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November 17, 2020
University Interfaith Office Receives Youth Core Award
The University Interfaith Office was recognized with the Racial Equity and Interfaith Cooperation Award from the Interfaith Youth Core, a national non-profit organization whose “We Are Each Other’s” campaign aims to support interfaith leaders responding to the current national crises.
The office was recognized for “Interfaith in Living Color,” an idea proposal that Emiola Oriola, director of the Office of Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement, hopes will emphasize the complexities of people’s lives and how identities intersect.
“The goal is to have people submit short written stories with pictures, similar to the ‘Humans of New York’ projects on Facebook and Instagram,” said Oriola. “The project is meant to highlight the nuances in our identities, the why to our what, and bring context to content.”
The program is planned to begin Monday, Jan. 18, 2021—coinciding with the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday—and will continue through February’s Black History Month. In addition to being shared on social media, the stories will be archived on a website, and participants will be entered into a raffle to win prizes from the office.
November 17, 2020
Mark Gladwin Receives Distinguished Scientist Designation from American Heart Association
Mark Gladwin, the Jack D. Myers Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a distinguished scientist, the highest honor bestowed upon a science volunteer by the association. This prestigious title is bestowed on an elite group of scientists whose work has importantly advanced the understanding of cardiovascular disease, stroke and brain health.
Gladwin has published more than 450 manuscripts in the fields of vascular and nitrite biology. Among his major scientific discoveries is the finding that nitrite salt is a biological signaling molecule that regulates physiological and pathological hypoxic responses, blood pressure and flow, and cell function. His studies have translated to the clinical and epidemiological description of pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary complications of sickle cell disease.
Gladwin currently serves as principal investigator on a new multi-center clinical trial of Riociguat to treat patients with sickle cell disease and pulmonary hypertension as well as principal investigator on a multi-center trial, called the “Sickle Cell Disease and Cardiovascular Risk—Red Cell Exchange Trial.”
November 16, 2020
SCI Researcher Malihe Alikhani Wins Grant to Support Underrepresented Students
Malihe Alikhani, assistant professor of computer science in the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh, recently received a Google ExploreCSR grant to support students from underrepresented groups to pursue graduate studies and research careers in computing.
Since 2018, the exploreCSR awards have supported universities in designing and hosting research-focused workshops during the academic year that expose students from underrepresented groups to computing research methodologies, career pathways and exploratory problems.
Alikhani’s research interests are in natural language processing (language technology), cognitive science and human computation.
November 16, 2020
Michael MacKenzie Co-Authors Piece Arguing for More Open Disagreement Among Scientists in Political Settings
Michael MacKenzie, assistant professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Art and Sciences, recently co-authored an analysis piece published in the British Medical Journal arguing for more open disagreement and diversity in expertise among scientists in political settings.
MacKenzie worked with Alfred Moore from the University of York in the United Kingdom on the piece. MacKenzie’s research focuses on democratic theory, political representation and public engagement among other areas.
The two suggest that scientific experts be allowed to carefully craft messaging rather than having political committee deliberations published to eliminate misinterpretation, have experts vote to form collective judgments, take the selection of relevant experts out of the hands of political leaders and encourage competing groups of experts to contribute to policy debates.
November 12, 2020
Portfolio Company to Join LifeX Labs Incubator Program
LifeX Labs recently announced that a new portfolio company, Duo Oncology, will be joining its Incubator program. Duo Oncology is developing ultra-small nanoparticles that can carry multiple agents deep into established tumors. The company is developing its lead product, DUO-207, for pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and other hard-to-treat tumors.
The LifeX Labs Incubator program serves as a springboard for transformational startup companies in Pittsburgh and the surrounding regions through a series of curated services, affordable office and lab space, and industry and investor networks to launch and grow new ventures. LifeX Labs is supported by the University of Pittsburgh and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.
