Accolades

Dean Burke wins John Snow Award for epidemiologic work

Dr. Donald S. Burke, dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and professor of health science and policy, has received the John Snow Award from the American Public Health Association and the Royal Society for Public Health.

The award, which annually recognizes an outstanding scientist for excellence in epidemiologic practice or research, was be presented to Burke on Nov. 12 in San Diego at the 2018 APHA annual meeting.  

Awardees are chosen for their contributions to the improvement of human health or substantial reduction in burden of disease through innovations in public health practice, based on clear epidemiologic foundations or implementation of epidemiologic approaches to the solution of health problems.

More details here.

Forbes 30 Under 30 picks two Pitt researchers

Two Pitt researchers were named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in the health care category for 2019.

  • Inmaculada Hernandez, 28, assistant professor in Pharmacy and Therapeutics, started her own research group in 2016 at Pitt after her completing her Ph.D. at 25. Forbes cited her research on drug pricing, which found prices of drugs increase twice as fast during a shortage as they would otherwise and quantified the full cost of recently approved CAR T-cell cancer therapies.
  • Shinjini Kundu, 28, a doctor at UPMC and medical researcher at Pitt, developed a new technology to analyze medical images and detect disease using artificial intelligence while enrolled in the joint Pitt/Carnegie Mellon Medical Scientist Training Program.

Med school professor Beigi to head Magee hospital

Dr. Richard Beigi, a professor of reproductive sciences in the School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, is set to become the president of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. He will be the first physician to lead a UPMC hospital.

Beigi, who currently serves as Magee’s chief medical officer, will succeed Leslie Davis on Jan. 1, 2019.

“Dr. Beigi has deep compassion for patients, and combined with his intelligence and leadership, he is the ideal new president of Magee. I have full confidence that the hospital, supported by an excellent executive team, is in highly capable hands,” Davis said in a news release. “Dr. Beigi also will bring his commitment to academic rigor and, combined with his compassionate leadership, Magee will only get better because of him.”

More details here.

University Wins Innovation and Economic Prosperity Award

The University of Pittsburgh Office of Economic Partnerships has been awarded the Association of Public and Land-grant University (APLU) Innovation and Economic Prosperity award. The award recognizes exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development. Winners are limited to universities that have conducted internal studies examining its local and regional economic engagement and have been designated by APLU as Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities. The University of Pittsburgh first earned the designation in 2014. Sixty-four institutions have been named IEP University designees since the program was launched in 2012.

In its announcement of the award, the APLU praised Pitt for work with the Brookings Institution and Pitt’s Immune Transplant and Therapy Center, noting the latter as "one of a host of innovation hubs the university is launching across the city to support pathbreaking research and business development."

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Mary Rugh Inducted Into Electric League of Western Pennsylvania’s Hall of Honor

Mary Rugh, senior manager for electrical in Facilities Management, has been inducted into the Electric League of Western Pennsylvania’s Hall of Honor.

This lifetime achievement award recognizes those who have made significant contributions in furthering the high ideals and goals of the industry. 

Rugh’s career in electrical engineering includes her work over the past 33 years on the University’s electrical infrastructure systems.

She is responsible for operation and maintenance of the University’s Pittsburgh campus 5kV electric power distribution system. Rugh has negotiated University electric contracts since the inception of deregulation, saving the University more than $10 million over the past two decades.

A professional engineer, she came to Pitt in 1985 as a control systems engineer, was promoted to senior electrical engineer in 1997 and became senior manager for electrical in 2015.

She has been part of the Electric League since 2008 and serves on its education and expo committees.

Heng Huang awarded NSF grant to study anesthesia complications

The National Science Foundation awarded $1.2 million to the Swanson School of Engineering to support research into using machine learning and Big Data to analyze electronic anesthesia records and prevent postoperative complications and death.

Heng Huang, John A. Jurenko Professor in Computer Engineering at Pitt, is principal investigator on the study titled “SCH: INT: New Machine Learning Framework to Conduct Anesthesia Risk Stratification and Decision Support for Precision Health.” Huang will analyze more than two million cases of anesthesia data taken from 303 UPMC clinics and treatment centers.

Huang is collaborating with co-principal investigators Dan Li, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and Fei Zhang, certified registered nurse anesthetist in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. Find more details here.

