Science, Health & Tech

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

DIANE CORDELL / Flickr

UPMC patients can get their flu vaccines starting this week, but unlike previous years, these immunizations were not manufactured with chicken eggs.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Pennsylvanians with insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange will see little or no premium increase next year, according to data compiled by Associated Press.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

*The flush and boil advisory has been lifted as of Saturday, September 8. Residents in Spring Hill are no longer being recommended to take precautionary measures. 

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has announced a precautionary flush and boil order for parts of the Spring Hill neighborhood.

Hospital Planned Near West Shore Signals Renewed Highmark, UPMC Rivalry

Sep 5, 2018
Penn State Health

 

 

Highmark-affiliated Penn State Health is moving forward with plans to build a 108-bed hospital in Cumberland County, across the interstate from UPMC Pinnacle West Shore.

Major Opioid Maker To Pay For Overdose-Antidote Development

Sep 5, 2018
Tony Talbot / AP

A company whose prescription opioid marketing practices are being blamed for sparking the addiction and overdose crisis says it's helping to fund an effort to make a lower-cost overdose antidote.

Kelley McCall / AP

Pennsylvania's statewide prison system remains locked down after dozens of employees at different locations became sick over the past month. Department of Corrections officials believes the staff came into contact with a synthetic cannabinoid.

Entertainment Technology Center / Carnegie Mellon University

A new game developed by Carnegie Mellon University students is helping elementary schoolers understand what life is like for kids on the autism spectrum. 

Carnegie Mellon University

A team of computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a technology that makes run-of-the-mill paper move on its own.

The paper is cut into a shape, such as a flower, and treated with a thin conductor that's either applied by a 3-D printer or painted on. It adds only a half millimeter of thickness. The paper is then folded or bent into a shape and heated in an oven.

At that point, an electrical current, heat, or touch will cause the paper to uncurl; when the stimulus is removed, the paper goes back to its natural curled state.

Efrem Lukatsky / AP

A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researcher has received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a pilot program to help HIV patients manage their chronic pain.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

“We’re still hiring humans” proclaims a billboard situated just east of the 31st Street Bridge near Lawrenceville. On the sign, a coy, Pixar-looking automaton beckons engineers and programmers to apply to nearly a dozen positions at Carnegie Robotics.  

Senate Proposal Aims To Add Funds To Struggling Rural Hospitals

Aug 27, 2018
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A state Senate proposal aims to help struggling rural hospitals by changing the way they get paid.

Report: More Mental Health Services Would Make Schools Better

Aug 27, 2018
Gerald Herbert / AP

A report on safety threats and security concerns in Pennsylvania schools concludes there is a need for better access to mental health services.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*The flush and boil advisory has been lifted as of Sunday, August 26. Residents in Millvale are no longer being recommended to take precautionary measures. 

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has announced a precautionary flush and boil order for part of Millvale.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A program that works to improve health outcomes by providing stable housing is expanding from Allegheny County to other parts of Pennsylvania.

Julio Cortez / AP

Bishop David Zubik said over the course of 30 years, the Pittsburgh Diocese has made changes in how it prevents and responds to accusations of clergy abuse, including psychological screenings of seminarians so as to identify potential issues in men before they enter the priesthood.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Every minute, 1 million plastic bottles fly off store shelves and into the hands of consumers. More than 90 percent of these are not recycled, winding up in landfills or waterways. Thread aims to help reduce the amount of cast away plastic bottles by using them to make fabric.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Similar to infant changing tables, an adult changing table is basically a cot, but one that’s sturdy enough to support several hundred pounds of weight, and can be adjusted for height. Many people may be unaware that these tables even exist, in part because there are so few of them. But they’re necessary.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

In the movie The Martian, actor Matt Damon's character is stranded on Mars. He’s been left for dead during an evacuation from a dust storm. Unable to communicate with his crewmates, Damon's character is forced to survive alone on the planet for more than a year before he's rescued.

Damon's predicament could have been solved much sooner, however, with help from a new self-healing electrical circut developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Integrated Soft Machines Lab.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

At the South Philadelphia high-tech makers’ space NextFab, creators of all types work on projects using laser cutters, robots, and a room full of 3D printers.

Toxins Turning Up In Dozens Of Public Water Systems

Aug 13, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Lauren Woeher wonders if her 16-month-old daughter has been harmed by tap water contaminated with toxic industrial compounds used in products like nonstick cookware, carpets and fast-food wrappers. Henry Betz, at 76, rattles around his house alone at night, thinking about the water his family unknowingly drank for years that was tainted by the same contaminants, and the pancreatic cancers that killed wife Betty Jean and two others in his household.

Mark / Flickr

A new analysis estimates that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana market will rake in $60 million in revenue this year, a number that's expected to quadruple to about $240 million by 2020.

Jim Stauffer / Flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department will spray select areas with pesticide Thursday evening, following recent samples of mosquitos that tested positive for West Nile Virus.

tengrrl / Flickr

The suicide rate among survivors of head and neck cancers is more than four times higher than suicide among the general U.S. population; male survivors of these cancers are six times more likely than females to commit suicide.

Schell Games

High school chemistry lab can be a dangerous place. There’s potential for spilled chemicals, fires and broken glass. A Pittsburgh-developed virtual reality game aims to bring chemistry to life in a safer way.

 

HoloLAB Champions is set up as a vibrant, animated game show. Using two handheld controls, players pour liquid, scoop powder and read measurements – skills useful in a real chemistry lab.

 

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Pennsylvania is one of six states starting a pilot program providing reemployment services to people with a history of opioid use.

Funding comes from a $22 million grant overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly $5 million of which will go to Pennsylvania. The grant will run through the end of June 2019, and be administration by the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging is working to better understand the needs of older LGBTQ residents.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania officials are warning people to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes as testing is underway to confirm the suspected first case of human West Nile virus infection in the state this year.

Asbestos Is Still Killing People. Why Hasn’t The Government Banned It?

Aug 3, 2018
Paul Sancya / AP

Recently, President Trump’s image showed up on the side of a pallet of asbestos. One of the largest producers of asbestos, a Russian company, posted a photo on Facebook, boasting Trump’s claim that asbestos is 100 percent safe. Many environmental and health advocates disagree.

Daveynin / Flickr

A new health insurance rule from the Trump administration is being criticized by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The agency said the policy, issued Wednesday, would jeopardize those who buy health insurance on the individual market. 

Carnegie Mellon University

A study by Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University has found a gene editing technique administered in fetal mice can cure a genetic blood disease before birth. This is the first time this technique has been successful, and it could be tested in humans within a year.

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