Science, Health & Tech

We cover these essential linchpins of the Pittsburgh regional economy, and how they impact residents' personal health and employment. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

About 100 people filled Pittsburgh City Council chambers Tuesday for a hearing on a proposed UPMC vision and rehabilitation hospital in Uptown. Many were opposed to the plan and called on the multi-billion-dollar non-profit to provide more affordable care and offer expanded benefits for employees.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

For the first time, scientists have discovered the source of a vanishingly tiny particle called a neutrino that came from outside the Milky Way, with the help of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

The center's powerful computers helped trace the particle's origin to the collapse of a supermassive black hole nearly 4 billion light years away.

About 100 trillion neutrinos pass through your body every second. They're invisible to the eye, but when they react with water molecules at a high speed, they eminate a bluish light.

UPMC

A march is scheduled on Tuesday ahead of a public hearing at Pittsburgh’s city council about a proposed UPMC vision and rehabilitation hospital in Uptown.

Colin Charles / Flickr

New analysis from the University of Pittsburgh has found a link between alcohol and perceived physical attractiveness. In other words, “beer goggles” are real.

Researchers looked at data from some 1,800 people collected from 16 previous studies. Participants rated the attractiveness of people in photographs, about half were drinking, and the other sober.

The intoxicated group gave modestly higher scores.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh ranks fourth out of all large U.S. metropolitan areas in the number of days where the air posed moderate-to-serious health risks, according to new analysis from a statewide environmental organization.

Report: Amid Crisis, Doctors Are Writing Fewer Opioid Prescriptions

Jul 12, 2018
Blue Cross Blue Shield Assocation

Prescriptions for opioids fell 29 percent nationwide from 2013 to 2017, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

ACA Funding Freeze Adds Uncertainty For PA Marketplace

Jul 11, 2018
Andrew Harnik / AP

The U.S. Health and Human Services department has put a freeze on $10.4 billion in funding that was expected to go to Affordable Care Act insurers later this year, raising questions about the future of the exchange in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Peter M. Winter Institute for Simulation, Education, and Research

The virtual reality simulation “Opioid Rescue” opens with an unconscious man lying on a basement floor next to an empty syringe.

“The first thing I’m going to do is try to talk to him and see if he’s conscious,” said Grace Mueller, an intern at the University of Pittsburgh’s Peter M. Winter Institute for Simulation, Education, and Research, also known as WISER.

“Are you OK? Wake up!” a female voice asked the unconscious man.

“It seems like he’s not responding so I’m going to try and shake his shoulders,” she said.

Sarah Boden / WESA News

The death of black teenager Antwon Rose at the hands of a white police officer has been a catalyst for social activism in Pittsburgh, and might also stir up past trauma for people of color.  

Carnegie Mellon University

The seed of a tropical plant and run-of-the-mill sand is all researchers needed to create a powerful water filtration system, according to a team from Carnegie Mellon University refining the process.

The Moringa oleifera tree is native to India and found in many developing countries in tropical and subtropical regions. Proteins inside the tree's seed kill bacteria, and the ground up seed is sometimes used as a rudimentary filtration system.

Sue Ogrocki / AP

A new algorithm created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University could help geneticists understand the DNA replication process and how it varies from organism to organism. 

PA Hospital Cuts Opioid Scripts, Looks At New Ways To Ease Pain

Jul 2, 2018
Toby Talbot / AP

The culture of clinicians treating pain as a fifth vital sign, targeting pain-free living through a prescription regimen, is acknowledged as a driving factor behind the rise of opioid addiction.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine found 4 in 5 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers.

Geisinger Health System took efforts to change that culture internally, slashing by half its opioid prescriptions and focusing instead on a regimen of pain management combining physical therapy with changes in diet and behavior.

Patrick Semansky / AP

In January, 39-year-old Damian Chadwick died at a Bethel Park barbershop a little before 2 p.m. According to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner, the overdose death was due to a combination of cocaine, alcohol and the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

As the opioid epidemic rages on, more and more places from libraries to Goodwill stores are keeping the anti-overdose drug naloxone on hand. 

