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the Cathedral of Learning

Pitt Programs Rise in National Rankings, Physical Therapy Program Remains in Top Spot

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) and School of Nursing recently announced new and improved rankings for several educational programs, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 edition of Best Graduate Schools.

Rankings rose for two SHRS graduate programs—occupational therapy is now ranked number three in the country, moving from its spot at number four. Speech-language pathology had the largest jump from number seven to number three. Physical therapy remains number one for the second consecutive rankings report, as well as the audiology program at number seven. No SHRS program rankings fell and no other comparable programs at other schools ranked higher in Pennsylvania.

Pitt Nursing meanwhile is now number six among Master of Science in Nursing programs, moving up six spots from number 12. The Doctor of Nursing Practice programs is now number eight in the country, moving up from number nine.

Every four years, U.S. News collects data by surveying experts who teach and direct programs in multiple health care professions asking them to evaluate their peers. U.S. News surveys only accredited programs.

Pitt Nursing also moved up two spots in the QS World University Rankings to number 16 in the world, ninth in the U.S. These rankings represent a weighted average of indicators that include peer assessment, student selectivity and achievement, mean grade-point average, acceptance rate, student-faculty ratio, faculty credentials and academic achievements and research activity.

The Cathedral of Learning

Pitt Biostatistics Students Win Distinguished Paper Award

Two doctoral students in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health were recently named winners of the national Eastern North American Region Distinguished Paper Award.

Award winners Peng Liu and (GSPH '16) and Yichen Jia study biostatistics. Each will present their work at the International Biometric Society's Eastern North American Region (ENAR) Spring Meeting in Nashville, from March 22-25. Liu will present “Outcome-Guided Disease Subtyping for High-Dimensional Omics Data,” and Jia will present “Quantile Regression on Cause-specific Inactivity Time.”

As part of their winnings, both receive a certificate, reimbursement for meeting travel expenses up to $650, tuition waiver for one ENAR short course of choice and an invitation to the ENAR president's reception.

Paul Palevsky

Medical Researcher Paul Palevsky Named President-Elect to Foundation Board

Paul M. Palevsky was recently named president-elect of the National Kidney Foundation’s board

Palevsky is a professor of medicine and clinical and translational science in the renal-electrolyte division at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is chief of the renal section at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

He is internationally recognized as an expert in acute kidney injury and critical care nephrology and has helped lead multiple clinical trials focused on the management of acute dialysis, prevention of acute kidney injury and slowing the progression of diabetic kidney disease. He has published more than 250 original articles, reviews and book chapters and has held multiple editorial positions.

Lisa S. Parker and Robert M. Arnold

Bioethics Researchers Elected Fellows to Hastings Center

Lisa S. Parker and Robert M. Arnold were recently elected fellows to The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of research scholars studying ethical questions in medicine, science and technology that help inform policy, practice and public understanding. They are two of 12 newly elected fellows recognized for their outstanding accomplishments informing scholarship and public understanding of complex ethical issues in health, health care, science and technology.

Parker is the Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote Professor of Bioethics at Pitt, where she directs the Center for Bioethics and Health Law. She is also a professor of human genetics in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health.

Arnold is a distinguished service professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and chief of the section of palliative care and medical ethics at Pitt. He also is a member of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law where he coordinates the clinical ethics education programs.

Ryan McGarry

Ryan McGarry (MED ’09) Produces New Netflix Original Series

The new Netflix documentary series “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak” is earning buzz. Fast Company called it “required viewing,” saying it “couldn’t have come at a more crucial time with the recent coronavirus outbreak.”

Ryan McGarry (MD ’09), an emergency medicine doctor, Pitt School of Medicine alumnus and cinematographer, is behind the series as an executive producer. This summer, he invited Pitt Anthropology Chair Bryan Hanks to play a role in setting the stage for the series: The first episode opens at an unmarked grave site near Pittsburgh where an unknown number of bodies are buried—victims of the 1918 pandemic flu. Hanks and a team of Pitt students use ground-penetrating radar to estimate about how many people were buried there. 

McGarry, now a faculty member at Cornell University, said he wanted an excuse to get back to Pittsburgh and feature Pitt experts in this docuseries. Check out the new show on Netflix and learn more about his first big experiment, Code Black, in Pitt Med magazine.

Jamie Hanson

Jamie Hanson Wins American Psychological Foundation Award

Jamie Hanson, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), is the recipient of the 2019 American Psychological Foundation Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award.

The Fantz Award recognizes young researchers in psychology who have accomplished basic scientific research or scholarly writing in perceptual-cognitive development and the development of selective attention, and have investigated and written about the development of individuality, creativity and free-choice of behavior.

Hanson’s research focuses on how children and adolescents learn about their environments, how early life stressors impact their developing brains, and how brain changes can result in negative outcomes. His program consists of working with families, collecting data, connecting with communities and sharing information about brain and behavioral development.