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Adrian Lee Receives Distinguished Mentor Award

Adrian Lee, a biomedical professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, recently received the Distinguished Mentor Award from Pitt’s Biomedical Graduate Student Association.

Lee earned the award for his “service to graduate students through research training, teaching and administration.”

Lee also serves as director of the Institute for Precision Medicine and director of the Womens Cancer Research Center. His research areas include pharmacology of cell and organ systems, cancer genomics, systems biology of cancer and hormone signaling and action.

Rory Cooper is Highest American Finisher in Berlin Marathon Race

Rory Cooper, director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, was the highest finishing American to complete the men’s handbiker competition of the Berlin Marathon, held in September. Cooper placed 49th out of 111 finishers with a time of 1:26:17.

“The course had a lot of turns, and a couple of grades, but no hills. The roads are very fast,” Cooper said. “I was able to stay with a small group of the ‘fast’ riders until mile 22, which helped me to finish in about 86 minutes.”

Cooper also serves as associate dean for inclusion in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and is a distinguished professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.

Susan Fullerton One of Five Nationwide to Receive Chemical Sciences Award

Susan Fullerton, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, recently received the 2019 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences.

Fullerton was one of five recipients nationwide recognized for “extraordinary contributions through their research programs and demonstrate a commitment to move their fields forward.” Her research group seeks to establish a fundamental understanding of ion-electron transport at the molecular level to design next-generation electronic devices at the limit of scaling for memory, logic and energy storage.

The award is given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Read more about Fullerton at the Swanson School’s website.

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3 Pitt Researchers Named to National Academy of Medicine

Three medical researchers from the University of Pittsburgh were recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

The elected researchers are Amy Houtrow, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine; Clifton Callaway, professor and Ronald D. Stewart Endowed Chair in Research in Pitt’s Department of Emergency Medicine; and Robert Friedlander, the Walter E. Dandy Professor of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

The academy addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. It also works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation, and conducts other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.

 

 

Associate professors Adam Lee and Rosta Farzan receive NSF award for privacy work

Adam Lee and Rosta Farzan, associate professors in the School of Computing and Information, recently received more than $280,000 from the National Science Foundation for their project that explores privacy-enhanced sensor designs that provide people with the knowledge and assurance of when they are being recorded and what data is being captured.

Today, casual conversations and encounters, that were once thought to be private, may now be recorded and archived digitally. Networked microphones and cameras can give rise to serious electronic privacy concerns. While these types of devices that listen to us and capture data can benefit users in many ways, users may also face serious privacy violations. Their project brings together expertise in computer security and privacy, access control, human computer interaction and social computing. Through this interdisciplinary team, the goal is to make socio-technical contributions to both theory and practice. Lee and Farzan’s project combines hardware and software techniques to tangibly and visually convey a sense of privacy to people who are impacted by sensors.

Epidemiologist Jane Cauley Wins Prestigious Service Award

Jane A. Cauley has received the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2018 Shirley Hohl Service Award. Cauley is a distinguished professor and executive vice chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. She received the award after volunteering for numerous positions and projects with the society.

Cauley’s primary research interest is the epidemiology of osteoporosis, especially the worldwide ethnic and geographic variability in fracture, osteoporosis screening and treatment, risk factors for fractures and the consequences of osteoporosis in both men and women.

Epidemiologist Jane Cauley wins prestigious service award

Jane A. Cauley has received the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2018 Shirley Hohl Service Award. Cauley is a distinguished professor and executive vice chair of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. She received the award after volunteering for numerous positions and projects with the society.

Cauley’s primary research interest is the epidemiology of osteoporosis, especially the worldwide ethnic and geographic variability in fracture, osteoporosis screening and treatment, risk factors for fractures and the consequences of osteoporosis in both men and women.

School of Medicine’s David Binion wins 2018 Sherman Prize

David Binion, professor of medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine and co-director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, was recently named a recipient of the 2018 Sherman Prize.

The award, presented by the Bruce and Cynthia Sherman Charitable Foundation, recognizes outstanding contributions in the fight to overcome Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which are known as inflammatory bowel diseases.

