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August 28, 2003

People of the Times

Barry London has been named chief of the Division of Cardiology at Pitt’s medical school and director of the UPMC Cardiovascular Institute.

London has been a member of the Pitt faculty since 1996 when he was named assistant professor of medicine. During his tenure here, he has held numerous positions including acting research director at the Cardiovascular Institute and assistant dean of admissions at the School of Medicine.

Prior to joining the Pitt faculty, London was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, an assistant in cardiology at Children’s Hospital in Boston and an assistant in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He was a fellow of the American Heart Association, Massachusetts affiliate, in 1992; a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow at Children’s Hospital, Boston, in 1993; and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology in 1998. He is board certified in internal medicine and in cardiovascular disease.

In 1998, London received the Astra-Merck Cardiovascular Young Investigator’s Award. He also has served as a permanent member of the Cardiovascular Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2001. He was co-chairman of the Genetics Study Section of the American Heart Association, Mid-Atlantic affiliate, in 2001-2002.

Susan A. Albrecht received the Leadership Achievement Award from Sigma Theta Tau International, Eta Chapter. This award honors outstanding leadership in the nursing profession.

Albrecht is associate dean for student and alumni services and development in the School of Nursing.

Thomas H. Savits, professor of statistics in the Department of Statistics, was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Savits was recognized for innovative development of the foundations of engineering reliability theory; for research contributions in multivariate life classes, models of dependence and applied probability; for service in the formation of a statistics department, and for continued service to the profession.

A team of critical care medicine and bioethics experts has launched an 18-month initiative to address the increasingly disparate practice of medical rationing in U.S. intensive care units (ICUs), a phenomenon that compromises the quality of care and clinical outcomes of the nation’s most vulnerable patients.

Known as the Values, Ethics & Rationing in Critical Care (VERICC) Task Force, the group is a first-of-its-kind research and education initiative dedicated to examining critical care rationing practices and how best to allocate potentially life-saving therapies and services.

Representing Pitt on this task force is Derek Angus, associate professor of critical care medicine, medicine and health policy and management. As a clinician, educator and researcher, Angus is widely regarded as an innovator in the practice of intensive care medicine. He has published more than 300 journal articles, abstracts and book chapters, focusing on the epidemiology, cost, cost-effectiveness and outcomes of intensive care and critical illness.

Over the past two decades, Angus has worked to improve physician awareness of critical illnesses and promote a greater understanding of treatment advances through his service on a variety of international expert panels, consensus conferences and advisory boards.

The 20-member VERICC Task Force will re-examine the factors — financial as well as psychological — that contribute to current rationing practices. The VERICC Task Force plans to develop and implement a nationally relevant resource allocation model, accessible by ICUs throughout the United States, which will assist clinicians and administrators in making the most of increasingly scarce fiscal means.

In commemoration of Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia earning the master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of Padua, Italy, 325 years ago, E. Maxine Bruhns, director of the Nationality Rooms Program, facilitated the translation and publication of an academic biography of Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in the world to receive a university degree in June 1678.

Written by Ludovico Francesco Maschietto, the scholarly biography of Cornaro Piscopia is to be published by St. Joseph’s University Press in Philadelphia.

Bruhns has long been involved in leading the campaign to recognize Cornaro Piscopia’s accomplishments. In 1978, as chair of the United States Cornaro Tercentenary Committee, based at Pitt, Bruhns led a delegation to Italy for a week of celebratory events in Venice and Padua. The committee provided a new black marble gravestone at the site of Cornaro Piscopia’s burial, in what was then named Cappella Cornaro.

Cornaro Piscopia’s portrait hangs on the rear wall of Pitt’s Italian Nationality Room.

Books about Cornaro Piscopia are available through the Nationality Rooms Program. For more information, call 412/624-6150.

Linda Marts, undergraduate medical education administrator in the Department of Medicine and vice president for communications of the Pittsburgh campus Staff Association Council, was named winner of the 2003 Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine (CDIM) Outstanding Educational Program Development Award.

Marts will receive the award at the 2003 CDIM national meeting in October.

CDIM is an organization of individuals responsible for programs that teach internal medicine to medical students.

Daniel R. Swayze, director of prehospital care at UPMC, received the Walter J. Thomas Citizen Award Aug. 8 at the 26th annual Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services (EMS) conference. The conference was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The Walter J. Thomas Citizen Award honors a member who has made a significant impact on the improvement of emergency health care. Swayze has served on the Pennsylvania EMS Council since 1994. With nearly 20 years of EMS service, he has developed, integrated and maintained several successful EMS programs dedicated to disease prevention and wellness in the tri-state region, including Medic Vax, a UPMC-sponsored program that has administered more than 20,000 influenza vaccinations to western Pennsylvania citizens.

Additionally, Swayze has supported a successful car seat safety inspection program. He and his team completed the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s 40-hour car seat technician course and then offered the program to local EMS agencies.

Swayze also established a new health center known as EMed-Health, a collaborative project with UPMC’s Prehospital Care, the Center of Emergency Medicine of Western Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Foundation. The center helps EMS services to improve the quality of health for citizens in underserved populations.

Sharon Hillier, professor in the departments of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and molecular genetics and biochemistry at Pitt’s School of Medicine, has been elected president of the Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology (IDSOG). She is the first female president since the society’s founding. Her term of office for the IDSOG runs until summer 2004.

A senior investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI), Hillier’s main research interests focus on the role of normal vaginal bacteria and infections on pregnancy complications and their part in genital infection and susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. She is principal investigator for an $8 million NIH-funded project to develop a topical microbicide barrier to HIV.

Hillier and her colleagues currently are pursuing several scientific projects that involve UC781, a tight-binding organic molecule about the size of an antibiotic. UC781 is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that renders the HIV virus incapable of infecting cells. Hillier came to Pitt in 1995 from the University of Washington in Seattle.

In addition to her teaching duties, Hillier is director of reproductive infectious disease research at MWRI and director of the Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at Magee-Womens Hospital.

Bill Ankrom has been promoted to athletic training team leader at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, located within the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Ankrom has been a member of the UPMC athletic training staff since 1996, contracted to Mt. Lebanon High School.

With more than 40 certified athletic trainers, UPMC has the region’s largest staff of trainers and has service contracts with 39 area high schools and seven local colleges and universities.

As athletic training team leader at UPMC, Ankrom is responsible for handling the daily operations of the entire staff.

Ankrom is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association and Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Society. He is an instructor for the American Red Cross Community First Aid-CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) courses.   Two staff promotions and two new hires have been announced in the Office of Public Affairs.

Linda K. Schmitmeyer, editor of the Pitt Chronicle since February 2001, has been promoted to the position of director of news, and John A. Fedele, a senior communications representative since 1998, has been promoted to assistant director of news.

In her new role, Schmitmeyer oversees Pitt’s day-to-day news operation, functions as executive editor of the Chronicle and oversees the unit’s efforts to develop and place stories of local, regional and national interest.
Fedele is responsible for planning and coordinating local and regional media relations and supervising news conferences.

New to the Pitt staff are Brian Connelly, for nine years the managing editor of Focus, the Carnegie Mellon University faculty senate newspaper, who assumed the editorship of the Pitt Chronicle on Aug. 1; and Celeste Kimbrough, an editorial assistant for Cerebrum: The Dana Forum on Brain Science, who is the unit’s new science and technology writer.

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