The University of Pittsburgh

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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.

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.

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.


UPMC/Pitt Health Sciences

Prosthetics researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have landed a $5.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a lower limb prosthesis that mimics the feeling of a leg or foot.

Current prosthetics lack sensory feedback, so people who have lost a leg often struggle to walk. To recreate the sensations of balance and pressure, researchers are experimenting with an implant that transmits electronic signals to a simulator worn on the belt. 

Beth Shaaban / provided

University of Pittsburgh organizer Beth Shaaban said unionizing graduate students is more important now than ever in light of the proposed tax bill in Congress.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At least 49 genes contribute to whether one’s earlobes are attached or detached.

That's what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found in a new study. Lead author John R. Shaffer says this work could help shed light on serious genetic syndromes.

"Some of these conditions, like an example is Mowat-Wilson syndrome, the ear involves earlobe malformations," said Shaffer. "In the same genes that affect normal variation in the morphology, when they're disrupted, they lead to genetic syndromes."


For people with anxiety or depression, an online therapy can be similarly effective to seeing a mental health professional, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. The cognitive behavioral therapy program (CBT), called "Beating the Blues," consists of eight one-hour video sessions that teach patients to overcome negative thoughts.

90.5 WESA

During his yearly budget address Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto said the city has been diligent about fiscal responsibility and is ready to retake control of its finances. 

Jessica Kourkounis / AP

New research from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC credits a computer program with detecting sudden kidney failure in hospitalized patients.


Acute kidney injury affects one in eight hospitalized patients in the U.S., according to UPMC. About 2 million people in the world die of the condition each year, and because it’s often asymptomatic, it can be undetected until problems arise.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

UPDATED: Oct.5, 2017 at 9:25 a.m. 

Protesters from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church plan to march through Pittsburgh’s Oakland and Downtown neighborhoods Thursday afternoon, according to the group’s website.

Joe Miksch, University of Pittsburgh director of media relations, said the university is taking steps to ensure safety of students, faculty and staff.

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Sepsis is the leading cause of hospital deaths in the country, killing 250,000 Americans each year. The bacterial infection, colloquially known as "blood poisoning," can be caused by contamination in a hospital setting, and in deadly situations results in organ failure.

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A new University of Pittsburgh-led study reveals Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees prescribed an opioid are still highly likely to continue that prescription after an overdose from a legal opioid or heroin. 

Garry Knight / Wikipedia Commons

The elderly benefit more from standing exercises than traditional seated ones, according to a report by the University of Pittsburgh. Researcher Jennifer Brach said while this has been assumed for quite a while, her study was the first to prove it scientifically.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Susan Hicks, a University of Pittsburgh professor, was killed in October of 2015 when her bike was pinned between two cars on Forbes Avenue. Her death was a shock to Pittsburgh's biking community, which had advocated for changes to Oakland's busy roads for years.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Oxygen is something that many of us take for granted. But many people with breathing disorders can't take it in on their own -- and it's especially difficult for people living in poor and remote parts of the world. 

Scientist Wendy Zhang recalled the difficult decisions a physician in Gabon, Africa had to make as the result of limited resources. 

"On some, she had to make the heart-wrenching decision of which baby to live and which baby to die just because they don’t have oxygen to supply both,” Zhang said.

University of Pittsburgh

Researchers and laboratory scientists are increasingly trying to move cells and nano-particles through smaller and smaller channels.

“You want to get fluid pumped through something that’s the width of your hair,” said Anna Balazs, University of Pittsburgh chemical and petroleum engineering professor. “So one of the challenges is first just how to pump fluid through and then how to direct particles … to a specific location.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

Nearly every subspecialty seems to have its own academic journal, from one dedicated to "Positivity” – it’s a math thing – to one for engineers working in the packaging industry.

But until now, there has never been an academic journal for research into blockchain – the technology behind Bitcoin.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Anxiety treatment that integrates regular telephone follow-ups may be more effective than traditional treatment through a primary care physician alone.

The finding is the result of a University of Pittsburgh-led study that focused mainly on anxiety and panic disorders. Of a total 329 patients referred from their UPMC-affiliated practices, researchers selected 250 who were considered “highly anxious.” Researchers randomly chose some “highly anxious” participants to receive phone call follow-ups from care managers, in addition to their regular care.

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A three-day housing summit hosted by the University of Pittsburgh this weekend will bring together academics and activists.

The University-Community Housing Summit will explore urban renewal, human rights and gentrification through talks, workshops and neighborhood tours.

Mindy Thompson gave the keynote address Thursday. Her 2013 book Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities explored the urban renewal of Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

Sung Kwon Cho

In the 1966 movie The Fantastic Voyage, a team of scientists were shrunk to microscopic proportions and sent inside the human body. Now, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are taking that idea into the 21st Century -- sort of. 

Pitt mechanical engineering associate professor Sung Kwon Cho hasn't figured out how to shrink a submarine, but he has figured out how to control the movement of a tiny device through a simulated blood stream using nothing more than an air bubble and an ultrasound machine.

Chuck Szmurko / Wikipedia

Though Pittsburgh lost out on the $50 million Smart Cities grant, city officials are still participating in a project called MetroLab, under the same federal initiative.

The MetroLab network is a city-university partnership that’s part of the White House’s Smart Cities project, where schools serve as research and development arms.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

An audience of about 50 people watched uncomfortably as a man named Jon confessed he raped a girl in high school.

The confession was actually part of a scene in the play, “Tape,” a story about sexual assault, performed at the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The play follows the character Jon’s confession to his friend, Vince, that he raped a woman 10 years earlier. In the play, the two men both dated the woman, Amy, in high school.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA


The lead acid battery, invented in the mid-1800s, has been the technology of choice when it comes to starting cars for decades. Though small advances over the years have made car batteries more reliable, lead acid batteries are still essentially the same.

Flickr/Nate Steiner

Throat cancer survivor Larry VanDyke drinks kale protein every day. He's been in recovery since August of 2014 when he endured seven weeks of radiation and three rounds of chemotherapy.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are making tiny strides -- no, really -- that could revolutionize the solar industry.

Paul Leu runs a lab at the university where students work with tiny particles called nanotubes.


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working on technology that could help make a human mission to Mars possible.

Flickr user Hitthatswitch

A lab worker at the University of Pittsburgh has contracted the Zika virus by accidentally sticking herself with a needle.

The Allegheny County Health Department reported the county’s fourth case Thursday.

According to a Pitt spokesman, the accident occurred on May 23. The worker developed symptoms by June 1 and returned to work on June 6.

In a statement, ACHD director Karen Hacker said, “there is still no current risk of contracting Zika from mosquitos in Allegheny County.”

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Pennsylvania has used a prescription drug monitoring program and database since 1972 and it’s due for an upgrade.

“Although it was a prescription monitoring system, it was woefully inadequate,” said Michael Zemaitis, a University of Pittsburgh pharmaceutical science professor.

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have unraveled one of the longstanding mysteries of how our sense of smell works.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Lab rats can be taught to do just about any simple task for food or a treat. 

Scientists can also watch what is going on inside a rat’s brain by inserting a few electrodes. So it's not unusual that researchers at the University of Pittsburgh attached wires to the brains of a group of rats while performing menial tasks. The researchers wanted to understand the effect of anxiety, but what they learned was unusual.