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Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing Receives Funding for Two Projects

Pitt’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing recently announced two new collaborations that both aim to tackle some of the toughest questions to address patient risk and prescribing practices relating to opioids.

In one project, the center will work with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health to add advanced analytics to its Overdose Data to Action response. “Our goal in applying machine learning to opioid data has always been to find ways to use these new techniques in real-life situations to help make better decisions and better policies around the epidemic,” said Walid Gellad, center director and associate professor of medicine and health policy and management at Pitt. The project, through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will go through August 2022.

Another project is a continuation of funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to develop and implement machine learning risk prediction models to help improve opioid overdose prevention and treatment. The center recently received an additional two years of funding from the foundation to continue working with the Department of Human Services in Allegheny County. The goal is to implement this modeling tool in the county, after robust community discussion and ethical review, to help address the opioid epidemic.

Vanitha Swaminathan

Pitt Business Partners With AR/VR Firm for a New Marketing Course and Case Competition

The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business is partnering with AR/VR company ImagineAR, to launch a new business disruption series with the course, “Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) for Brands and Strategy,” taught by Vanitha Swaminathan, Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing.

Students, working in teams, will design an AR/VR branding campaign for a real business or company with the help of ImagineAR and will conclude the course with a 10-minute video presentation showcasing their ideas.

“The offering of this course is extremely unique and timely,” said Swaminathan. “The current health crisis has required marketers to be even more creative in how to engage fans and customers. Augmented and virtual reality tools will provide new, creative ways of engaging with customers during this challenging period of social distancing.”

The online course will be offered to MBA and MS students this spring and eventually will be open as well to undergraduates in the College of Business Administration.

The course also will tie into a new Katz Augmented Reality Case Competition for graduate students, co-sponsored by the Center for Branding, Katz Marketing Club, Katz Technology Club and ImagineAR. The competition will expand students’ experiences and challenge them to think through how AR/VR technologies can improve the brand experience.

Read more about this new course.

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New Research Examines Use of Earth-Abundant Metals

Platinum, rhodium and other precious metals are used as industrial catalysts, but they're a limited and expensive resource.

John Keith, associate professor of chemical engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, contributed to a new paper in the journal Science that explores the use of earth-abundant metals instead. Earth-abundant metal catalysts are common in nature. Engineering new catalysts based on the natural world would dramatically reduce the cost and environmental footprint of industrial processes.

“Humans have developed portfolios of rare metals that work in industrial catalysis, but nature has its own portfolios of biological enzymes that use complex combinations of earth-abundant metals,” said Keith, who is an R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. “When we decipher nature’s blueprints for catalysis based on these metals, we can engineer new earth-abundant, metal-based catalysts to dramatically reduce the cost and environmental footprint of industrial processes needed for making materials, medicines, fuels and chemicals.”

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Mary Goldberg Named to RESNA Board of Directors

Mary Goldberg, an associate professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, was elected to the national board of directors this summer for the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.

The society is the premier professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.

Goldberg’s research interests include rehabilitation and assistive technologies. She is also the education and outreach project director at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories.

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University Publications Bring Home Golden Quill Awards

The people who bring you Pittwire, Pitt Magazine and Pitt Med magazine produce award-winning content. On Sept. 3, the teams took home 21 winner or finalist awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania’s Golden Quill Awards.

Of special note: Associate Editor of Pitt Med magazine Gavin Jenkins took home the Ray Sprigle Memorial Award: Magazines for his story, "Oct. 27, 2018: Pittsburgh's Darkest Day, and the Mass Casualty Response," about the local and Pitt responders to the Tree of Life tragedy. 

See all Pitt’s winners, including audio, photography, writing and video awardees.

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Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses Receives NIH Funding

The Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses, a national research resource based at the University of Pittsburgh, recently received a five-year, $4.25 million award from the National Institutes of Health to continue its work.

The center provides the neuroscience community at Pitt and throughout the world with access to the highly specialized reagents, training and facilities that are necessary to use neurotropic viruses as transneuronal tracers. This technique is providing fundamental new insights into the functional architecture of sensory, motor, cognitive and affective networks in the central nervous system. For example, Pitt researchers led by center director Peter Strick discovered the mind-body connection between the gut and the brain using this approach. 

"We’ve developed a terrific tool for investigating neural networks in the brain and we are sharing it with investigators all over the world,” said Strick, who is also scientific director of Pitt’s Brain Institute and chair of Pitt’s neurobiology department in the School of Medicine.

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New Engineering Research Looks at Heat Transfer in Metal Organic Frameworks

New research from an interdisciplinary team that includes the University of Pittsburgh examines heat transfer in metal organic frameworks and the role it plays when these frameworks are used for storing fuel. The research was published this summer in the journal Nature Communications.

In order to use them for fuel storage and other applications when gases are loaded quickly into metal organic frameworks, the frameworks would need to be kept cool. This research looked at thermal transport in the frameworks to explore how quickly they can shed excess heat, and the group found some surprising results: filling the frameworks with gas makes them more insulating. 

