Jewish Healthcare Foundation funds School of Medicine research on adverse drug reactions

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation will fund a study from Pitt’s School of Medicine that aims to reduce preventable adverse drug events among patients who transition between the hospital and skilled nursing facilities.

Through the Medication Error Avoidance at Region Scale (MEARS) study, a team in Pitt’s Department of Biomedical Informatics will develop a clinical decision support intervention that will help pharmacists assess risks for individual patients and monitor safety at a population level.

The Pitt MEARS study team will also collaborate with the Carnegie Mellon University Initiative for Patient Safety Research to develop and test predictive and analytic models focused on patient safety and medication error avoidance. The study will help clarify the most important data elements for accurately determining risk for patients as they transition between care settings.

Adam Shear wins Renaissance Society of America Digital Innovation Award

Adam Shear, associate professor in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, worked on a project that won a Digital Innovation Award from the Renaissance Society of America (RSA).

Footprints, a database that tracks the circulation of early modern Hebrew and Jewish books, was recognized for its excellence in supporting the study of the Renaissance. The open-source and open-access tool follows texts from their origins in the printing house to the present-day.

Shear, chair of the Department of Religious Studies, co-directed the project with peers from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the second Pitt faculty affiliated with the Early Modern Worlds Initiative to win an RSA prize in as many years — Associate Professor Christopher Nygren earned the 2022 Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Prize for best book in Renaissance studies.

Association for Asian Studies awards book prize to Dietrich School's Ruth Mostern

Ruth Mostern, professor in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, won a book prize from the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for her history of China’s Yellow River.

One Joseph Levenson Prize is awarded each year to an English-language book whose focus is on China before 1900. The AAS recognizes nonfiction books that increase understanding of the history, culture, society, politics or economy of China.

Mostern’s “The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History” describes 3,000 years of how humans have shaped the natural system, and vice versa. The director of Pitt’s World History Center also incorporated her innovative digital history work into “The Yellow River,” which is informed by archival research and geographical information system records.

Mostern will be honored at the AAS 2023 Awards Ceremony on March 18.

Amit Sethi receives NIH grant to study improving hand function in stroke survivors

Amit Sethi, associate professor in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21 grant for a project aimed at improving hand function in stroke survivors.

The $425,000 award from NIH will fund work within Pitt’s Neuromotor Recovery and Rehabilitation Laboratory, of which Sethi is principal investigator.

More than two-thirds of stroke survivors in the United States have residual paralysis of the upper limb, and few treatment options are appropriate or effective. Sethi’s project will test whether noninvasive brain, nerve and hand stimulation can improve hand movement after moderate-to-severe stroke.

School of Nursing's Lingler earns $2.1 million to study patient reactions to Alzheimer’s diagnoses

Jennifer Lingler, vice chair for research in Pitt's School of Nursing, will lead a study to advance understanding of real-world patient and family member reactions to biomarker-informed Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses. The research, which earned a $2.1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, will inform best practices to monitor and support those most in need.

The study — co-led by Joshua Grill of the University of California, Irvine — seeks to better understand the psychological and social impact of using Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in clinical practice. Researchers will remotely interview a diverse, real-world representative population of 500 patients with memory impairment and one of their family members.

Lingler leads the School of Nursing’s Aging and Gerontological Research HUB as well as the Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core at Pitt’s Alzheimer Disease Research Center.

Pharmacy school's Amy Seybert elected president of ACPE board of directors

Amy Seybert, dean of Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, was elected as 2023 president of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) board of directors.

The professor of pharmacy and therapeutics has served on the board of the ACPE, which is recognized as the national agency for accreditation in pharmacy education, for the past five years. Seybert was elected to the board by the American Pharmacists Association.

Seybert, who also oversees clinical pharmacy faculty services as pharmacy residency administrator at UPMC, has more than 19 years of accreditation survey experience.

Along with accrediting pharmacy degree and continuing education programs in the United States, the ACPE offers certification to international degree programs and pharmacy technician education and training programs.

Three Pitt leaders named to Pittsburgh Business Times Power 100 list

Pitt was well-represented in the 2023 Power 100 list, a ranking of influential business leaders from the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher is on the list for the putting Pitt on a path of “growth, expansion and momentum.” The publication cited the University’s growth in research and grant funding, an increase in gifts and new facilities as some of his accomplishments in the role.