“We are looking forward to having Duo Oncology join our ever-growing ecosystem. They are creating a product that is trying to solve a significant challenge in cancer therapy. This company has the possibility to save lives impacted by cancer, as their product, which helps therapies reach cancer cells, is unlike any other technology,” said Evan Facher, interim CEO of LifeX Labs and director of Pitt’s Innovation Institute.
November 12, 2020
Undergrad Taylor Daniels Receives Prestigious Chemical Engineering Scholarship
Taylor Daniels, a senior studying chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has received the prestigious 2019-2020 Donald F. & Mildred Topp Othmer Scholarship.
The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to 15 AIChE student members annually based on their academic achievement and involvement in student chapter activities. AlChE is an organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 60,000 members.
“I am so honored to have received the 2020 Donald F. & Mildred Topp Othmer Scholarship from AIChE and am excited to attend my first AIChE Annual Student Conference this month to virtually receive my award,” said Daniels. “I hope to continue my involvement in AIChE as I begin my career by continuing to attend conferences, building my professional network through AIChE, and also taking advantage of training and continuing education credits.”
November 12, 2020
Company Has ‘Largest IPO’ Out of Any Pitt Spinout
Oncorus, a company spun out of the University of Pittsburgh, recently initiated an initial public stock offering, raising nearly $90 million as it enters clinical trials on its oncolytic virus cancer therapy. That amount is being called the “largest IPO of a Pitt spinout” by the University’s Innovation Institute.
The technology for the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company was licensed from Pitt from the lab of Joseph Glorioso, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics in Pitt’s School of Medicine. Glorioso was one of the founders of Oncorus and is chair of the company’s scientific advisory board. The company, founded in 2016, had previously raised approximately $140 million in private investment.
“It’s great. It’s a substantial amount of money,” said Glorioso. “It’s really based on not only the technology within the company being tested in patients, but also other technologies that are very exciting and will be used to treat people with cancer.”
November 10, 2020
LRDC Scientists Receive $900,000 Grant to Study Robots in Math Classrooms
Erin Walker (pictured), associate professor in the School of Computing and Information (SCI) and research scientist in the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been named principal investigator for a $900,000 National Science Foundation grant to study the use of robots in middle school math classrooms. Co-principal investigators on the grant are Diane Litman, professor of computer science and senior scientist in the LRDC; Timothy Nokes-Malach, associate professor of psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist in the LRDC; and Adriana Kovashka, assistant professor in SCI.
Walker and colleagues will investigate the use of robots to support collaborative learning. When students work together with an intelligent tutoring system such as a robot, they are able to learn more and explain their reasoning while also building on each other’s ideas. Walker and colleagues will investigate if the robot’s gaze or gestures, combined with dialogue, can promote middle school students' collaborative interactions and lead to more math learning. The main goal of the project is to gain a better understanding of how robots can be integrated effectively in learning environments.
Walker has also recently received a Google AI 2020 Award for Inclusion Research with colleague Leshell Hatley, of Coppin State University in Baltimore. In this work, Walker and Hatley are collaborating on a project to develop a dialogue system for a culturally responsive robot.
November 10, 2020
Dimiter Stanchev Dimitrov Named ‘Science Superhero’
Dimitrov was recognized on the list as one of the first to discover neutralizing antibodies for the original SARS coronavirus in 2003. In the ensuing years, his team discovered potent antibodies against many other infectious diseases. His lab recently isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that completely and specifically neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of COVID-19.
November 10, 2020
Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report for FY2019 Released
Pitt is actively working toward carbon neutrality by 2037, with an incremental goal of 50% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than 2008 by 2030.
The University’s fiscal year 2019 inventory indicates Pitt has already reduced GHG emissions by 21%. Dig into the details about how Pitt has been tracking and reducing our GHG impact over time through inventories published triennially since 2008 or check out the GHG dashboard. Moving forward, the GHG inventory reports will be released annually.
November 9, 2020
Heather Lyke Elected President of Women Leaders Organization
Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke has been named president-elect of the Women Leaders in College Sports organization. Lyke will serve on a three-year executive track beginning this year.
