Faculty Profiles & Research News

Hernandez explains why some Americans are forced into bankruptcy to pay for prescriptions

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THE GUARDIAN – A 2019 report published in the journal Health Affairs found drug costs are driven largely by pharmaceutical manufacturers’ year-on-year price hikes on drugs already on the market rather than by innovation, as often claimed by the industry. Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM ’16), lead author of the study, says, “Our results are relevant from a policy perspective because they show that price increases do not necessarily reflect innovation o... 

Braund coauthors American Heart Association's Call to Action on Rural Health

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With this advisory, the American Heart Association is calling for a sustained commitment of health care and other stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels to work together to improve rural health. HPM's Wendy Braund was among the authors stating, "understanding and addressing the unique health needs of people residing in rural America is critical to the American Heart Association's commitment to health equity and its focus on social... 

Thurston on why your hot flashes may put you at risk for heart disease

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CAPE COD HEALTH NEWS - Women who reported more persistent hot flashes over the course of the menopausal transition were associated with an 80 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease events. EPI's Rebecca Thurston, lead investigator on a study of more than 3,000 women for 20 years, called the magnitude of the increased risks “substantial.” She says, “The [hot flashes] are telling us something about the health of women’s cardiovascular s... 

Samargandy and El Khoudary find that running can help aging women at increased risk of heart disease

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RUNNER’S WORLD – New research adds to growing evidence that the menopause transition is a critical stage for the acceleration of cardiovascular disease risk, according to lead author and epidemiology doctoral student Saad Samargandy. Senior author and associate epidemiology professor Samar El Khoudary says these shifts may be related to hormonal changes affecting arteries and veins that carry blood throughout the body, but exercise can be crucia... 

Hartman & Mertz serve on global coronavirus panel

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TRIB LIVE –  Experts from multiple disciplines gather to discuss the outbreak of novel coronavirus COVID-19. Panelists include IDM’s Amy Hartman, who studies emerging viruses and diseases transmitted from animals to people and then among people; and ACHD medical epidemiologist Kristen Mertz, who also serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Pitt Public Health. “Information is coming out very quickly and it’s hard to … know the facts,” Hartman... 

Mertz joins Pitt experts to dispel myths about Coronavirus

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KDKA – During the information session, Kristen Mertz, assistant professor of epidemiology and medical epidemiologist at the Allegheny County Health Department, highlighted more aggressive measures currently in place to prevent spreading the disease. “Those are really the travel ban for foreign nationals so they are not coming to the U.S. and restrictions on U.S. citizens and residents who have been overseas,” Mertz said.  

Gellad concerned that delayed generics increase surprise medical bills

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AXIOS – Big pharma is often successful in securing additional years of monopoly pricing, creating a higher baseline price for when generics finally come out. "Every year that goes by when a generic is delayed is another 6+ percent increase in the price the generic will cost when it finally hits the market," tweeted HPM’s Walid Gellad last week.  

Ecological momentary assessment of stress, racism and other forms of discrimination during pregnancy using smartphone technology

WILEY - Dara D. Mendez, Sarah A. Sanders, Yu‐Hsuan Lai , Meredith L. Wallace , Stephen L. Rathbun, Tiffany L. Gary‐Webb, Esa M. Davis, Lora E. Burke found methods applied in PMOMS provide real‐time data regarding how participants' daily experiences of stress and discrimination influence their lives. Future work will include understanding if and how these EMA measures may relate to already established measures of racism, sexism, and stress; and u... 

Wahed to serve on prestigious COPSS Award Committee

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BIOST's Abdus S. Wahed has been selected to be a member of the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) award committee for academic years 2019-22 to represent the International Biometric Society Eastern North American Region (ENAR). COPSS brings the leadership of five distinguished statistical societies to work on shared problems and improve intersociety communication.   

Parker elected Hastings Center fellow

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PITTWIRE - HUGEN's Lisa Parker was recently elected fellow to The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of research scholars studying ethical questions in medicine, science and technology that help inform policy, practice and public understanding. Parker, along with Robert Arnold of Pitt Medicine, is among twelve newly elected fellows recognized for their outstanding accomplishments informing scholarship and public understanding... 

Wenzel in Lancet: Intersection of biology and therapeutics: type 2 targeted therapeutics for adult asthma

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In a recent article published in the Lancet, EOH Chair Sally Wenzel found that "the emergence of type 2 biologics for the treatment of severe asthma is a welcomed and much needed advance in the management of patients with asthma. Although a cure for asthma remains elusive, many patients with severe asthma show a robust and sustained response to this new class of medication."   

BIOST students Jia and Liu win national ENAR distinguished paper award

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Congratulations to Yichen Jia (BIOST ’22, front-left) and Peng Liu (BIOST '16 '21, front-right), winners of the national ENAR Distinguished Paper Award. The two doctoral students will present their award-winning work at one of the country's largest professional gatherings of biostatisticians, the ENAR Spring Meeting in Nashville, March 22–25. Pitt Biostatistics students are consistently recognized among these top student researchers.  

