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Dr. Hawre Jalal joins PHDL faculty

Hawre Jalal, MD, PhDThe PHDL is pleased to announce the newest member of the lab faculty. Hawre Jalal, MD, PhD, joined the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health department of Health Policy and Management as an Assistant Professor this week. Hawre earned his MD degree in Iraq, practiced there for several years, and then completed a PhD in Heath Services Research, Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota, with a concentration in decision sciences. He recently completed a 2-year post-doc at Stanford in the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research (CHP/PCOR). Dr. Jalal will be working on many modeling projects and has expertise in operations research techniques, optimization, decision modeling and simulation.

PHDL Director Mark S. Roberts Received the Career Achievement Award from the Society for Medical Decision Making

Mark RObertsMark Roberts, M.D., M.P.P., professor and chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, and Director, Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, Pitt Public Health received one of the highest accolades offered by the professional society he joined more than 30 years ago as a medical student.  He received the Career Achievement Award of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) during its 36th Annual North American Meeting in Miami. The SMDM’s members include scientists from a variety of disciplines including decision science, psychology, health economics, operations research, biostatistics, clinical epidemiology and informatics. The award recognizes distinguished senior investigators who have made significant contributions to the field of medical decision making.


Richard Zimmerman in the PITT CTSI Spotlight for Influenza

influenza-virus-fulltextDr. Zimmerman presents information for the public on influenza infection, symptoms, and prevention.


Pitt Public Health to Strengthen Public Health Workforce with $3.4 Million Training Center

margaret potterMargaret Potter, J.D., M.S., will oversee the establishment of the Region 3 Public Health Training Center.

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 29, 2014 – The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health will receive nearly $3.4 million from the federal government over the next four years to establish and operate a training center intended to improve the nation’s public health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) selected Pitt Public Health to create the Region 3 Public Health Training Center to serve Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. It also will serve as the health informatics training center for the entire country.

The center will provide free training sessions to public health professionals on a variety of topics, ranging from behavioral health programming for smoking cessation to computer programs that track an infectious disease spread and simulate interventions to stop it.


Change in Public Health Dynamics Laboratory Leadership

Mark Roberts, MD, MPPMark S. Roberts, MD, MPP, has assumed directorship of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. Dr. Roberts is professor and chair of the Health Policy and Management Department at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds secondary appointments in Medicine, Industrial Engineering, and Clinical and Translational Science. A practicing general internist, he has conducted research in decision analysis and the mathematical modeling of disease for over 25 years, and has expertise in cost effectiveness analysis, mathematical optimization and simulation, and the measurement and inclusion of patient preferences into decision problems. Dr. Roberts has used decision analysis to examine clinical, costs, policy and allocation questions in liver transplantation, vaccination strategies, operative interventions, and the use of many medications. His recent research has concentrated in the use of mathematical methods from operations research and management science, including Markov Decision Processes, Simulation and integer programming to problems in health care.


Project Tycho™ study estimates that 100 million cases of contagious diseases have been prevented by vaccination programs in the United States since 1924

Project Tycho™In a paper published November 28, 2013, in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Contagious diseases in the United States from 1888 to the Present", Project Tycho™ authors describe how U.S. disease surveillance data have been used to estimate that over 100 million cases have been prevented by vaccination programs against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Vaccination programs against these diseases have been in place for over decades but epidemics continue to occur. Despite the availability of a pertussis vaccine since the 1920s, the largest pertussis epidemic in the U.S. since 1959 occurred last year. This study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and all data used for this study have been released through the online Project Tycho™ data system ( "Historical records are a precious yet undervalued resource. As Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, we live forward but understand backward," explained Dr. Donald Burke, senior author on the paper. "By 'rescuing' these historical disease data and combining them into a single, open-access, computable system, we can now better understand the devastating impact of epidemic diseases, and the remarkable value of vaccines in preventing illness and death."



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