Evan Facher, Pitt’s vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and associate dean for commercial translation, is recognized for helping faculty and students reach the commercial and societal potential of their discoveries. Don Yealy, chair of Pitt’s Department of Emergency Medicine, made the list for managing 40 hospitals as chief medical officer at UPMC.

View the full Power 100 list, which also include 18 Pitt alumni.

Pitt podcast nominated for Ambie award

A history podcast out of Pitt’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REEES) was nominated for Best DIY Podcast at the Awards for Excellence in Audio, or the Ambies.

REEES Digital Scholarship Curator Sean Guillory wrote, edited and produced the six-part series “Teddy Goes to the USSR.” The audio documentary, which is Guillory’s first venture into the genre, examines everyday life in the Soviet Union in 1968 through the eyes of an American who spent three months in the country. The podcast was supported with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Guillory also produces “SRB Podcast,” which features interviews on Eurasian politics, history, and culture with writers, filmmakers and policy figures from around the world. The show boasts more than 1.7 million downloads.

The 2023 Ambies award ceremony is March 7; it will be streamed live from Las Vegas on the Amazon Music Channel on Twitch.

Pamela Thompson

Bradford names new assistant dean of academic success

Pitt–Bradford has hired Pamela Thompson as its new assistant dean of academic success and advising, who will lead the effort to ensure students have the academic support they need.

Thompson comes to Pitt–Bradford with 30 years of professional experience, including 17 years at Alabama A&M University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degree in psychology-personnel administration. Additionally, she holds a doctorate in urban higher education from Jackson (Miss.) State University.           

In her new role, Thompson manages Pitt–Bradford’s Academic Advising Center, Academic Coaching and Tutoring Center, and TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded grant program designed to increase the chance of educational success in college for students from historically underrepresented groups. Additionally, she works closely with the writing and math centers. She will report directly to the university’s vice president and dean of academic affairs.

Liron Pantanowitz appointed to chair Department of Pathology

Liron Pantanowitz will return to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as chair of the Department of Pathology, effective May 1.

In his new roles at the School of Medicine and UPMC, Pantanowitz will leverage his expertise in genomic, molecular, computational and digital pathology to advance personalized medicine and facilitate future collaborations with industry. Pitt recruited Pantanowitz as an associate professor of pathology in 2010, and he was promoted to full professorship in 2015 before joining the University of Michigan School of Medicine in 2020.

Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in digital pathology and informatics, Pantanowitz received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Pathology Informatics in 2019 and is currently president of the Digital Pathology Association. His research interests include novel diagnostic entities, cytology lab innovation and contemporary ancillary testing to support personalized medicine.

Pantanowitz succeeds George Michalopoulos, who is stepping down after 31 years in the chair role. Michalopoulos will stay on at Pitt to continue his research and teaching activities.

Juan Carlos Puyana selected as O’Brien Professor of Global Surgery

Juan Carlos Puyana has been selected as the O’Brien Professor of Global Surgery for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). He will begin his tenure at the Irish university in April.

Along with the professorship’s efforts to increase access to safe and effective surgical care worldwide, Puyana will lead the RCSI Institute of Global Surgery, a core component of RCSI’s newly created School of Population Health headed by Pitt alumnus Edward Gregg (SPH ’96G).

The professor of surgery, critical care medicine and clinical translational science will continue his teaching and mentoring students in Pitt’s School of Medicine and continue as the Department of Surgery’s director for global health. He will also serve as an international global health liaison to the school’s Office of the Dean.

Puyana, who arrived at Pitt in 2001, is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has received two Pitt Innovator Awards. He co-authored the most recent National Academy of Sciences report on global health as a member of its Board on Global Health and is a co-principal investigator of BLOODSAFE, a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute program aimed at improving the safety and availability of blood transfusions in Kenya.

Stephen Chan inducted to Association of University Cardiologists

Stephen Chan, a professor in Pitt’s School of Medicine, was elected for induction into the Association of University Cardiologists (AUC).

Members of the AUC represent the top investigators in American cardiology. Active membership is limited to 135 academics, who are elected to join the association by their peers.

