Science, Health & Tech

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

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LifeCare is closing one of its Wilkinsburg hospitals in September, two months after parent company Hospital Acquisitions LLC filed for bankruptcy. The hospital system operates two other Pittsburgh-area locations — a behavioral health facility in Wilkinsburg and a hospital in Natrona Heights — which will remain open.

Janice Carr / CDC via AP

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, killing about a quarter of a million Americans each year. New research from the University of Pittsburgh shows statewide protocols to fight the infection appear to reduce the number of deaths it causes.

Allegheny County Health Department

An asthma registry for children secured $300,000 in funding from the Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday. The registry could illuminate why certain areas of the county have higher rates of the chronic respiratory condition. 

Ebrahim Noroozi / AP

On today’s program: How an executive order regarding kidney disease is affecting Pittsburgh transplant programs; the dean of Pitt's School of Law and former SCOTUS clerk reflects on the legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens; what it takes to get formerly incarcerated men back to work in Homewood; Democratic state Sen. Jay Costa explains his next legislative priorities; and WESA remembers Allegheny County elections chief Mark Wolosik.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Regular computers, including smart phones, can do a lot of cool stuff, but some datasets are so big that normal PCs just don’t cut it. When that’s the case, many researchers turn to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, which is planning to construct a faster, stronger machine next year.

Fifty years ago, on July 16, 1969, a Saturn V rocket was launched from Cape Kennedy Florida (now known Cape Canaveral), sending astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their way to the moon.

That morning, legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite was in a Florida studio near the launch site bright and early. The Saturn V rocket stood next to the launch tower on the screen behind him.

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On today's program: Medical marijuana will soon be used to treat anxiety, but not as a first resort; a local activist pushes shopping local during Amazon Prime Day; WESA explores the impact of crime and incarceration on Homewood; how a Perryopolis startup is modernizing cemetery management and commerce; and a new documentary weighs in on how humans interact with nature. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: Phipps Conservatory keeps its plants in one of the world's most sustainable buildings; a local organization helps video game enthusiasts find community IRL; the legacy of redlining, segregation and the war on drugs in Homewood; and high school and college STEM students get an up-close look at research at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. 

TERESA CRAWFORD / AP

Approximately one in eight sexually active high school girls have experienced reproductive coercion in the last three months, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh.

Tony Dejak / AP

Seniors today are happier than previous generations, according to new findings from the University of Pittsburgh.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

On today’s program: A 30-year Pitt study finds depression symptoms are decreasing in Pittsburgh's youngest seniors; President Trump replaces the Clean Power Plan; a Penn Hills senior housing community is struggling with mold; operas composed by Mr. Rogers are set to premiere in Shadyside; and family members of mentally ill individuals refusing treatment are at a legal stand-still.

Matt Slocum / AP

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has added anxiety disorders and Tourette syndrome to the list of medical conditions approved for receiving medical marijuana. 

Brett Sholtis / WITF

On Monday night, the Stringer family heard a familiar voice shouting outside their house.

Teresa Crawford / AP

Children born to obese mothers are significantly more likely to develop cancer while they're young, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

The study found that cancer was more prevalent in the kids of mothers with a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or higher -- defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the highest level of obesity. These children have a 57 percent higher risk of developing leukemia before the age of five compared to other kids.

Jessica Hill / AP

new study is looking to artificial intelligence to address the opioid crisis by identify people who may be at risk for opioid overdose.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Furries are people who have created anthropomorphized versions of themselves, and a Pittsburgh-based researcher has found that up to 15 percent of people with this hobby have autism spectrum disorder. This number includes people who have been diagnosed with autism, but may or may not agree with the analysis, and people who have never received a diagnosis, but self-identify as autistic. 

Researchers Rush To Answer Questions About Newly-Legal Hemp Crops

Jul 8, 2019
Rachel McDevitt / WITF

Alyssa Collins says she's been fielding around five phone calls every day from people with questions about hemp--and that's not even counting the emails.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs could prevent nearly 600 unintended pregnancies a year by adjusting how it dispense oral contraceptives, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh.

The VA is the largest integrated healthcare system in the U.S., and provides about 24,000 female veterans with oral contraceptives. Like most insurance systems in the country, the VA distributes three-month supplies of birth control pills, which must be refilled. 

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Conemaugh Health System is moving away from color codes – like Code Red or Code Blue – to signal emergencies, and instead will use plain language codes: a short description of the emergency and location. Experts say standardizing codes is a national trend, though Maryland is the only state with rules on uniform health care emergency codes. 

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By some standards, poison hemlock is a rather pretty plant, identifiable by its tall, dotted stalk and delicate, white, umbrella-shaped blooms.

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UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh said on Tuesday afternoon that it was likely a visitor introduced the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria to its facility, where it spread to six babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.

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UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh says a dozen people — including six babies — are being treated for the antibiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA.

Brett Sholtis / WITF

 

With the sun shining and birds chirping on a warm spring day, it's easy to see why Anson Flake loves living at the edge of the woods in Enola. When he and his family bought the 10-acre property more than 20 years ago, it was the fulfilment of a dream.  

"But, as we'll talk about, you know, there's a lot of ticks out here," Flake said.  

Flake never expected one of those ticks would lead him to the state Capitol in support of a piece of legislation. However, at some point in the early 2000s, he contracted Lyme disease. 

Seth Weing / AP

Penn State College of Medicine is one of three research centers chosen to investigate the potential benefits and risks of using medical marijuana to treat health conditions.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Western Pennsylvanians breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week when it was announced that UPMC and Highmark had reached a 10-year agreement, though not everyone insured by Highmark will have access to all UPMC medical facilities.

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Pittsburgh is a hub for technology research and development, but sometimes innovations bear questionable results.  

Usually a monopoly results in bigger bills for consumers, since a lack of competition allows a business to demand high prices. But a new analysis from the University of Pittsburgh finds that's not always the case for the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Two western Pennsylvania health care giants have a deal that averts the looming breakup of their business relationship, an agreement that prevents disruption and higher costs for many patients.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Half of all medical marijuana permits issued in Pennsylvania are for severe or chronic pain.

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