Science, Health & Tech

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

Dentist Group Puts Teeth In Push To Curb Opioid Painkillers

Mar 26, 2018
Toby Talbot / AP

The American Dental Association wants dentists to drastically cut back on prescribing opioid painkillers.

The association announced a new policy Monday that "essentially says eliminate opioids from your arsenal if at all possible," said Dr. Joseph Crowley, the group's president. The Chicago-based group represents around 161,000 dentists.

The group is also pushing for limiting opioid prescriptions to no more than a week and mandatory education for dentists that encourages using other painkillers.

SalFalko / Flickr

Social Security numbers are used for just about everything--financial records, medical information, legal documents.

Toby Talbot / AP

With more than 650 drug fatalities in 2017, Allegheny County broke the record for fatal overdoses set the previous year, which in turn broke the record established in 2015.

brian donovan / Flickr

A new report finds that Pittsburgh tech companies received $687 million in investments in 2017, which is the highest for a single year in the past decade.

Thomas Altany / University of Pittsburgh

Last week, the University of Pittsburgh celebrated the launch of a new makerspace at its Manufacturing Assistance Center in Homewood with a small ceremony.

Allegheny Health Network

Highmark Health announced Monday it recorded a $1.1 billion surplus in 2017, crediting the strong performance to increased investment in communities. 

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Shouts of surprise and joy erupted Friday at noon from graduating students at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.

Brennan Linsley / AP

With Tax Day just about four weeks away, Pennsylvania's Department of Revenue is urging residents to watch out for a new scam.

Subconsci Productions / Flickr

People who retire early may be tempted to purchase so-called “skinny” health insurance plans before Medicare kicks in because they’re less expensive, but Pennsylvania’s Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman told an AARP audience in Penn Hills on Wednesday that they should be careful when considering this type of insurance, as it’s not compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

It turns out a knitting machine can work a bit like a 3-D printer.

Charlie Riedel / AP

If everyone on the road is driving like a lunatic and your coworkers seem to be moving a little slower this week, take a deep breath, as many people probably haven't had enough rest due to the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Multi-layer constructs, the plastic packaging used for some food and beverage items like juice boxes and bags of chips, are composed of multiple layers of different materials. Because the different materials can't be separated, this packaging is not recyclable, and ends up in landfills or the environment.

Keith Srakocic / AP

After less than a month of medical marijuana being sold in Pennsylvania dispensaries are running out of product.

“I would almost call it like a ‘growing pain,'” said Rocco Levine, the general manager of Solevo Wellness in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh’s sole dispensary, which sold the last of its marijuana over the weekend.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

On a Saturday afternoon, a group of about 25 people, ranging from teenagers to seniors, were gathered at the Steel City Improv Theatre in Shadyside for a workshop. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania's budding medical marijuana dispensaries have just about run out of pot.

Toby Talbot / AP

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says it is ending a pre-authorization requirement for Medicaid recipients to receive coverage for medication they are prescribed to help treat opioid addiction.

Joaquin Gonzalez / 90.5 WESA

It's not unusual for students at Cornell School District to be in two places at once.

Uwe Lein / AP

It's clear that genes play a significant role in shaping the human face — just look at your biological parents or children. But scientists are just starting to figure out which genes determine the arch of your brow bone, or the point of your chin.

"The face is very complex, just like the brain is very complex," said University of Pittsburgh anthropologist Seth Weinberg, who contributed to the research.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

At the northeast corner of US Route 30 and Agnew Road in Westmoreland County, there’s a sloping, nine-acre lot of mostly gravel and overgrown brush.

A Surge Of Black Lung Disease In Appalachia

Feb 22, 2018
Timothy D. Easly / AP

An ugly legacy of the coal mining industry is making a comeback in Appalachia. Despite regulations meant to protect workers from toxic coal dust, a whole new generation of miners is being diagnosed with the most severe form of black lung disease. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

There are few options available to adults with autism spectrum disorder who want to improve their social or communication skills, but a study from the University of Pittsburgh that looks at two types of interventions has produced some promising results.

Carnegie Mellon University

A team of students from Carnegie Mellon University was one of eight squads world-wide selected earlier this month by Amazon to compete in its Alexa Prize challenge.

The goal is to develop "socialbot" artificial intelligence software that can hold engaging conversations with people on a wide range of topics, like sports and current events. 

Jeff Roberson / AP, file

Methamphetamines have faded into the background as the opioid epidemic has taken hold of the country with deadly tenacity.

However, in the last couple of years, meth cases have been on the rise in some parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The change is one of degrees, said Patrick Trainor, a supervisory special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Philadelphia.

“These drugs have never gone away, but we have noticed an increase in seizures in this region,” he said.

NorthWest EMS

It’s about a quarter to midnight on a Sunday at the NorthWest EMS Helen Street station in McKees Rocks. EMT Edd Keisling just clocked out after working a 40-hour shift.

diane cordell / Flickr

Preliminary results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show what everyone had suspected, this year’s flu vaccine isn’t very effective.

Final numbers might change slightly, but the vaccine’s effectiveness rate is only 36 percent.

Keith Srakocic / AP

It's been nearly two years since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana, and this week, a handful of dispensaries began selling it.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

At about 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, the door at the Solevo Wellness medical marijuana dispensary in Squirrel Hill opened, allowing in a line of patients that wrapped around the building.

Legal Medical Marijuana Sales Begin At Pennsylvania Facility

Feb 15, 2018
Ryan Kang / AP

The first legal medical marijuana sales under a 2-year-old state law began Thursday at a dispensary in western Pennsylvania, with the first purchase by a woman who lobbied for passage of the law.

A line of about a dozen people greeted employees as they opened the doors of the Cresco Yeltrah dispensary in Butler. Five other dispensaries are expected to start sales in the coming days.

Diana Briggs of Export, Pennsylvania, said the $178 purchase she made should easily be enough to treat her 17-year-old son Ryan for a month.

University of Pittsburgh

A new biotech incubator specializing in immunology will open in around two years at the site of a former Ford auto plant on Baum Boulevard.

 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A 2017 report by the Brookings Institution suggested that Pittsburgh as a whole could realize its economic potential more fully by turning Oakland into a central hub for innovation and technology.

Pages