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October 9, 2018
Humanity in Action Fellowship Awardees Work Toward Social Justice at Home and Abroad
A Pitt student and alumna explored today’s most challenging global humanitarian issues in Europe this summer as 2018 Humanity in Action Fellows.
The fellowship highlights models of action in social justice and examines the social and political roots of discrimination on a global scale. While abroad, fellows explore contemporary issues through the historical foundations of World War II and the holocaust.
Aditya Mittal (left) looked at xenophobia, racism and minority issues in Berlin. He’s a junior neuroscience major with a minor in chemistry. In addition to lab research, he’s also working to build awareness about lead poising in Pittsburgh communities. He plans to go to medical school before advancing a career in public health and policy.
Daria Sullivan (A&S ’17) explored human rights in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is a 2017 graduate with a BA in theatre arts and communication, and has used her platform as an artist and performer to share about social justice issues. At Pitt, her work prompted discussions about issues like racial bias, and she hopes to inspire social change by continuing to portray thoughtful stories.
October 4, 2018
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.
October 3, 2018
NSF Awards Pitt Engineers $200,000 to Study the Impact of Reflection on Learning
Assistant professors Samuel Dickerson and Renee Clark have received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to help students in the Swanson School of Engineering start to think about thinking. The two-year, $200,000 award will support a project to improve learning and development by promoting the frequent use of reflection and “metacognition” among students in a Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering class on microelectronic circuits.
“Engineering is different from other disciplines because this type of thought process isn’t inherent in our training,” Dickerson said. “Reflection and metacognition are not skills that are regularly cultivated or practiced in the engineering curriculum — in the classroom we are more focused on immediate problem-solving rather than pausing and looking at the big picture, which is more common in the engineering workplace.”
According to Clark, it is easier for a student in a classroom environment to ask a professor or teaching assistant to help them solve a problem. Outside of college however, there may be fewer resources on which to rely. Dickerson and Clark want to encourage engineering students to develop lifelong learning skills that will help them independently learn how to find a solution and ultimately give them an advantage when they join the workforce. Read more about the project.
October 3, 2018
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.
October 1, 2018
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.
September 26, 2018
School of Pharmacy’s Janice L. Pringle Earns Grant for New Program
Janice L. Pringle, professor in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, recently received a grant to develop “Online Learning Communities: Mobile Application for Physicians and First Responders from the PA Department of Health” with primary sponsor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Program Evaluation and Research Unit will create a curriculum for a program to be used by the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to train First Responder Champions in regions across Pennsylvania to support the use of the OpiRescue application, including rescue breathing and naloxone resources embedded within the application by their peers within each of the champions’ regions.
The curriculum will also address barriers observed by first responders in naloxone access and utilization.
September 26, 2018
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 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.
September 26, 2018
Potential IBD Treatment Moves Toward Clinical Testing
An anti-inflammatory compound developed by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers and licensed by biotech startup Koutif Therapeutics has completed investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and reached clinical candidate status for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
The compound, KT-1002, also shows promise in treating other inflammatory conditions including bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury and rheumatoid arthritis.
Koutif has licensed several compounds including KT-1002 from the University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The intellectual property derived from research funded by multiple VA awards and National Institutes of Health grants.
Rama K. Mallampalli, professor and chief of the medical school’s Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division and staff physician at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System developed KT-1002 with associate professor Beibei Chen, director of the division’s Center for Small Molecule Therapeutics and co-director of its Acute Lung Injury Center of Excellence. The two hold equity in Koutif Therapeutics and are paid consultants to the company.
Koutif is a start-up launched by BioMotiv, the mission-driven accelerator associated with the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $340 million national initiative for advancing medicine centered at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
“We are very encouraged by the results of the lead compound both in IND-enabling studies as well as in disease models,” said Baiju R. Shah, BioMotiv CEO and chairman of Koutif Therapeutics. “Based on the data, we plan to file an IND application by the end of the year.”
September 19, 2018
Physical Therapy Alumni Inducted to American Physical Therapy Association Fellowship
Three Department of Physical Therapy alumni — Kim Nixon-Cave (SHRS ’81), Mary Lou Galantino (SHRS ’82) and Greg Hicks (SHRS ’02G) — were inducted into the American Physical Therapy Association’s 2018 Catherine Worthingham Fellows class, the highest membership class of the organization.
Of the more than 100,000 members of the association, these three alumni were among just 15 recognized as fellows at the association’s NEXT 2018 meeting, held in June in Orlando.
September 19, 2018
University Japan Council to Recognize Japanese Documentary Filmmaker
The University of Pittsburgh’s Japan Council has chosen filmmaker Kazuo Hara as the recipient of the council’s first biennial Japan Documentary Film Award for his latest directed film “Sennan Asbestos Disaster.” The documentary follows a group of former asbestos workers as they seek justice and recognition from an indifferent Japanese government. Prior to a Sept. 27 screening of his film, Hara will be recognized at an award ceremony earlier that evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Tickets to the screening are free but require an RSVP. The event is held in conjunction with the 2018 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival.
September 18, 2018
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.
September 17, 2018
Elaine Vitone Wins Inaugural Award From National Association of Science Writers
The National Association of Science Writers announced that Elaine Vitone (A&S ’06G) will receive the organization’s first-ever Excellence in Institutional Writing Award. Vitone is senior editor at Pitt Med, the magazine of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published in collaboration with the Office of University Communications. NASW established the award to recognize high-caliber, publicly accessible science writing produced on behalf of an institution or other non-media organization.
Vitone’s feature about Pitt psychiatrist Lisa Pan’s work to fight intractable depression earned her the win. Of the story, the judges said: “Her compelling narrative follows both an early patient, depicted authentically with details from reports, and an MD leading much of the research. The writing is colorful, compassionate and well-grounded in the science.”
