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December 7, 1995


Patients with eye infections may not need surgery or intravenous antibiotics Vitrectomy, a surgical procedure to replace the gel-like filling inside the eye, does not need to be performed on approximately three-fourths of patients who develop an infection that can occur after eye surgery, according to a national study led and coordinated by Pitt researchers.

The study also found that antibiotics given for several days intravenously to treat the same infection provided no additional benefit over antibiotics given once directly at the site of the infection.

Although the infection, endophthalmitis, causes inflammation of the interior of the eye in only 0.4 percent of the 1.35 million people who have cataract surgery each year, the condition is considered serious because it may lead to blindness.

The findings, from the Endophthalmitis Vitrectomy Study, were announced by the funding agency, the National Eye Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

The results should mean fewer surgeries and shorter or no hospital stays for as many as 5,400 people each year, and a potential savings of $40 million annually in health care costs, according to study director Bernard H. Doft, of Pitt's medical school, and Sheryl Kelsey, of the Graduate School of Public Health. Kelsey led the team that collected and analyzed the data.


Engineering faculty get grants for research Mohammad Ataai, associate professor of chemical engineering, has received a one-year, $60,000 grant from the Biotechnology Research Development Corp. entitled "Nucleotide Metabolism of Insect Cells." Assistant professor Ian Nettleship, materials science and engineering, received $7,500 from the Alcoa Foundation for his research in the area of thermomechanical processing nanocrystalline alumina powders.


J. Karl Johnson, associate professor in the chemical engineering department, received a $14,000 grant from the University Research Council entitled "Computer Modeling of Chemical Equilibria." Pitt cancer researchers receive NIH's Shannon Awards University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers have received Shannon Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research on prostate cancer and programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

The two awards, each for $100,000 over two years, will support research designed to strengthen future grant proposals submitted to NIH. The award honors James A. Shannon, a former NIH director.


Robert Getzenberg, assistant professor in the departments of pathology, surgery, medicine and pharmacology, received his award to investigate changes in the proteins of cell nuclei that are associated with prostate cancer. The study may prove useful for diagnosing prostate cancer, determining a patient's prognosis and offering new strategies for treatment.


Q. Ping Dou, assistant professor of pharmacology, received a Shannon award to continue his study of retinoblastoma cleavage protease, an enzyme that cooperates wth another enzyme, retinoblastoma phosphatase, and inhibits cellular proliferation by initiating apoptosis. The investigation may help in developing novel therapies to activate the enzyme in cancer patients and thereby stimulate apoptosis in tumor cells.


New technology makes possible yeast infection detection within 24 hours A patent has been issued for a technology that makes it possible to diagnose systemic candidiasis — yeast infections that have entered the bloodstream — within 24 hours, as opposed to three-to-seven days using conventional methods.

The technology, developed by Jeanne A. Jordan, medical director of clinical microbiology and molecular diagnostics at Magee-Womens Hospital and an assistant professor in Pitt's pathology department, will increase the chance of survival in newborn infants infected with systemic candidiasis. In newborns these infections can cause serious illness or death, particularly in very low birth weight infants.

Neonatal yeast infections have been particularly difficult to diagnose due to the small amount of blood available for testing from the infant, the lack of sensitive detection systems and the lengthy detection process. Additionally, physicians hesitate to prescribe the highly toxic antifungal drugs without substantial documentation that a candida infection exists.

Jordan made primers and probes that detect small pieces of a gene from the five most clinically relevant species of yeast. These reagents are used in a procedure termed polymerase chain reaction assay that enables detection of a very small number of organisms in a blood sample within 24 hours.

The technology also can be used in treating adults.


Two LIS profs receive funding from NSF, MCI The National Science Foundation (NSF) and MCI Telecommunication Corp. have awarded $347,138 to Pitt to support projects aimed at improving communication services.

David Tipper, of information science, will use the $269,065 NSF grant for his project to make large futuristic communication networks more fault-tolerant. This is expected to make the telephone, fax, cable TV and Internet more reliable.

The $78,073 MCI grant to Sujata Banerjee, information science, will be used to characterize high-speed network traffic in order to develop efficient networks. The results are expected to significantly impact future networking research of traffic models such as audio, video and data traffic from many div

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