielen discusses how the pandemic has affected injury risks due to changes in lifestyles... (09/18/2020)
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