Vitone will receive a cash prize to be awarded at a reception on Oct. 13 in Washington, D.C.
In addition to her work at the magazine, Vitone is a writer and producer of Pitt Medcast, which has been featured on National Science Foundation’s Science360 Radio and several NPR member stations.
September 13, 2018
Emily Elliott Receives 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring
Emily Elliott, an associate professor in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School’s Department of Geology and Environmental Science, is the recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s 2018 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The award was presented by AGU’s Biogeosciences Section.
The Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring is given annually to one mid-career female scientist for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.
Elliott, who also serves as the director of the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and the director of the Regional Stable Isotope Laboratory for Earth and Environmental Science Research, joined the Dietrich School in 2007 as an assistant professor.
September 12, 2018
Valerie Kinloch Receives NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award
Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, received the 2018 Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). This award recognizes a person of color who has made a significant contribution to NCTE and to the development of their professional community. It is bestowed only when the selection committee decides a nomination warrants presentation of the award.
Kinloch, who joined Pitt in 2017, has published many books and articles about race, place, literacy and equity, as well as the literacies and community engagements of youth and adults inside and outside schools. Among other awards, Kinloch is also a recipient of the 2018 NCTE Rewey Belle Inglis Award for Outstanding Women in English Education.
September 11, 2018
Aman Mahajan Appointed Chair of Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine
Aman Mahajan was recently appointed chair of Pitt’s Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, part of the School of Medicine.
Mahajan joins the University from UCLA, where he was chairperson of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and director of Perioperative Services at UCLA Health. His research focuses on spinal neural modulation of cardiac electrophysiology and the assessment of cardiac function in heart failure.
He is also a member of professional associations and national scientific societies in his fields of clinical and research interests, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Heart Association, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, the Association of University Anesthesiologists and the American Physiological Society.
September 9, 2018
Pitt–Bradford Recognized as College of Distinction
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford has been named a College of Distinction for the fourth time by the Colleges of Distinction website and e-guidebook. Pitt–Bradford received further program-specific recognition in education, nursing and business.
Colleges of Distinction highlighted Pitt–Bradford’s real-world learning opportunities, such as monitoring stream health in the Allegheny National Forest. Groundbreaking facilities, including the Crime Scene Investigation House, were also cited, as were opportunities that offer students leadership experience through campus activities.
In program-specific recognitions, Colleges of Distinction recognized Pitt–Bradford’s education program for its use of an enriching liberal arts perspective, as well as its nursing programs for hands-on learning opportunities. Pitt–Bradford was also recognized for cultural activities including author events, student and faculty theater productions and career-networking opportunities.
Following nominations from high school counselors and educators, Colleges of Distinction evaluates schools based on engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges must demonstrate results in four key areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes.
September 5, 2018
Chemistry’s Kabirul Islam Awarded $650,000 from NSF to Study Cell Lineage
Kabirul Islam, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Chemistry, recently won a three-year $650,000 grant from the Molecular and Cellular Biosciences area of the National Science Foundation to develop answer a central question in mammalian biology: how is it that identical DNA in an organism can create diverse cell lineages?
The grant funds an integrated chemical biology research and educational program, which will reprogram expression of genes that underlie cell division, differentiation, lineage and ultimately, organismal development.
“The interdisciplinary research setting that brings together organic synthesis, protein engineering and cell biology, will provide a unique training ground for graduate and undergraduate students,” Islam said.
September 5, 2018
Law Alumnus Appointed Staff Judge Advocate to Commandant of Marine Corps
The Department of Defense has announced that Marine Corps Col. Daniel J. Lecce (LAW ’87), has been promoted to major general. He will be the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the senior legal adviser in the Marine Corps. Among Lecce’s personal awards are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Lecce will join fellow Pitt alum Brigadier General John G. Baker (LAW ’97) as the only active duty Marine Judge Advocate general officers.
September 4, 2018
Med Students Receive Innovative Programming Award at Family Physicians Conference
The Family Medicine Interest Group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine received the 2018 Award of Excellence for Innovative Programming at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference in Kansas City in early August.
Elise Pearson (left) and Sarah Minney (right), both members of the Pitt School of Medicine’s Class of 2020, accepted the award on behalf of the group, which promotes advocacy, service and education regarding current issues in family medicine. Both are coordinators for the group.
The group’s initiatives, which helped earn them the award, included connecting with local organizations to offer blood pressure and blood sugar screenings at health fairs, holding a fundraiser and day of service benefiting a local food pantry, hosting a family medicine mixer event for students to meet family medicine physicians in an informal setting, and participating in the creation of a five-session mini-elective for students called “Transitions: Primary Care’s Role in Addiction Medicine.”
August 31, 2018
Diane Litman Awarded Research Grant from Institute of Education Sciences
Diane Litman, director of the Intelligent Systems Program, professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information and senior scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been awarded a research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to study undergraduate STEM education.
With colleagues Muhsin Menekse and Ala Samarapungavan of Purdue University, Litman will pursue research titled “Enhancing Undergraduate STEM Education by Integrating Mobile Learning Technologies with Natural Language Processing.” In this project, the researchers will use the mobile application CourseMIRROR in large science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lectures to monitor student engagement and the effect of feedback on learning. Developed by researchers at LRDC, CourseMIRROR is a mobile application that prompts students to reflect on their learning in the classroom. It also provides immediate and continuous feedback to instructors about the difficulties that their students encounter, providing insight to instructors on what was and was not learned.
This grant is under the program Postsecondary and Adult Education, which strives to support research for the betterment of student education at both the college level and in adult education programs.