“By taking porous materials and filling them, thereby removing those gaps, you would expect the thermal transport to improve, making it more thermally conductive,” said co-author Christopher Wilmer, William Kepler Whiteford Faculty Fellow and associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “The opposite happens; they become more insulating.”

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Engineering’s Katherine Hornbostel Named Fellow at Research Corporation for Science Advancement

The Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) has named Katherine Hornbostel, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, as a fellow for Scialog: Negative Emissions Science. RCSA’s new initiative gathered more than 50 early-career scientists to tackle the issue of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere and oceans. Scialog: Negative Emissions Science will kick off with a virtual conference on Nov. 5-6, 2020.

Learn more about Hornbostel's research and appointment

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Audrey J. Murrell Appointed Editor of Study Abroad Journal

Audrey J. Murrell, acting dean of the University Honors College, will serve as the incoming editor of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, which is sponsored by The Forum on Education Abroad organization.

The journal supports interdisciplinary research on the importance of global education as a high impact educational practice, and it is the only open-access, scholarly journal focusing exclusively on education abroad research.

During her time as associate dean of the College of Business Administration at Pitt, Murrell established the schools’ first Office of International Programs, which expanded the portfolio of business-focused study abroad programs, anchored by the creation of the Global Business Institute

In addition to her role with Pitt Honors, Murrell is a professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and the College of Business Administration and holds secondary appointments in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology.

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Nathan Carnovale Receives IEEE Scholarship

The IEEE Educational Activities Board (EAB) has selected Nathan Carnovale (ENGR '19), graduate student in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, to receive the Charles LeGeyt Fortescue Graduate Scholarship

The scholarship was named for Charles LeGeyt Fortescue (1876-1936), an electrical engineer who spent his career at the Westinghouse Corporation, in recognition of his contributions to the field of electrical engineering. The award is given to a beginning graduate student for one year of full-time graduate work in electrical engineering.

Read more on the Swanson School’s website

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Sharon Alvarez Elected to Academy of Management Leadership Track

Sharon Alvarez, Thomas W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurship and professor of business administration in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, has been elected to the Academy of Management (AOM) Board of Governors executive track.

Her five-year term begins as vice president elect and program chair elect, culminating as AOM president, and a final year as past president.

The AOM is the preeminent professional association for management and organization scholars, with nearly 20,000 members across more than 120 countries. Its members are business professors and doctoral students, academics in related social sciences and other fields, and practitioners.

Alvarez recently finished a three-year term as an editor of the organization’s flagship journal, the AOM Review.

Her theoretical research, “Discovery and Creation: Alternative Theories of Entrepreneurial Action,” won the AOM Entrepreneurship Division 2019 Foundational Paper Award and the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal Best Paper Award.

Alvarez earned her doctoral degree in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship and strategic management and her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado and her master’s degree in international management from the University of Denver.

Read more about her appointment in the Katz school’s news feature.

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Lawrence Feick Named Interim Associate Dean of Pitt’s College of Business Administration

Lawrence Feick, professor of business administration, has been appointed interim associate dean of Pitt’s College of Business Administration for the next two years, effective Aug. 1, 2020. He succeeds Anthony Rodi, who is resuming a full-time teaching load this fall.

Since joining the Pitt Business faculty in 1982, Feick has played a key role in the development of undergraduate initiatives, including the Introduction to Marketing course and the Plus3 Germany study abroad program. Since December 2019, he has served as interim director of executive education for Pitt Business.

Feick also has held a variety of leadership roles, including as the University’s senior international officer, as vice provost and as interim president of Pitt’s regional campuses at Bradford and Titusville. 

“From the beginning, Pitt Business has benefited from superb leadership,” said Feick. “I am looking forward to working with the faculty and staff to continue to build an even stronger undergraduate program—one where our students make a difference and our alumni lead fulfilling lives of impact.”

Read more about this appointment.

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Pitt Dental Research Collaboration Receives More Than $31 Million

A multi-institute collaboration including the University of Pittsburgh received more than $31 million by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to study regenerative therapies and to improve patient care by providing solutions for the unmet clinical problems in dental, oral and craniofacial medicine. 

The Michigan-Pittsburgh-Wyss Regenerative Medicine (MPWRM) Resource Center is a multi-institute collaboration between the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine, McGowan Institute for Regenerative MedicinesciVelo and the Harvard University/Wyss Institute.

The funding will be used to support various projects from the center, such as developing a technology focused on disc repair for the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull and developing immunomodulatory strategies to treat periodontal disease.

The center has supported 19 interdisciplinary translational projects since its founding in 2017 to advance their research toward market implementation by offering comprehensive guidance in research and clinical, regulatory, market and business development.

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Pitt Again Ranks Among EPA’s Top Green Power Partners

The University of Pittsburgh has again been named among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 30 College and University green power users.

The July 2020 list reflects the top 30 higher education institutions in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership who purchase and/or generate large volumes of renewable electricity.

Pitt placed No. 30, with annual green power usage of just over 41 million kilowatt hours, representing 19% of the University’s annual power usage.

