Faculty Profiles & Research News

CDC Limits Review of Vaccinated But Infected. Harrison Among Those to Express Concern

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BLOOMBERG - Clinical trials weren’t designed to study how the vaccines perform in specific subgroups and people with certain medical conditions weren’t included, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, also with PItt Medicine.   

Feingold selected for American Council on Education Fellowship

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PITT WIRE - Congratulations to HUGEN and BIOST's Eleanor Feingold, recently promoted to vice dean, who was named to the 2021-22 class of the longest-running, cohort-based higher education leadership development progam in the U.S. Many of its alumni are now university presidents and provosts and acceptance is extremely competitive.   

Leadership transitions

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Dean Lichtveld announced upcoming leadership changes: Steve Albert to step down as BCHS chair with Velpandi Ayyavoo to serve as interim chair; Eleanor Feingold to become vice dean, Jessie Burke to interim as Feingold receives American Council on Education Fellowship. Dan Weeks will be interim chair of HUGEN.   

Kamboh co-PI on $10.7M for Alzheimer's Disease Genetic Research

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UPMC - A new project with Washington University School of Medicine funded by the NIH aims to advance Alzheimer's research using whole genome sequencing to address a critical knowledge gap. HUGEN and EPI's Ilyas Kamboh is part of a research team that plans to identify the genetic variants, genes and pathways that lead to formation of plaques and tangles - two biomarkers that appear 15-25 years before symptoms.    

King discusses vaccine hesitancy paper and looking at hesitance by occupation

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KDKA AM - "Our hope as public health professionals is that overtime, people that are vaccine hesitant now will be willing to take the vaccine [in the future]," said EPI's Wendy King, lead author on a recent paper looking at vaccine hesitancy by occupation.   

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

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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 pollution controls. "This is the type of data that helps shape policy about air emissions, factory emissions, public health - all sorts of things," said Hill.    

Newman: Remote Research and Clinical Trial Integrity During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic

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JAMA NETWORK - EPI Chair Anne Newman is co-author on a recent publication evaluating the affect of remote research needs through coronavirus mitigation efforts on clinical trials, finding that reducing unnecessary participant travel may be beneficial but that other factors can compromise the validity and integrity of certain trials and that deciding to conduct future trials remotely should be considered carefully.   

Mendez talks Black Maternal Health in Adagio Health's Better Health Outcomes Speakers Series

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In observance of Black Maternal Health week, EPI's Dara Mendez presented Black Maternal Health in Pennsylvania and the U.S., presenting data, discussing the implcations of racism and next steps. Open for the full recording.   

Roberts on COVID-19 rates falling short in parts of MN

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STAR-TRIBUNE - COVID-19 vaccination rates are lagging in parts of Minnesota as the pace of new shots slows throughout the state, an early warning sign that achieving herd immunity could take longer in some places. "In rural areas, the fact is you are still moving around, you are still coming into contact with people," said HPM and PHDL's Mark Roberts. "If only 40% of the people in that geographic area are vaccinated and immune then you have a hi... 

Gary-Webb on vaccine inequity between Black and White Allegheny County residents

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WESA - Gary-Webb agrees that the mass vaccination sites were an important and effective way to quickly inoculate a large number of people. But now that nearly half of Allegheny County’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, she said it is time to shift efforts to clinics that target specific populations. This is due not only to vaccine hesitancy concerns, but also to the fact that some people who are still unvaccinated face m... 

Ding wins 2021 Craig Award

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Congratulations to Ying Ding! "As a teacher, Dr. Ding can answer very hard theory questions as well as practical problems that students may have about statistics, and she is also experienced in inspiring a students interests in statistics," said one nominator. Other nominators said she was accessible both in and out of the classroom and willing to encourage discussion and encourage work outside of the classroom.   

Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition report shows disparity in vaccine rollout in Allegheny County

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Though they've been working since long before vaccines were available - for 57 weeks - the Black COVID-19 Equity Coaltion recently released a report on equity in vaccine distribution in Allegheny County. "This particular report...is focused on data related to vaccine distribution, understanding the disparities in distribution so far and making recommendations on what we can do, not only on data infrastructure issues but how we can use data to un... 

Harrison explains need for COVID vaccine boosters (video)

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WPXI - "We will definitely need boosters," said EPI's Lee Harrison, who is also faculty at Pitt Medicine. Because of "the efficacy over time against standard straings of COVID-19 and then also what's going to happen with all of these variants that have been circulating globally," we'll need additional vaccine doses. "I think it will be more like the annual flu shot. And there's even some discussion about trying to combine the COVID vaccine with ... 

Shaffer co-authors Nature Genetics paper: Shared Heritability of Human Face and Brain Shape

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HUGEN's John R. Shaffer (HUGEN '08) and Dental Medicine's Seth M. Weinberg co-authored a paper Evidence from model organisms and clinical genetics suggests coordination between the developing brain and face, but the role of this link in common genetic variation remains unknown.   

Wenzel and colleagues discover mechanisms of severe asthma

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UPMC - Wheezing, coughing that doesn’t stop, a pale and sweaty face: clinically, severe asthma attacks look very similar from patient to patient. But biologically, not all severe asthma is the same—and a team of scientists including EOH Chair Sally Wenzel has, for the first time, identified the key difference in people, a finding that has important implications for treatment.   

Roberts talks vaccine hesitancy and likely need for additional vaccine dosage (video)

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WTAE - "I'm worried that vaccine hesitancy is going to prevent us, in many parts of the country, from achieving herd immunity. Local communities that are more hesitant, it could mean they are more at risk," said HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. Roberts also weighed in on the likelihood and reasoning for potentially needing additional vaccine boosters in the future.   

Dean Lichtveld exemplifies the power of prevention

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After receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at an interprofessional clinic on campus, Dean Maureen Lichtveld celebrated by posing with a life-sized picture of Jonas Salk – a symbol of the importance of vaccines and one of the core principles of public health: prevention. Lichtveld shares her experience in an effort to encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect our communities, get back to campus, and back to our lives.   

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

New research from Roberts shows Medicare and Medicaid fail Americans just above the poverty line

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ACADEMIC TIMES - Americans who receive Medicare but make slightly too much money to qualify for supplemental coverage from Medicaid spend thousands more dollars on out-of-pocket medical expenses while receiving fewer outpatient services and prescriptions than people covered by both programs, according to new research by HPM's Eric Roberts and colleagues.   

Burke: First COVID-19 vaccine shot just as effective as the second

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered to curb the spread of the disease require two shots for full protection, but some experts say one shot may be enough, at least for now. "As soon as I saw the reports on the Moderna and Pfizer applications for emergency use authorization, I saw both had striking effectiveness," said EPI's Donald Burke.   

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Research Videos

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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 pollution controls. "This is the type of data that helps shape policy about a... (05/06/2021)
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Mendez talks Black Maternal Health in Adagio Health's Better Health Outcomes Speakers Series 

Mendez talks Black Maternal Health in Adagio Health's Better Health Outcomes Speakers Series

In observance of Black Maternal Health week, EPI's Dara Mendez presented Black Maternal Health in Pennsylvania and the U.S., presenting data, discussing the implcations of racism and next steps. Open for the full recording.  (05/06/2021)
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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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