Since September, all YMCAs of Greater Pittsburgh have had somoene on duty who’s trained to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of an overdose by restarting a person’s breathing.

Mel Evans / AP

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health finds that opioid-related overdose deaths are being underreported, and this means the epidemic may be worse than it appears.

Potentially 70,000 opioid-related overdose deaths were not included in national estimates between 1999 and 2015. Researchers estimates that 1,307 of those deaths where in Pennsylvania, the largest number of any state.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Often the most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship is the moment they decide to leave an abuser. An app from the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh can help people make a plan to get away and find a safe place to go.

The center launched the RUSafe app in 2014 as a way to connect domestic violence victims with help hotlines, advocates and shelters. It also included a self-assessment, asking questions about physical abuse and violence at the hands of partners to determine if people are in an unsafe situation.

Mark Thiessen / AP

Microscopic mites are causing extreme itching in Pennsylvania’s black bears, leading to hair loss, lesions, infections and even death.

Ryan Kang / AP

Under Pennsylvania law, a person operating a car, truck, boat or airplane can be arrested if they're under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana is federally considered a Schedule 1 drug, lumping it with heroin, LSD and esctacy.

State Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) says this creates confusion for law enforcement if they pull over a medical marijuana patient. Delozier will soon introduce legislation to allow medical marijuana patients to operate a vehicle while under the influence, as long as their driving is not impaired.

Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health

Marilou Yingling has run York's home lead testing and enforcement program for 28 years.

House Moves To Amend Medical Marijuana Law’s Research Rules

Jun 20, 2018
David Zalubowski / AP

State lawmakers moved Tuesday to reinstate the research provision of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana law, a month after a court decision left it in limbo.

NASA.gov

Astronauts often use zip-ties for quick fixes on payloads and hardware outside the International Space Station, but cutting them can be tricky and create debris.

John Amis / AP

Researchers have apologized to the Pennsylvania Department of Health for erroneously calling Pittsburgh a “hot spot” for kids going unvaccinated for religious or philosophical reasons.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Pittsburgh-area scientists are part of an international group to discover a new squirrel-like mammal from the time of the dinosaurs. 

Ambolestes zhoui it is the most complete fossil of a relative of placental mammals found from the Mesozoic Era. It was unearthed in Inner Mongolia, a region of northeast China, in a quarry that, 126 million years ago, was a lake.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Smokey restaurants in Pennsylvania are a thing of the past thanks to the Clean Indoor Air Act. The law, which passed 10 years ago, outlaws smoking in most public spaces and workplaces.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Baptist Homes is a sprawling senior care campus, located on a lush, quiet hillside in Mt. Lebanon. About 50 people live in the personal care part of the facility, where they can get help with everyday tasks. 

Eric Risberg / AP

A new program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine aims to help young physicians learn the ropes of research. Less than 1.5 percent of medical doctors pursue research careers, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

Ambulance providers in Pennsylvania are enthusiastic about a bill advancing in the state legislature that would require insurance companies to reimburse EMS for calls that don’t end in a hospital trip.

Richard Drew / AP

The $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner moved one step closer Tuesday after a federal judge ruled in favor of the two companies in an antitrust suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Angela Washko

The aesthetic of “The Game: The Game” couples lurid fluorescents with hazy shadows to create the same disjointed feeling of standing in a loud, dark bar.

While the player's character is femme-presenting, the other avatars are all men. The goal of the game is to navigate a bar that's been infiltrated by a group of so-called "pick-up artists."

Thein Zaw / AP

For a long time, scientists thought that the flu virus degraded in humid conditions and that was the reason most people don’t catch it in the summer.

University of Pittsburgh microbiologist Seema Lakdawala and collaborators devised an experiment to determine how mucus enables the airborne transmission of H1N1, which caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and found that it survived in several types of environments. Dry, moist – it didn’t matter.

Screengrab / CDC

Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state from 1999 to 2016, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday. Since 2016, there have been 45,000 suicides nationwide.

Pages