Science, Health & Tech

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

Matt Rourke / AP

The state plans to spend more to help families impacted by the opioid epidemic raise children.

Molly Riley / AP

Pennsylvania is finalizing the first major update to the organ donation law that's been in place for a quarter century.

Nic Lockerman / Courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center

Ron Baillie and Ann Metzger have served as co-directors of the Carnegie Science Center since 2012. That partnership will come to an end at the close of 2018 when they both retire

Baillie says people often ask him about his long career: “‘How could you stay 35 years?’ It’s because there’s always a new project. There’s always a new opportunity around every corner, and you can’t walk away from it.”

Gary Yon / UPMC

In 1998, researcher Yaacov Barak noticed a mutated gene in mice placentas that led to fatal heart defects in the fetus. The University of Pittsburgh researcher found that by fixing the mutation, he could correct the heart abnormality.

Farm Jenny

More than one million farms in the United States bring in less than $10,000 per year, meaning most of those farmers need a day job to pay the bills. Farm Jenny, a Pittsburgh startup, wants to give farmers a way to monitor their animals while they're away.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Since medical marijuana passed in Pennsylvania in 2016, only one labor union has come to an agreement with the city to allow employees to obtain medical marijuana cards: Pittsburgh firefighters.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

In forming a nonprofit last week to oversee a supervised injection site in Philadelphia, public health advocates got closer to what may be the opening of the first such site in the country.

Nam Y. Huh / AP

Middle-aged women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted, at work or otherwise, are more likely to have mental or physical health problems, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh.

The study looked at 304 nonsmoking women between the ages of 40 and 60, controlling for several factors like race, age and obesity.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

One major question that has loomed over Philadelphia’s support of opening the country’s first supervised injection facility has been who would assume the legal risk of the nonprofit overseeing the site in the face of aggressive threats from the Trump administration that it would shut down the enterprise?

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The state of Pennsylvania is asking coders and designers to look at its data on the opioid crisis as part of a month-long hackathon to find new strategies to fight the epidemic.

Reid Frazier / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A litany of health issues is arising as weather and temperatures become more severe, said emergency nursing experts at the national Emergency Nurses Association conference in Pittsburgh last week.

High on this list are illnesses related to poor air quality.

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties will receive additional money to combat illegal activity related to the opioid epidemic as part of their recent High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area classification.

As Federal Medicaid Funding Declines, States Mull Costs

Sep 27, 2018
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Maine's Republican governor has said federal regulators want to know how Maine would pay for Medicaid expansion. 

Bryanna Johnson / Prototype

Five Pittsburgh nonprofits are banding together for a free workshop series on tech and entrepreneurship skills. The program, called the City as our Makerspace, is specifically aimed at women of color and is a collaboration of Prototype PGH, Black Unicorn Library, A Peace of Mind, Ujamaa Collective and Flower House.

Editor's Note: This story contains descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

Guiding her cart down an aisle of a Virginia grocery store, Leigh Michel attracts more attention than the average shopper.

"Do you know where the dog food is?" one man asks her. This kind of attention makes her uneasy.

"No, I don't," Michel answers. "Sorry."

The man assumes Michel would know the answer because her service dog, an English black Labrador named Lizzy, is walking at her side.

Jaime Dunaway / AP

A midstate county may be the first in the state to use an in-house DNA testing device to aid investigations.

The Cumberland County District Attorney's office is not alone in using rapid DNA testing in criminal investigations, but it is one of the first to purchase an instrument to let them do the test in the office.

District Attorney Skip Ebert said it could dramatically increase the number of suspects identified each year.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

 


On a sunny Saturday afternoon, a group of yoga instructors gathered at BYS Yoga’s third-floor studio, with big windows overlooking Carson Street. These yogis were the students, and they were there to learn a non-coercive instruction style, called trauma-informed yoga.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Labor organizers demonstrated outside UPMC headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday to highlight two August rulings by the National Labor Relations Board that found the state’s largest hospital system violated workers’ rights.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP

A former Pennsylvania doctor has pleaded guilty to felony charges after officials say he filled 332 prescriptions for Hydrocodone medications he wrote in family members' names.

The state attorney general's office announced Tuesday that 65-year-old Ralph Capone of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, had pleaded guilty to fraud, forgery, identity theft and felony charges related to the prescriptions.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

A scientist who warned about the environmental threat of microbeads is one of six people being honored with $250,000 cash awards from the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Family Foundation.

The annual Heinz Awards recognize achievement in the arts, public policy, the economy and other areas. The recipients of the 23rd annual awards were announced Tuesday.

Molly Riley / AP

Children waiting for a liver transplant are at a disadvantage when they're in competition with adults, according to a new study led by the University of Pittsburgh.

Berlyn Brixner / Los Alamos National Laboratory

The Anthropocene isn’t officially recognized as a geological epoch, but some scientists believe it’s necessary to mark the ways that humans have affected Earth’s geology and ecosystems -- starting with the Great Acceleration prompted by a nuclear blast test in New Mexico in 1945.

Brett Sholtis / WITF

A proposed bill that would require insurers to pay for telemedicine services is drawing widespread support from health care providers and opposition from some in the health insurance industry.

"Telemedicine" is a term for the use of smart phones, laptops and other devices, paired with health care apps, to connect patients with doctors.

The idea is that instead of trying to book an appointment with a primary care provider, or rush to the emergency room, people can talk with a physician by video chat, phone call or instant message.

Tom Crane / Wikimedia Commons

study from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital has found success in a new approach to prevent further memory loss in older African-Americans. It’s not a pharmaceutical treatment — in fact, no medications are involved at all. Instead, it’s behavioral.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

A clean needle exchange that provides free syringes to drug users could soon open in the Carrick neighborhood, making it the first needle exchange in the southern part of the city.

Matt Rourke / AP

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner says he'd sue the makers of prescription painkillers to recoup Pennsylvania's cost of dealing with opioid-related addiction.

Jeff Chiu / AP

New research from Duquesne University finds when a patient requests a high dose prescription for a certain epilepsy medication, it could be a warning sign of illicit drug use.

Gerald Herbert / AP

State Rep. Dan Frankel and state Sen. Jay Costa, both Democrats from Allegheny County, are calling on their fellow lawmakers to pass bills that would close exemptions to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. The law was passed 10 years ago and bans people from smoking tobacco in most esetablishments.

However, the law does not apply to some bars and casinos, and Frankel said it's time that changed.

"We've given the law a decade to work, and we know it does," Frankel said. "Now it deserves to work for absolutely everybody in Pennsylvania."

UPMC

Doctors often ask patients to rank their pain on a scale of one to 10, and responses inform prescriptions, diagnoses and help physicians monitor progress. But University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Charles Jonassaint says this isn't a very effective way for doctors and patients to communicate, because there are different types of pain and not everyone has the same tolerance for pain.

Carnegie Mellon University

The dean of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science is leaving higher ed at the end of the year to lead Google Cloud AI.

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