Panther statue

Pitt Collaboratory Releases Paper on Water Issues

The Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, and Outreach has released a white paper outlining key challenges to water quality research, monitoring and improvement in the region. The collaboratory, founded by faculty out of the Department of Geology and Environmental Science in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, recommended coordinated regional efforts to test waterways for a broader range of pollutants and increased public awareness surrounding water quality issues. The paper, “Water Quality in Southwestern Pennsylvania: Knowledge Gaps and Approaches,” is the second of three examining knowledge gaps surrounding water issues within the region. 

Peter Strick

Peter Strick Honored for Brain Research

Peter Strick, founding scientific director of the University of Pittsburgh's Brain Institute, was selected for a 2019 Krieg Cortical Kudos Discoverer Award in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the cortical circuits involved in motor control.

He was presented the award by the Society for Neuroscience at the Cajal Club in Chicago. Each year, neuroscientists at senior, intermediate and beginning stages in their careers are honored by the society for outstanding research on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex. 

Strick’s research focuses on four major areas: the generation and control of voluntary movement by the motor areas of the cerebral cortex; the motor and cognitive functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that comprise the central nervous system.

John V. Williams

Pediatrics Researcher John V. Williams to be Presented Award for Scientific Contributions

John V. Williams was recently announced as the recipient of the 2020 Norman J. Siegel Outstanding Science Award by the American Pediatric Society for “his considerable contributions to pediatric science.”

Williams is the division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology; professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; and director of the Institute for Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity in Children (i4Kids). 

Williams is an international leader in the field of respiratory virus biology, particularly human metapneumovirus (HMPV), and a recognized researcher and contributor to leading scientific journals. He will be presented the award on May 3 during the APS Presidential Plenary at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2020 meeting in Philadelphia. 

Read more about Williams and the American Pediatric Society's honor.

Janice Pringle

Janice Pringle to Receive Excellence in Patient Care Award

Janice Pringle, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Program Evaluation and Research Unit, will receive the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation’s Excellence in Patient Care Award.

Pringle will be recognized for her work, which has helped to make a difference in Blair County, Pennsylvania. Pringle’s research helped combat opioid abuse and improved individual and population health outcomes in the county.

Pringle is also a professor of pharmacy and therapeutics in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy. Her research has helped develop health care policy research and briefs that have been used to inform policy development at both the state and federal levels.

PERU Group Wins ‘Best Professional Abstract’ at Expo

An abstract co-created by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) won the “Best Professional Abstract” award at the American Public Health Association annual meeting and expo.

The abstract, “Pharmacy Student’s Knowledge and Perceived Competency in Conducting SBIRT for Substance Use Disorders,” was written in collaboration with Heather Santa, senior research specialist at Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, and project partners at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The abstract presented results from a training grant with the University of the Sciences with over 314 student pharmacists trained to proficiency.

The abstract was the highest scoring entry out of 74 abstracts submitted.

Bernard Costello

Pitt School of Dentistry First to Create Opioid Guidelines

The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine is the first dental school in the nation to establish opioid-free pain management guidelines for the vast majority of procedures performed in all of its clinics. The guidelines advocate that clinicians prescribe non-opioid pain-relievers first whenever possible.

The Appalachian corridor, which includes Western Pennsylvania, is a hot zone for opioid addiction. With deaths occurring every day from opioid abuse, and costs of rehabilitation care approaching $90,000 per hospitalization, deliberate strategies to minimize dental pain after treatment and eliminate the need for opioid pain relievers are now available to combat this public health crisis in the Appalachian region. 

“Pitt Dental Medicine is leading the way with the adoption of this new protocol by teaching our students and residents the best way to manage pain effectively without the unnecessary risk of opioid dependence,” said Bernard J. Costello dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “When these trainees move on to other practices, they’ll take these opioid-free guidelines with them.

John Williams

New Institute Will Improve Pediatric Health and Research

The Institute of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity in Children—i4Kids for short—is a new strategic research effort focused on improving pediatric health by combating infectious and inflammatory diseases through accelerating new multi-disciplinary collaborations across the health sciences, natural and physical sciences, and computer science. 

The institute is being led by John Williams, Henry L. Hillman Endowed Chair in Pediatric Immunology, professor of pediatrics at Pitt and the institute’s director

Infection is the leading cause of death in children under 5-years-old worldwide, and infectious and inflammatory diseases are the leading causes of child hospitalization in the US. i4Kids aims to become the epicenter of research, discovery, prevention and treatment of these diseases in children as the foundation of improving the health of future generations. 

The institute will host a launch symposium on Feb. 11, 2020, from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Rangos Research Auditorium at Children’s Hospital. The institute is working with the Children’s Hospital Foundation to invite leaders of foundations and philanthropists across the nation.

For more information on i4Kids, visit their website

John Jakicic

Healthy Lifestyle Institute Hosts Second Annual Summit, Announces ‘Schools on the Move’ Initiative

The Healthy Lifestyle Institute (HLI) hosted its second annual summit on Friday, Dec. 6 on the Pittsburgh campus. The summit consisted of presentations and updates from researchers across campus on their work to transform lifestyle research into health and wellbeing for people in all stages of life.

Housed within the School of Education, HLI was founded in 2017 with a mission “to develop, translate and implement health and wellness programs” for the Pitt community and around the Pittsburgh region.