Green Power Partners commit to use green power for all or a portion of their annual electricity consumption. Pitt became a Green Power Partner in 2019. and also made the Top 30 list in July 2019.

Read more about this news on the Pitt Sustainability website.

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Katz Business Executive MBA Program Soars in ‘The Economist’ 2020 Ranking

The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) Worldwide program earned its best rankings ever in the biennial “Executive MBA Ranking” by The Economist.

In the recently released 2020 ranking, the Katz EMBA was rated No. 31 globally, up 18 spots from 2018. The Katz EMBA placed No. 20 nationally and No. 7 among public universities.

Ranking metrics are related to personal development, educational experience and career development and are based on a school survey and a survey of current students and alumni from the last three graduating classes.

Read more on the Katz school news page.

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Dara Mendez Receives National Recognition for Maternal and Child Health Research

The Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology and 15 national health organizations selected Dara Mendez as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Effective Practice at the Community Level.

Mendez is an assistant professor of epidemiology in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health, specializing in understanding and addressing racial and socioeconomic inequity in pregnancy, birth and women's health.

The award recognizes her significant work toward improving public health practice through effective use of data, epidemiology and applied research. It will be formally presented in September during the virtual CityMatCH Leadership and MCH Epidemiology Conference.


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Abdesalam Soudi Leads Discussion on Diversity, Invites Pitt Community to Join

Led by Abdesalam Soudi, a team of Pitt students, faculty and staff got together to discuss what diversity means to them. The result: “Living & Working Together: The Meaning and Value of Diversity,” a documentary that was produced as part of the Culture and Linguistic Diversity Conference at Pitt, held in 2017.

Now, three years later, Soudi, lecturer in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Linguistics, invites others to contribute to the conversation as the nation collectively evaluates how they can contribute to an anti-racist society.

“Diversity is a work in-progress and there are always opportunities to do better. What better approach to start than a project about diversity from the bottom-up? Diversity, after all, means different things to different people,” said Soudi.

If you are interested in sharing what diversity means to you, contact

Watch the trailer to the original documentary.

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Valerie Kinloch Speaks in Library of Congress Webinar on Legacy of Rosa Parks

Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, participated in a webinar hosted by the Library of Congress titled “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words.”

In the webinar, which was geared toward educators interested in using primary sources with their students, Kinloch connected Parks’ work and legacy with teaching and teacher education. She also discussed how Parks’ life could help them better understand the Black Lives Matter movement and protests.

“How do we begin to look at this amazing, inspiring person, Mrs. Rosa Parks, and the work that she did often in obscurity, and really think about not just where we were, but how far have we come—or not come?” Kinloch asked in the webinar. “It was Rosa Parks who said 'Don’t give up,' and 'Don’t say the movement is dead.'”

According to the Library of Congress, approximately 200 people logged on for the digital event. The full recording of the webinar will be made available on the Library of Congress website.

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Book about Architect of Pitt Buildings is Now Available

Free copies of the book, "The Architecture of Benno Janssen," by retired Pittsburgh Post-Gazette art and architecture critic Donald Miller are being made available to instructors, researchers and organizations. The book, written in 1997, is illustrated with photographs by Edward Massery. There are a limited number of copies available.

Janssen (1874-1964) was the highly-regarded American architect who designed a number of iconic Pitt buildings, including Alumni Hall (the former Masonic Temple), Bellefield Hall, the Pittsburgh Athletic Association, Falk Laboratory School and the newly-purchased Twentieth Century Club. Janssen also was the architect behind the Mellon Institute and the William Penn Hotel.

Post-Gazette reporter Marylynne Pitz, who benefited from Miller’s mentoring, arranged to have thousands of extra copies of the books shipped to Pittsburgh with the assistance of Tom Celli, the architect who designed the addition to Pitt’s Stephen Foster Memorial. Pitz is seeking out interested parties so that the books may have a good home, and is reaching out to libraries, architects associations and the like.

“I’m delighted that 4,000 copies of this book are being rescued and placed in the hands of Western Pennsylvanians so they can appreciate Janssen’s architectural talents,” she said.

Those interested in obtaining a copy of the book may contact Pitz at

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Pitt Researchers Receive $3.2 Million Grant to Uncover the Genes that Build Faces

Pitt researchers Seth Weinberg, associate professor of oral biology and co-director of Pitt’s Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, and John Shaffer, assistant professor of human genetics, recently received a $3.2 million five-year grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research to continue their effort identify the genes that help determine human facial features.

This latest grant will expand upon earlier gene mapping work by focusing on high-throughput strategies designed to identify the specific variants most likely to drive gene expression during early facial development—a key piece of information needed to understand the molecular mechanisms that build human faces.

An additional component of the project will leverage longitudinal data to identify regions of the genome that impact patterns of facial growth during childhood and adolescence. This may provide unique insights into the genetic pathways that contribute to facial dysmorphology.

The project is a collaborative effort involving additional researchers from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Stanford University, Penn State and IUPUI.