Spreading the Word to Improve Public Health
One of Pitt’s missions is getting health information and resources out into the community for use in fighting diseases and developing policy.
Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) researchers undertake large, multi-year studies to gather information about health issues. Among these are the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures—ongoing since 1986—and the Osteoporotic Fracture Risk in Men Study, both led by epidemiology professor Jane Cauley. She also leads GSPH’s new National Children’s Study, which seeks to recruit 100,000 children nationwide for a study of the effects of genetic and environmental factors on growth, health, and development.
GSPH’s Steven Belle is principal investigator of the data-coordinating center at the Hepatitis B Clinical Research Network, a Pitt-coordinated consortium of 15 clinical and research centers in the United States and Canada. A seven-year, $11 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases will enable the network to establish a multi-site treatment trial, create and maintain a database of study results, and store tissue and serum samples for clinical research.
In 2009, at the beginning of the health care debate, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies asked Sally Morton, chair of GSPH’s Department of Biostatistics, to join a group of experts creating a list of the top-100 problems in health care effectiveness that researchers needed to address. Morton had previously recommended creating an autonomous organization to evaluate the effectiveness of health interventions; Congress took her advice.
Other GSPH projects address public health less directly. One is Fractracker, a Web site that compiles research related to natural-gas fracking and the health effects of Marcellus shale gas drilling. Fractracker was developed by GSPH’s Center for Health Environments and Communities.