Science, Health & Tech

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

screengrab via nasa.gov

There’s no shortage of excitement surrounding Monday’s solar eclipse.

Though Pittsburghers won’t be able to view a total eclipse (states south of Pittsburgh will get the full experience), we’ll still get about 80 percent coverage, according to NASA.

If you’re in the city or outside, you can check out what your view will look like on this Jet Propulsion Laboratory app:

Keith R. Stevenson / Pocono Record via AP

When Carolyn Choate was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2003, her tumor had already grown the size of a golf ball. Doctors gave her three years to live.

Fourteen years later, Choate is kayaking the Delaware River for a cause that's close to her heart: continuing the work of the woman who saved her life.

"This trip is our tribute to Dr. Angela Brodie," Choate said. "She's not here to see me finish this, but we want her work to continue."

Best Robotics

The national robotics education nonprofit Best Robotics is moving its headquarters to Pittsburgh.

Thousands of students participate in Best Robotics competitions annually, spending six weeks building robots with real world potential.

“Every year there's an industry theme for the competition,” said executive director Rosemary Mendel. “Last year, it was agriculture; this year, it's fire and rescue.”

The idea is to train the future tech workforce and get more kids excited about pursuing careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

As students in Pittsburgh and across the state prepare to head back to school, they will be required to comply with a new immunization policy from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Terry Collins will tell you BPA is a scary compound. It's a chemical that's used to manufacture plastics, and more than 6 billion pounds of it are produced every year.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Every year in the U.S., 200,000 people get pacemakers, 600,000 get knee replacements and 2.5 million have surgery to implant artificial eye lenses to fix cataracts. But the medical community knows little about how the aging process affects these implantable medical devices.

Bryan Brown wants to change that.

He’s a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and he’s trying to figure out how to harness the immune system’s natural inflammatory response to better integrate these devices into the body.

Jim Fetzner / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A researcher at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has helped discover three new kinds of crayfish in Kentucky's Appalachian region. Jim Fetzner and his team said these newly classified lobster-like crustaceans could help us understand how crayfish evolve.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Placing much of the blame on smoking, a study chronicling the ongoing health crisis in Appalachia has concluded that the 13-state region suffers from a growing disparity in infant mortality and life expectancy, two key indicators of "a nation's health and well-being."

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh's reputation as a center for engineering innovation is largely due to Angel Jordan, according to his friends and colleagues.

Jordan, the former Provost of Carnegie Mellon University and founder of its Robotics Institute, died Friday at the age of 86. 

PA Internet News Service

Pennsylvania officials are urging state residents to do all they can to prevent tick bites, especially in light of Pennsylvania’s history with Lyme disease.

In fact, the disease is so prevalent in Pennsylvania that the state dedicated a task force to combat tick-borne illnesses in 2014.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania could see more resources to combat the opioid crisis if President Donald Trump heeds a federal commission, which advised him earlier this week to declare a national emergency.

Gerry Broome / AP

A report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network finds Pennsylvania isn’t doing enough to produce statewide policies that help prevent and fight cancer.

Kathleen J. Davis / WESA

A Lawrenceville-based robotics company is collaborating with UCLA’s Biomechatronics Laboratory to make robots for the U.S. Navy. The goal is to create robots that can disarm underwater explosives, keeping military personnel away from dangerous environments.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The meeting space was standing-room-only at the Carnegie Library branch in East Liberty at Monday’s launch of Pittsburgh’s Human Library project.

A library is, essentially, a collection of information and stories that live inside books, on tape or via DVD. In a human library, the stories are told aloud by the people who lived them. The idea started in Denmark in 2000, as a way to break down stereotypes and has since made its way around the world.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article in July detailing why the Bay Area is the new king in self-driving automotive technology.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf touted the work of a Pittsburgh cellular technology company during a Monday stop on his "Jobs That Pay" tour, saying it was an example of why investing in education is good for the economy.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Thursday afternoon for a medical cannabis growing and processing facility coming to McKeesport.

Occurence of Trihalomethanes in the Nation's Ground Water and Drinking Water Supply Wells, 1985-2002 / United States Geological Survey

Lead isn't the only potential water contaminant Pittsburgh residents should worry about, according to researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

The Washington, D.C.-based research and lobbying group this week launched a website that allows residents to look up which contaminants are present in the local drinking water supply, at what levels they exist and how those levels compare with state and national averages.

Methadone Clinic Operator Gets Prison Term In Pill Mill Case

Jul 27, 2017
Toby Talbot / AP

A defense attorney and a courtroom full of supporters depicted a woman who ran a methadone clinic for 20 years as a cross between a den mother and an angel of mercy to southwestern Pennsylvania's growing population of opioid addicts, but a federal prosecutor countered that she was a "greedy" businesswoman who defrauded Medicaid to feed a gambling habit.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer opted for the middle ground Thursday.

eggrole / Flickr

Physicians in Pennsylvania can now register to participate in the state’s forthcoming medical marijuana program.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The environmental engineer who worked to expose the Flint lead crisis in 2014 said Pittsburgh’s drinking water lead levels are higher than the Michigan city, but he’s encouraged by downward trends.

Carnegie Mellon University

John Essey and his wife Adrienne recently sold their house in Dormont and moved to Allison Park to be closer to family.

Essey said his “excessive” collection of sensors in his Dormont home was both a selling point and a drawback for potential buyers.

“They were impressed, and it was nice for someone who was tech minded, but some people were still kind of put off as far as why all these sensors were in your house? Do you have cameras? What’s the purpose of these things?” Essey said.

National Energy Technology Laboratory

Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory south of Pittsburgh are discovering valuable rare earth elements in coal waste.

WeMake Milano / Milano

The internet and cable company Comcast has chosen Pittsburgh for its new networking platform, MachineQ, which purports to offer quicker and more energy-efficient options for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT technology is the interconnectivity of objects through tiny implanted data-sending machines.

Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

On Rosetta Street,  in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood, someone has posted signs that read, “Nobody wants to look at your garbage” and “Have some respect.” They’ve used all capital letters for emphasis. This block is a haven for illegal dumping.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In many developing countries, families routinely cook on open fires, often in poorly ventilated homes. According to the World Health Organization, the smoke from those fires lead to the premature death of more than 4 million people each year.

In rural Uganda, families often burn dried banana leaves.

"Which doesn’t combust very well, so it’s very inefficient so it makes a lot of smoke,” said Josh Shapiro, an engineer with Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced Tuesday that it is now in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards for lead levels in drinking water.

Carlos Guisti / AP

More than a dozen experts have developed an ethical framework for clinical trials for a Zika vaccine, including UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital’s chief medical officer Richard Beigi.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A giant white balloon floated across Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park Friday morning as part of a test launch of a University of Pittsburgh and NASA research project. A few dozen people watched as the balloon and a few colorful containers attached by a rope were released into the cloudy skies just before noon.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The state government isn't doing enough to measure the effectiveness of its addiction treatment programs that can be helpful in the fight against the epidemic of heroin and prescription drug overdoses, auditors said Thursday.

The audit launched last year by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale produced recommendations that three state agencies — the departments of Human Services, Corrections, and Drug and Alcohol Programs — do more to assess whether their addiction treatment programs are successful in curing people. It also warns that more money is needed to fund the effort.

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