Chan is the Vitalant Chair in Vascular Medicine and directs Pitt’s Vascular Medicine Institute, where he leads an interdisciplinary team of scientists in basic and translational vascular biology research. As director of the Center for Pulmonary Vascular Biology and Medicine, he also treats patients and conducts research on the molecular mechanisms of pulmonary vascular disease and pulmonary hypertension.

The AUC will introduce Chan as a new member at its annual meeting in February, and the Pitt professor will give a talk as part of the organization’s commitment to education and scientific interchange.

Christine McClure named a Multiplying Good Pittsburgh ChangeMaker

Christine McClure, senior research scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management, is part of the spring 2023 cohort of Multiplying Good Pittsburgh ChangeMakers.

The honor is given to community leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to service and a desire to act as role models. McClure, who also received a Doctorate in Education and Master of Public Policy Management from Pitt, will raise awareness and $2,500 for Students In Action (SIA). SIA is a free youth development program that uses service-learning to prepare students for their futures.

With the completion of her service project for SIA, McClure will receive a Jefferson Award for Public Service, the nation’s highest honor for service and volunteerism.

4 faculty members win grants from Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

Two Pitt teams were each awarded $300,000 grants from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation.

The four researchers are among 15 people from eight different Pennsylvania institutions to receive a total of $2 million in New Initiatives grants, which support innovative, interdisciplinary scientific research that requires expertise beyond that of any single researcher and take a novel approach to their work.

One project is led by Judith Yanowitz, associate professor of integrative systems biology in the School of Medicine, and Andrea Berman, an associate professor of biology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Their research seeks to identify the key molecules worms and humans use to determine what proteins are made in specific cells, and then dissect how these proteins exert control at the molecular level. They hope to reveal novel information about the evolution of this mechanism over hundreds of millions of years and identify new treatment directions for parasitic infections and diseases impacting humans, pets and livestock.

Michael Hatridge and Alex Jones represent an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Dietrich School and the Swanson School of Engineering respectively, with Jones as the primary investigator. Their proposal regarding quantum computing aims to combine physics and computer science expertise to collaboratively design the physical entanglement of qubits, such as quantum gates, while considering their computational capability and fidelity.

The Kaufman funding was established in 2005 through a bequest from Charles E. Kaufman, who had a long career as a chemical engineer and later as an entrepreneur and investor. Upon his death in 2010, he left $43 million to the foundation, of which $33 million was endowed to support fundamental scientific research in chemistry, biology and physics at Pennsylvania institutions.

Chandralekha Singh wins Indian Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumna Award

Chandralekha Singh, distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded a Distinguished Alumna Award by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

Singh, who also directs Pitt’s Discipline-based Science Education Research Center, obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in physics from the Kharagpur branch. Founded in 1951, IIT Kharagpur is the oldest technology institute in India.

Thanking her alma mater for the honor, Singh said, “IIT Kharagpur has played a central role in my personal and professional growth.”

Lucas Berenbrok wins Albert B. Prescott Pharmacy Leadership Award

The Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute named Lucas A. Berenbrok, associate professor in Pitt’s School of Pharmacy, the 2023 recipient of the Albert B. Prescott Pharmacy Leadership Award.

The award recognizes a pharmacist fewer than 10 years past graduation for demonstrating exemplary leadership qualities indicative of someone likely to emerge as a major leader in pharmacy. Berenbrok, who received his master’s degree and Doctor of Pharmacy from Pitt, was recognized for his leadership in developing over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid education for pharmacists and his innovative research of the accessibility of community pharmacists.

Berenbrok was also honored for establishing a Comprehensive Medication Management Benefit that offers medication management, travel health, tobacco cessation, diabetes prevention and health education to nearly 14,000 employees of the University. He co-led the creation of an outpatient pharmacogenomics service at UPMC and is nationally recognized as an expert in the field, which studies how genetics affect drug response.

In conjunction with accepting the award, each recipient delivers a scholarly lecture on issues such as pharmacy as a profession, leadership or future trends in pharmacy practice or education. Berenbrok will receive his award and deliver his address during the APhA Annual Meeting in Phoenix in March.

Pitt professor and students collaborate on published linguistics book

Language Science Press has published a book that resulted from a collaboration between Shelome Gooden, professor in the Department of Linguistics, and a group of Pitt students.