Founded in 1979, Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA) is the only nationally recognized collegiate professional membership organization whose mission is to develop, connect and advance women leaders working in intercollegiate athletics. With more than 3,500 members, the organization promotes the growth, leadership and success of women as athletics administrators, conference commissioners, professional staff, coaches and student-athletes.
In a release naming Lyke president-elect, along with new members of its board of directors and nominating committees, the organization highlighted Lyke’s leadership of Pitt Athletics, including her recruitment of new head coaches, rebranding of the University’s athletic marks and logos and unveiling of Pitt Studios.
Lyke served on the Women Leaders board of directors from 2014-2018.
November 6, 2020
SHRS Appoints New Associate Deans
The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences recently named four faculty to new associate dean positions in an effort to address major school-wide initiatives.
- David Beck, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, will take on an additional role as associate dean for interprofessional studies.
- M. Kathleen Kelly, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, will assume responsibilities as associate dean for academic outreach and advising.
- Thomas Platt, vice chair of the Division of Community Health Services and associate professor and director of Pitt’s Emergency Medicine program, has been named associate dean for academic partnerships.
- Bernard Rousseau, professor and chair in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders, will serve as the associate dean for equity, inclusion and community engagement.
For each faculty leader’s roles, visit the school’s page.
November 6, 2020
Maragaret Rosenzweig Wins Nursing Award for Academic and Clinical Work
Margaret Rosenzweig, a two-time alumna and Distinguished Service Professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, is the 2020 recipient of the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research’s President’s Award (FNINR).
The award is given annually to a researcher who engages both academia and clinical practice partners.
Rosenzweig has been principal investigator on 15 studies addressing cancer survivorship, symptom management, end of life care and disparities among women with breast cancer. Her work has contributed to the understanding of racial differences in the completion of breast cancer treatment and the identification of geographic risk for higher breast cancer mortality.
November 6, 2020
National Kidney Foundation Appoints Paul M. Palevsky President of its National Board
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) announced that nephrologist Paul M. Palevsky as the next president of its board of directors. Palevsky, a Pitt professor of medicine and chief of kidney medicine at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, will serve a two-year term.
“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to help lead the NKF and to advocate for the estimated 37 million adults in the U.S. with kidney disease and the millions more at risk,” Palevsky said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made apparent the vulnerabilities of patients with kidney disease and has highlighted disparities in medical care, particularly among minority communities, that we must address."
Palevsky is internationally recognized as an expert in acute kidney injury and critical care nephrology and has helped lead multiple clinical trials focused on management of acute dialysis, prevention of acute kidney injury and slowing the progression of diabetic kidney disease.
The board meets three times per year and is charged with fiduciary, fundraising and governance responsibilities for NKF.
November 6, 2020
Statistics’ Joshua Cape Awarded NSF Grant to Study Immigration and US Job Market
Joshua Cape, assistant professor of statistics in the University of Pittsburgh's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, together with collaborators at Johns Hopkins University, has received a $550,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the proposal “Methods and Applications for Massive One-mode and Bipartite Social Networks.”
The NSF grant will enable Cape and his colleagues to develop new methods and modeling capabilities for large-scale network data. Using datasets from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program at the U.S. Census Bureau, the project will examine the influence of immigration on the U.S. job market over time. The transdisciplinary research team consists of principal investigator Angelo Mele, co-principal investigators Lingxin Hao, Carey E. Priebe—all from Johns Hopkins University—and Joshua Cape.
November 6, 2020
Pitt Researchers to Study Gender-Integrated Recruit Training in Military Settings
The Neuromuscular Research Laboratory/Warrior Human Performance Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh was recently awarded $2 million from the U.S. Marine Corps to study gender-integrated recruit training.
The multi-institutional collaborative study will analyze combinations of gender-integrated training and make recommendations for models that integrate genders to the greatest extent possible while continuing to train Marines to established standards. Specifically, the study will address the sociological and physical training effects of increased gender integration and consider training models which maintain the same level of discipline, physical fitness, attention to detail and camaraderie.
