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September 11, 2014

People of the Times

EveretteHealth Policy Institute (HPI) director A. Everette James has been appointed to the M. Allen Pond Chair in Health Policy and Management at the Graduate School of Public Health.

The Pond chair, which was made possible through gifts from an anonymous donor and UPMC, recognizes significant contributions to the advancement of public health policy.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said: “This appointment recognizes the quality and impact of Professor James’s work to date, which has earned deep and widespread respect in both the academic and policymaking communities. It also is an expression of our confidence that in the years ahead, under Everette’s leadership, our Health Policy Institute will continue to be a positive force in the improvement of human health through evidence-based public policy.”

As HPI director, James oversees a far-reaching program that produces health services and policy research and educational programs for government, business and the foundation community. HPI is the only academic health policy institute in the U.S. that combines expertise across all of the health sciences — medicine, public health, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry and the rehabilitation sciences — to answer the key questions facing the U.S. health system. James, who also is associate vice chancellor for health policy and planning in the Schools of the Health Sciences, served as the Pennsylvania secretary of health before joining the University.

HPI supports research in comparative effectiveness; pharmaceutical policy; media and technology; new models of interprofessional health care delivery; Medicaid and emerging health policy issues, such as prescription drug abuse; and the public health impacts of natural gas drilling.

Pond, former dean and faculty member of the Pitt public health school, served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, 1948-68, and was assistant surgeon general of the U.S., 1963-68.


LittleThree members of the Pitt community are being recognized in Pittsburgh’s annual 40 Under 40 list of people who make the region better for everyone.

The Pitt honorees in this year’s 40 Under 40 program, sponsored by Pittsburgh Magazine and the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, are:

Steven Little, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, associate professor and CNG Faculty Fellow, chemical and petroleum engineering, bioengineering, immunology and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Anne Marie Toccket, project coordinator, Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and development director of Awamaki, a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers rural Andean women with skills training, connects them to global market opportunities and enables them to earn an income to transform their communities.

Wankiiri-HaleChristine Wankiiri-Hale, associate dean of student affairs in the School of Dental Medicine.


Health Sciences Library System reference librarian Melissa Ratajeski has been appointed to a one-year term as chair of the Majors/MLA (Medical Library Association) Chapter Project of the Year award. This award recognizes excellence, innovation and contribution to the profession of health sciences librarianship. These attributes must be shown through special projects beyond the normal operational programming of the MLA chapter.


Kent HarriesKent Harries, faculty member in civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, was named a fellow of the International Institute for Fiber Reinforced Polymer in Construction (IIFC). Harries is one of only 27 individuals worldwide to be named an IIFC fellow and only the sixth in the United States. He received the honor last month at the seventh international Conference on Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Composites in Civil Engineering in Vancouver.

The recognition of fellow is a distinct honor for “senior members of the institute who have achieved a position of high responsibility and have contributed significantly to the advancement of the field through research or practice, or both.” IIFC is dedicated to the use of FRP composite materials in civil infrastructure, and its mission is to advance the understanding and application of FRP composites in the civil infrastructure, in the service of the engineering profession and society.

Harries’ research interests include the use of nontraditional materials (FRP, high-performance concrete, reactive powder concrete, bamboo) in civil infrastructure, seismic design and retrofit of building structures, design and behavior of high-rise structures, applications of full-scale structural testing and the history and philosophy of science and technology.


carterLaw Dean William M. Carter Jr. has received the Leadership Diversity Award from the National Diversity Council and the Pennsylvania Diversity Council. Criteria for the award include having an extraordinary background of developing and improving organizations; demonstrating honesty, integrity and fairness; serving as a role model for other individuals in the profession; inspiring a shared vision, and fostering innovation.

Awardees will be recognized at the 2014 Leadership Excellence Awards luncheon, which will be held at Pitt next month.


Nursing faculty members Alice Blazeck and Gretchen Zewe authored a 2013 paper that has been winning acclaim. “Simulating Simulation: Promoting Perfect Practice With Learning Bundle-Supported Videos in an Applied, Learner-Driven Curriculum Design” was published in Clinical Simulation in Nursing and recognized by the International Society of Simulation in Health Care as one of the Top 10 papers of 2014. In addition, the International Nurses Association for Clinical Simulated Learning voted it “Best Paper.”


Three pharmacy faculty members in the Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics have been appointed to positions in the American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP):

Amy Donihi was elected chair-elect of the ACCP Endocrine and Metabolism Practice and Research Network for the 2014-2015 term. She then will serve as chair of the PRN for the 2015-16 term.

The PRNs represent focused interest groups of members. They provide a means for clinical pharmacists with common practice and research interests to gather for professional interaction, networking and continuing education. Activities within individual PRNs may vary depending on the interests and perceived needs of their members. All PRNs conduct educational programs within their interest areas at the ACCP annual meeting and the spring practice and research forum.

Karen Steinmetz Pater was elected as chair-elect for the ACCP Self-Care and Non-Prescription Medicines Special Interest Group.

As chair-elect, she serves as the programming committee chair for next year’s annual meeting. The term is a three-year commitment. During her time in the position, Pater will continue to promote safe self-care practices for patients in the community.

SmithburgerPamela L. Smithburger was elected chair-elect of the ACCP Critical Care PRN for the 2014-15 term. She then will serve as chair of the PRN for the 2015-16 term.

In addition, pharmaceutical sciences faculty member Donna Huryn was appointed associate editor for ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters.

The journal publishes brief communications on experimental or theoretical results of all aspects of medicinal chemistry (pure and applied) and its extension into pharmacology. It also publishes studies that range from compound design to optimization, biological evaluation, drug delivery and pharmacology.


An international leader in the field of epigenetics whose work has led to important discoveries into how cancer develops and progresses has been named the co-leader of the lung cancer program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter. James Herman comes from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Herman will be a visiting professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. His appointment is effective Nov. 1.

In addition to his work as a researcher, Herman is expected to have an appointment at the Veterans Affairs Hospital, where he will work to promote clinical care, education and clinical trials in thoracic malignancies.

He also will co-direct the medical oncology fellowship program to promote training in basic and translational research.

Herman and his team are  known for their development of the methylation-specific PCR assay, which is widely used to characterize DNA methylation patterns. His work has been supported by a variety of sources, including a V Scholar Award, grants from the National Institutes of Health, and most recently a Department of Defense grant, all in the epigenetics of cancer.

Herman earned his medical degree in 1989 at Johns Hopkins, where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha.

After completing a residency in internal medicine at Duke, he returned to Johns Hopkins to undertake a fellowship in medical oncology.

He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1996, and rose through the ranks to become a professor of oncology in 2009.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

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