Gooden, who is also the assistant vice chancellor for research in the humanities, arts, social sciences and related fields, edited “Social and Structural Aspects of Language Contact and Change” alongside Bettina Migge, professor of linguistics at University College Dublin.

Gooden mentored students and included their work in the book, which covers a range of languages and dialects through a variety of disciplinary and empirical perspectives.

Among other topics, the book collects a series of papers examining various languages and dialects and the cultures that surround them, including Spanish Creole and African American English. Some papers used historical documents to illuminate the origins and interactions between these languages and dialects.

The book is available now.

Susan Baida named first executive director of the Collaboratory Against Hate

Susan Baida has been named the inaugural executive director of the Collaboratory Against Hate, a research and action partnership between Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University. 

“The timing could not be more critical to focus on mitigating hate and its violent consequences. According to FBI data, hate crimes in the U.S. have risen 32% cumulatively from 2016 to 2020. Between Pitt and CMU, the Collaboratory Against Hate is at the forefront of technology, policy and education expertise — the focal points of our work,” said Baida.

In her new role, she will facilitate partnerships with technology companies, foundations, government and nonprofits to research how hate radicalizes through social platforms and design intervention tools.

“Integral to this, we also want to engage the victims of hate violence, their families, marginalized communities and advocacy groups to help inform the work,” Baida said.

Before her appointment to the collaboratory, she served as UPMC’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion and co-founded a technology venture, eCareDiary. Throughout her more than 30-year career, Baida held executive roles with Fortune 500 companies, including Avon, the Estée Lauder Companies and Starwood Hotels.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Emory University and completed executive leadership training and certifications in Diversity Leadership and Strategic Human Resources Business Partnership at Vassar College.

Thuy D. Bui receives 2022 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Award

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Professor Thuy D. Bui was awarded the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s 2022 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award for decades of work that has improved the lives of underserved populations, refugees and immigrants across two continents.

The award honors a woman who exemplifies humanism and through scholarship, advocacy, leadership or work has advanced the well-being of underserved or vulnerable populations in health care.

Bui has been director of the Global Health and Underserved Populations Residency Track at the School of Medicine and UPMC for more than 15 years. She is also an affiliated faculty member of the School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity and Pitt’s Center for African Studies.

She joined the Pitt faculty in 1999. She served as medical director of Pitt’s Program for Health Care to Underserved Populations from 1999 to 2015, and, until 2017, headed the Birmingham Free Clinic, which serves the uninsured, underinsured, immigrants and other marginalized groups. She still sees patients there weekly.

Bui has won several awards for her teaching, mentoring and commitment to social justice, including the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. She is a member of the American College of Physicians, Society of General Internal Medicine, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved and the School of Medicine’s Academy of Master Educators.

Ann Thompson, vice dean of the School of Medicine, relayed one student’s description of Bui in her nomination for the award: “She has embodied for me the concept of fostering belonging. She has an open-door policy and is truly brilliant in being able to see structural problems and find innovative, effective ways to address them … she guides young faculty and residents to be able to grow in our humanitarian mission. She is truly a shining star.”

Kyaien Conner named director of Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems

Kyaien Conner was a student in the School of Social Work when the Center for Race and Social Problems (CRSP) launched at Pitt in 2002. On July 1, 2023, she’ll return to CRSP as its new director. 

In this role, she will oversee the center as it continues to conduct social science research on race, ethnicity and the various ways they impact Americans.

As Conner finishes up her time as an associate professor of mental health law and policy at the University of South Florida (USF), she looks forward to advancing social justice and health and racial equity with like-minded groups of researchers and teams across the University.

“I see many opportunities and possibilities available at CRSP at a time right now when research on these issues is desperately needed,” Conner said.  “I’m excited to return to my alma mater and collaborate with scholars and researchers across campus to make the center a robust platform for doing important work that moves our field forward and each of those areas.”

Conner, whose work specializes in racial trauma and minority health disparities, has earned $2 million in funding for her research.

She is also a licensed social worker with more than a decade of experience as a community-based mental health practitioner in predominantly low-income African American communities. Conner was also vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for the state of Florida from 2018 through 2021.

Conner earned her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Africana studies, her master’s degrees in social work and public health and her doctorate in social work from Pitt. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Among other awards, Conner was a USF Outstanding Black Faculty Member of the Year in 2020 and won the school’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2016.