Faculty Profiles & Research News

CHE's Violence Prevention Initiative announces outreach project, McKeesport Violence Prevention

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The Violence Prevention Initiative, led by BCHS's Richard Garland, was awarded funds by the RK Mellon Foundation to launch an outreach project called McKeesport Violence Prevention. “We are hiring four outreach workers who will really be violence interrupters,” said Garland. “Their jobs will be to interrupt the transmission of the disease of violence in the McKeesport area. Our work is about changing the narrative. We feel we can stem the tide o... 

Pitt researchers find convalescent plasma "futile' in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “We speculate that it could be a combination of too few high-quality antibodies in the plasma and these patients being too far along in their illness with a runaway inflammatory immune response for those antibodies to turn the tide,” said co-senior author Derek Angus (BCHS '92), the chief innovation officer at UPMC and chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine and secondary faculty in HPM.   

Hospitals brace for an onslaught this winter, from flu as well as COVID

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NPR - The much-feared "twindemic" of flu and COVID didn't hit last winter. But some experts fear that last year's remarkably mild flu season has now set the stage for a big rebound in the coming months, because fewer people have built up immunity. "It could be really bad, and it could be really bad at a time when there's still quite a bit of COVID-19 filling up our hospitals," says HPM and PHDL’s Mark Roberts.  

Changes in the length of the premenopausal menstrual cycle may predict the risk of heart disease

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FLORIDA NEWS TIMES - As women approach menopause, the length of the menstrual cycle often increases. The timing of these changes may provide clues about the risk of people developing heart disease, according to a new study. "Cardiovascular disease is the number one murderer of women and the risk is significantly increased after middle age, so menopause may contribute to the disease," said EPI's Samar El Khoudary, lead author.   

Does 1918 Pandemic Offer Clues on Emerging from COVID-19?

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U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Dean Emeritus Donald Burke is an expert at using computer modeling and simulation to guide public health decision-making. He said it's important to consider the death rate and not simply the death total. "Even though the death totals are similar [for COVID-19 and the 1918 flu], the death rates — that is the rate per 100,000 people, or per-unit population — are lower now from covid than it was for influenza by about t... 

Lichtveld on how Huntington Beach Oil Spill Might Affect Human Health

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VERYWELL HEALTH - Breathing crude oil vapors can cause coughing, throat and nose irritation, dizziness, headache, and nausea, according to a 2016 medical study of the DWH clean-up workers. This is particularly worrisome for vulnerable populations like children, older adults and people with lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says Dean Maureen Lichtveld.  

Shell cracker plant confrirms a sweet-smelling odor came from its Beaver County facility

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PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER - "Factual identification of the actual agents responsible for or released in association with the reported smells should be a high priority, in the absence of which assigning any potential health risk becomes very problematic," says EOH's James Fabisiak, Breath Project member. He also pointed the reporter toward CDC facts to help explain that the rumors that the smell was due to ethylene glycol were likely incorrect, keepi... 

A Conversation with BCHS's Emily Dauria

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"I am so excited to join the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences because of the department's focus on engaging community-based organizations and using a multilevel lens to best understand and address health and health care challenges. I am also incredibly excited about rejoining a school of public health where I will have the opportunity to collaborate with and support students to find their public health passions as they make... 

The Most Important Vaccine I'll Get This Fall

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THE ATLANTIC - HPM's Mary Krauland said flu viruses, already a familiar threat to our immune system, spread less easily than SARS-CoV-2, which made them easier to stamp out with masks, physical distancing, school closures and international travel bans, even when adherence was spotty. Cases around the globe plummeted. But "no one expected flu to go away forever," she said.   

Migraines and More Severe Hot Flashes Could Be Linked

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - A new study that examined migraine, menopause and heart disease "confirms that women with a history of migraine are at increased risk for severe hot flashes at midlife," said EPI's Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory and past president of the North American Menopause Society.   

Two-for-one vaccine clinics fight flu and Covid, too

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CNN - Since there were relatively few flu cases last year, scientists including HPM's Mary Krauland and Kyu Lee have predicted in a pre-print paper that there will be a "large compensatory" flu season this year. A model based on previous flu seasons projects in the paper that there could be 102,000 additional hospitalizations this upcoming season due to flu illnesses, which corresponds to a 20% increase compared with the average number of hospit... 

Allegheny County breakthrough cases increasing, but vaccinated still avoid serious illness

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PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE - The jab also appears to have a slight reduction in effectiveness against the delta variant compared to prior dominant virus strains, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison. But it should still protect people from severe disease if they do become infected. "I think what it tells us most clearly is, if we can get the rest of the population vaccinated, it will turn COVID into more of a nuisance than a major cause of hospitalizati... 

Biden's Mandate Requires Weekly COVID-19 Testing for Unvaccinated Employees. That Will Get Expensive.