“The Academic Study of U.S. Marine Corps Gender-Integrated Recruit Training will utilize a multistage mixed-method study design and address multidisciplinary evaluation questions through both a social science and human performance lens,” said co-principal investigator Mita Lovalekar, who is an associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “Our study will also assess musculoskeletal injury patterns between male and female recruits during entry level training which will extend upon our prior work identifying the financial and medical costs for these injuries and the negative impact on military readiness.”
November 4, 2020
Wells Competition Awards Three Healthcare Startup Teams
The winners included BioBulwark, a mesh implant that provides long-lasting prevention of infection superior to currently popular organic chemical coatings; Biocarpet, an endovascular device that can be shaped by heat to treat peripheral arterial disease occurring in small and complex anatomies, including lesions occurring across joints; and OPS, an endovascular device that provides oxygenated blood flow to critical abdominal organs to maintain organ health for transplant harvesting.
The competition usually awards grand prize winners $20,000, second-place winners $10,000 and third-place winners $5,000. The competition’s namesake, Michael G. Wells (pictured), said the decision to distribute prize money equally came from the judging panel determining that these teams could benefit from money and time to move their ideas along. Wells also said prize money that wasn’t given out will be awarded to teams early next year who have shown “demonstrable progress” in their respective projects.
November 4, 2020
Web App for Surgical, Anesthetic Scheduling Wins Kuzneski Cup
The project is a multi-platform web application that allows for the efficient delivery of real-time surgical and anesthetic scheduling information. The research is being led by Evan Lebovitz, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, and Mark E. Hudson, UPMC Richard J. Kuwik Endowed Professor in the same department.
Second place was awarded to AI Smiles, an additive-manufactured denture that dramatically reduces cost, appointments and waste in dental settings. Third prize was awarded to NanoNares, a platform technology for pharmaceutical companies that develop respiratory drugs which experience high failure rates in clinical trials.
November 4, 2020
Pitt Students Qualify for International Chem-E-Car Competition
Preparing for a race without knowing how far you have to go is a difficult test of skill. It’s even more demanding when you have to compete virtually.
A team of Pitt students met that challenge in October when their model car—propelled by a chemical mix of their own creation—finished fourth in the regional leg of the Chem-E-Car Competition, qualifying them for the international finals on Nov. 15.
The annual Chem-E-Car Competition, sponsored by AIChE, the global association of chemical engineers, requires student teams to create a small car with chemical propulsion and stopping mechanisms that allow it to travel a specified distance and carry a payload (0-500 mL of water).
“I’m so proud of what the team has accomplished, especially under such challenging conditions,” said Taryn Bayles, vice chair of undergraduate education and professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at Pitt. “Their hard work paid off, and I look forward to seeing them succeed again at the international competition.”
November 3, 2020
Joel Philistin Named New Financial Wellness Program Director
The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (OAFA) and Student Affairs have jointly named Joel Philistin their financial wellness program director. Philistin started in the newly created position in September.
“Financial wellness represents being equipped with the knowledge, skills and resources to make informed financial decisions. The financial decisions that college students make today can impact them well beyond graduation. Our program goal is to give our students the tools to build a strong financial foundation for now and after graduation.” said Philistin.
Philistin came to Pitt from the College of the Mainland, where he served as a financial literacy educator and financial aid advisor from 2018 to 2020. There, he relaunched the college’s financial literacy program with an emphasis on classroom workshops and increasing financial aid applications; over two years, the number of students who applied for financial aid at the college increased by 3%.
Philistin also worked at Houston Community College where he helped develop an award-winning student loan debt series and launched several initiatives, including a food scholarship program and Hurricane Harvey emergency grant. Prior to his work in higher education, Philistin worked in the banking industry, first as a teller and then assistant branch manager, before earning a master’s degree in public administration with a focus on non-profit management.
Randall McCready, executive director of financial aid in OAFA, hopes the new position will engage students to learn more about their finances especially during a time of great economic uncertainty.