At the summit, HLI’s founding director John Jakicic (EDUC ’95G), introduced HLI’s Schools on the Move initiative, which will provide grants to support innovative physical activity programming at 43 K-12 schools in the Pittsburgh area.

“We’re asking teachers to get creative. We’re not just providing schools with basketballs and nets,” said Jakicic, who also serves as chair of the Department of Health, Physical Activity, and Exercise in the School of Education. “We’re really interested in seeing how these projects unfold.”

Brenda Cassidy, Jennifer Lingler and Patricia Tuite

Pitt Nursing Faculty Stand Out in Statewide Awards

Three University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing faculty members were recognized in November at the 30th annual gala and celebration of the Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania. Each faculty member who was nominated for her category received the award. 

Brenda Cassidy (NURS ’86G, ’97G, ’11G), assistant professor, won the Doctorate of Nursing Practice award; Jennifer Lingler (NURS ’98G, ’04G; A&S ’03G), professor, won the Nursing Research award; and Patricia Tuite (NURS ’85, ’92G), assistant professor, won the Nursing Education-Academia award.

The Nightingale Awards are a statewide program designed to recognize excellence in nursing. Over the past 30 years, more than 100 nursing professionals who best exemplify compassionate care, clinical expertise, education and leadership have been celebrated at the awards ceremony.

Grace Campbell

Grace Campbell Selected for Inaugural National Recognition

Nurse researcher and faculty member Grace Campbell (SOC WK ’85G, NURS ’94,’13G) is among an elite group of nurses included in the inaugural cohort of fellows of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN). 

Campbell is one of fewer than 20 nurses from across the United States who were selected for this inaugural cohort of fellows. Nurses were selected based on their leadership in rehabilitation nursing, as well as contributions, service and commitment to the specialty and the ARN. 

Campbell’s research focuses on the impact of chronic disorders on physical function and developing behavioral interventions to improve physical function. She is specifically interested in fall risk and fall prevention in individuals who are chronically ill, including those who are stroke and cancer patients. 

Inmaculada Hernandez

Inmaculada Hernandez Earns Emerging Leader Award

Inmaculada Hernandez, assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, was recently presented the 2019 Seema S. Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award by the American Journal of Managed Care.

This award recognizes an individual whose early achievements in managed care demonstrate the potential for making an exceptional long-term contribution as a leader in the field. 

With over 40 published peer-reviewed manuscripts, Hernandez has contributed to 25 as a first author and eight as a senior author. These articles have been published in various medical journals and their findings have been featured on NPR, Forbes, ABC, CNBC, BBC, Fox News and Bloomberg. Hernandez was also recently included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list as a young leader in health care research.

Catherine Palmer

Study on Hearing Loss and Social Participation Receives Award

Catherine Palmer, associate professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at Pitt, has been approved for a $2.23 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study hearing aids’ role in participation in senior communities.

Through this three-year award, Palmer and her team in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) will find out if people are more satisfied with their social participation when more hearing support is available, and if people with hearing loss find their quality of life improves when they have access to hearing help more frequently.

Palmer’s study was selected for PCORI funding through a highly competitive review process in which patients, clinicians and other stakeholders joined clinical scientists to evaluate the proposals. Applications were assessed for scientific merit, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders and their methodological rigor among other criteria.

Palmer is also director of the SHRS Audiology Program, director of the Center for Audiology and Hearing Aids at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the current president of the American Academy of Audiology. Other Pitt researchers who will work with Palmer in this study include audiology associate professor Elaine Mormer, occupational therapy associate professor Natalie Leland and physical therapy professor Charity Patterson.

Peter Strick

Peter Strick Honored for Brain Research

Peter Strick, founding scientific director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, was selected for a 2019 Krieg Cortical Kudos Discoverer Award in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the cortical circuits involved in motor control.

He was presented the award by the Society for Neuroscience at the Cajal Club in Chicago. Each year, neuroscientists at senior, intermediate and beginning stages in their careers are honored by the society for outstanding research on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex.

Strick's research focuses on four major areas: the generation and control of voluntary movement by the motor areas of the cerebral cortex; the motor and cognitive functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that comprise the central nervous system.

The Cathedral of Learning

Pitt, UPMC to Lead New National Research and Training Center on Family Support

The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have been selected to create the National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support

Through a $4.3 million grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the center will serve as a national hub that leverages state-of-the-art research to improve the care, health and quality of life of all persons with disabilities and the families who support them.

The center, which builds upon 30-plus years of Pitt’s efforts in support of caregiving, is directed by Heidi Donovan, professor in the School of Nursing’s Department of Health and Community Systems; Scott Beach, interim director and director of survey research of the University Center for Social and Urban Research; and Bambang Parmanto, professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Health Information Management in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

“The need nationwide for this center is huge. Despite the important role that caregivers provide to our health system, there are still gaps in knowledge in the field of family caregiving,” said Gabriela Prudencio, Hunt Research Director at the National Alliance for Caregiving. “Pitt and UPMC bring over 30 years of extensive research experience in this field and have been leveraging key relationships to translate research into programs and policies.”