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WESA - "There are arguments that say...if they're not willing to get a fully authorized, now-approved vaccine, then they need to bear the brunt of the cost," said HPM's Tina Batra Hershey.  

People Living with HIV the focus of two NIH awards to Pitt Public Health researchers

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From social stigma to the high prevalence of concurrent chronic diseases, people living with HIV (PLWH) are faced with a multitude of challenges.  Two National Institute of Health grants recently awarded to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health will provide valuable data to better intervene on their behalf.   

Sexual Assault Linked to Later Brain Damage in Women, Study Finds

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CNN - "It could be either childhood sexual abuse or adult sexual assault," said study author EPI’s Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory. "Based upon population data, most women have their sexual assaults when they are in early adolescence and early adulthood," she added, "so these are likely early experiences that we're seeing the marks of later in life."  

Floods Have Swamped the US. The Next Health Problem: Mold

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WIRED - A summer of floods means mold and fungi are to follow. Yet we lack proper surveillance systems for mold infections and that leads to a data gap that increases the burden of these infections, particularly on marginalized groups. “We cannot isolate the impact of a natural disaster from historic burdens of health disparities, whether they are in the Gulf Coast or in the Caribbean or in New Jersey,” says Dean Maureen Lichtveld.  

Donohue on Planet Money: This is Your Brain on Drug Ads

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NPR - When laws changed around advertising prescription drugs to consumers in 1997, HPM Chair Julie Donohue was among those interested in studying the effects. “I was just fascinated by the rise of this new kind of promotion and the debate that ensued about whether or not it was appropriate. I think it’s clear that we are using more medicine because of direct to consumer advertising and in fact that’s what it’s designed to do.”  

Roberts - Health Care Budgets for Rural Providers—Opportunities for Payment Reform

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NEJM - HPM's Eric Roberts and a colleague present this Policy makers are beginning to test new payment models that establish budgets for rural health care providers. By implementing a fixed payment or setting a spending benchmark for health care organizations, budgets are intended to promote efficient care delivery. Rural health care systems have historically had little exposure to budget-based payment models. The emerging interest in health car... 

Chu and Hershey - Collaborative Public Health Strategies to Combat e-Cigarette Regulation Loopholes

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JAMA NETWORK - While the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey reported a decline in youth e-cigarette use, the use of disposable e-cigarettes has increased for children. This Viewpoint summarizes recent efforts by the FDA and state lawmakers to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic and offers a framework to further guide these efforts.  

Harrison co-authors Conversation piece - Massive numbers of new COVID-19 infections, not vaccines, are the main driver of new coronavirus variants

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THE CONVERSATION – The rise of coronavirus variants globally has highlighted the huge influence evolutionary biology has on daily life. But how mutations, random chance, and natural selection produce variants is a complicated process. What EPI and IDM’s Lee Harrison and a Pitt Medicine colleague have learned over the past 18 months of following how the coronavirus has acquired different mutations around the world.  

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Research Videos

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Garland Examines Rise in Young People's Involvement in Local Violence on Hayes-Freeland show (video) 

Garland Examines Rise in Young People's Involvement in Local Violence on Hayes-Freeland show (video)

KDKA - BCHS' Richard Garland spoke with KDKA's Lynne Hayes-Freeland about the factors that are contributing to a rise in violence among youth in Pittsburgh. (08/03/2021)
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Baumann's talk during TEDxUniversity: Leaders, Innovators, and Neighbors (video) 

Baumann's talk during TEDxUniversity: Leaders, Innovators, and Neighbors (video)

BCHS' Sara Baumann is a mixed-methods researcher harnessing participatory, arts-based tools to study mental health and reproductive health issues. She was living in Nepal in 2015 when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck, killing close to 9,000 people and displacing half a million. Watch the recording... (07/26/2021)
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Gary-Webb featured in PHRESH: Communities Thrive When Residents are Involved in Decisions That Affect Their Neighborhoods 

Gary-Webb featured in PHRESH: Communities Thrive When Residents are Involved in Decisions That Affect Their Neighborhoods

"The Hill District and Homewood are similar and different in various ways. They're similar in the sense that they've been relatively stable over time and they have predominantly Black populations but they have very different histories overtime," explains EPI's TIffany Gary-Webb, assocaite dean for ... (07/23/2021)
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Hill and colleagues find that coke works fire made asthma worse for sufferers nearby 

Hill and colleagues find that coke works fire made asthma worse for sufferers nearby

WTAE - Brandy Bywra-Hill (EOH '22) was lead author on a recent study in collaboration with ACHD that recounts the impact of the Christmas Eve 2018 fire that destroyed the pollution controls of the U.S. Clairton Coke Works. "This is the type of data that helps shape policy about air emissions, facto... (05/06/2021)
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