El Khoudary discovers women at greater risk of CV disease around menopause

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MEDICAL DIALOGUES - “Midlife is not just a period where women have hot flashes and experience other menopausal symptoms, it’s a time when their cardiovascular disease risk is increasing as we see significant changes in multiple clinical measures of their physical health,” said EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary. “Our study is not able to tell us why we’re seeing these changes … but we can say, right now, that women should be made aware that their cardio... 

Jarlenski confirms inconsistencies in enforcement of ACA birth control coverage

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VICE - The most recent research found that insurance was inconsistent in guaranteeing full coverage of birth control options. “This is an ongoing issue,” said HPM’s Marian Jarlenski, who researches maternal and child health. “You may be hit by a surprise bill; you may just decide to pay out-of-pocket, not knowing there might be an appeals process; or you could go to a different clinic.”  

Sabik finds Massachusetts’ health reforms helped catch more cancers early

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - “Our study is the first to present evidence that Massachusetts' health reform may be associated with a shift to earlier-stage diagnosis for a cancer that has a high cure rate when caught early,” said HPM's Lindsay Sabik. “We expect that early cancer diagnosis will likely be one of the major success stories of national health insurance reform.”  

Felter and Baumann receive Best Paper of the Year Award

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Congrats to BCHS's Elizabeth Felter and Sara Baumann (BCHS '19). Their article "Development of a Community-Engaged Classroom for Teaching Health Communications: Lessons Learned from Nine Semesters of Implementation," has been selected as a Pedagogy in Health Promotion's 2019 Best Paper of the Year Award. This is a great honor!   

Miller's research proves program effective in preventing dating violence with middle school students

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ASPPH FRIDAY LETTER - Coaching Boys Into Men, a program that seeks to prevent dating violence and sexual assault, reduces abusive behaviors among middle school male athletes toward their female peers, according to clinical trial results published in JAMA Pediatrics. The trial, examining the short- and long-term effectiveness of the program, was led by BCHS's Elizabeth Miller.   

Hand-offs, not handcuffs: Hawk favors a Pittsburgh program for nonviolent criminals

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - It makes sense to pitch LEAD to the medical community [as well as law enforcement and neighborhood associations], said BCHS’s Mary Hawk. Medical professionals, after all, see a lot of people with substance abuse problems, and don’t always know how to get them help. “These are people we love, right?” she said. “We all want the people we love to have opportunities to thrive.”  

Faculty Spotlight: Jiebiao Wang, assistant professor of biostatistics

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Over the last year, we are lucky to have recruited three outstanding junior faculty members: Lu Tang, Jenna Carlson (BIOST '17), and Jiebiao Wang. The newest addition, Wang received his PhD from the University of Chicago and was most recently a post-doctoral fellow at CMU. His expertise and research interests include high dimensional data, genomics, and causal inference. Wang is currently teaching BIOST 2025: Biostatistics Seminar.   

Miller finds coaches can help prevent dating violence in young men

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KDKA  -  Imagine locker room talk about respect and stopping violence against women. Studies by BCHS’s Elizabeth Miller, who also directs adolescent and young adult medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital, found that coaches can reduce abusive behavior toward girls among male athletes, even at the middle school level. Earlier studies had shown that high school coaches could have a significant impact. Pittsburgh Action Against Rape runs the Coaching... 

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Research Videos

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Rinaldo remembers unsung heroes: Pittsburgh men, decades-long study impact HIV/AIDS research 

Rinaldo remembers unsung heroes: Pittsburgh men, decades-long study impact HIV/AIDS research

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - For more than three decades, Pitt Men’s Study leaders have gathered with Pittsburgh men and women to remember those who have died and give thanks for the 1,743 men who have participated in the nation’s longest-running HIV/AIDS research project. IDM's Charles Rinaldo has l... (12/21/2019)
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Brent using MRI scans to reveal the physical makeup of thoughts and feelings 

Brent using MRI scans to reveal the physical makeup of thoughts and feelings

CBS - Who among us hasn't wished we could read someone else's mind, know exactly what they're thinking? Well that's impossible, or at least that's what we've always, well, thought. EPI’s David Brent runs a clinic for suicidal adolescents. He happened to attend a talk Marcel Just was giving about hi... (12/09/2019)
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Baumann's latest documentary examines transgender identities and reproductive health 

Baumann's latest documentary examines transgender identities and reproductive health

WESA-FM -- A documentary about a local transgender musician’s reproductive health offers a new way to think about public health research: through the visual medium of film. Produced by Pitt Public Health postdoctoral associate Sara Baumann  (BCHS '19), the film focuses on Jude Benedict, who identif... (10/25/2019)
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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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