Binion was recognized for the “novelty and creativity” of his research on the immunologic, cellular and physiologic alterations associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, applying his insights to improving care for those most severely impacted by these diseases.

Two Female Faculty Members Recognized for Research in Computational Social Science

Professor Diane Litman and Associate Professor Yu-ru Lin have been named to SAGE journal’s list of 39 women doing amazing research in computational social science across the world. The list includes women who have made significant contributions to social sciences and humanities with their innovative use of computational methods and explorations of cutting edge tech.

Litman, professor of computer science and co-director of the Intelligent Systems Program, focuses on artificial intelligence and its application to a variety of areas including linguistics, education, reasoning and behavior. Lin, also in the School of Computing and Engineering, leads the Pitt Computational Social Dynamics Lab. Her research focuses around the ways we become more informed and how that affects our behavior.

Three Pitt Researchers Win NIH Director’s Awards

Peter Strick, the Thomas Detre Professor of Neuroscience and distinguished professor and chair of neurobiology, was one of three Pitt people to receive NIH Director’s Awards this year. Strick earned the Transformative Research Award, part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, for his work on identifying a biological basis for the mind-body connection.

Warren Ruder, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Erik Wright, assistant professor of biomedical informatics, each won NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards, given to “exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose high-impact projects.”

Ruder’s team will work to engineer cells that can be activated by high magnetic field gradients; Wright’s group will use thousands of microbial genomes to discover new antibiotics and figure out better ways of prescribing them to address the serious public health threat of antibiotic resistance.

Find more details about the project at PittWire.

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Mary Allias named distinguished fellow of American Academy of Physician Assistants

Mary Allias, an assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Studies program at Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been recognized as a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants for exemplary achievement in service to the profession, the advancement of health care and in dedication to the community. This honor is bestowed upon an elite group of less than one percent of practicing physician assistants.

Allias’ interests include instructional methods for enhancing clinical reasoning and communication, as well as workforce issues surrounding the physician assistant profession.

State awards $2 million for Pitt-Bradford tech building

Pitt-Bradford has been awarded $2 million in state funding to support development of new engineering and technology facilities.

“This grant will be critical to us in developing the facilities which will make it possible for us to offer new academic programs and expand existing ones. This is an investment that will provide benefits for many years to multiple generations of Pitt students, as well as to the companies in the region who will hire our graduates,” said Pitt-Bradford Interim President Lawrence Feick.

The campus plans to develop a building to house classrooms, engineering and computer labs and shops and other specialized spaces to support new programs to meet local education and workforce needs. 

An architectural firm has been hired to study whether to construct a new building or to acquire and renovate an existing building to accommodate the new programs.

headshot of Ann Thompson

School of Medicine’s Ann Thompson Wins Leadership Award

Ann Thompson, Vice Dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was recently announced as a winner of the 2018 Leadership Award for an Individual from the Group on Women in Medicine and Science.

The award is given to given to people and organizations that demonstrate “a significant impact for the advancement of women's roles in academic medicine and science.”

Thompson, who is also a Professor of Critical Care Medicine and Pediatrics in the School of Medicine, will receive the award at Learn Serve Lead 2018 in Austin, Texas, Nov. 2-6. The annual event is held by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Badylak in a gray/brown suit

Technologies Developed in McGowan Lab Licensed for Development

ECM Therapeutics, Inc. has licensed multiple extracellular matrix (ECM) technologies developed in the laboratory of Stephen Badylak (pictured) at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, including hydrogels, bioactive derivatives and methods for delivering these materials within the body. 

The Pittsburgh based company will initially develop EsophaGel™, an ECM hydrogel for the treatment of Barrett's Esophagus which is often a precursor to esophageal cancer. EsophaGel has been shown in pre-clinical studies to halt and possibly reverse the progression of esophageal cancer.  

"We are pleased to license this portfolio of patents and patent applications to a startup company based in the Pittsburgh region," said Alex Ducruet, director for licensing and intellectual property in Pitt's Innovation Institute. "Dr. Badylak is one of Pitt's most prolific innovators, and we look forward to the positive impact that these regenerative medicine technologies will have on people's lives."

ECM Therapeutics was founded by Badylak and business development colleague Katie Collins. Badylak lab members Jenna Dziki and George Hussey and the University of Pittsburgh hold equity in the company.