Science, Health & Tech

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

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The organization that represents Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry says the City of Pittsburgh is rushing implementation of a paid sick leave ordinance.

PA Expands New Program To Keep Rural Hospitals Open

Dec 31, 2019
Google Maps

Eight additional hospitals across Pennsylvania will join the new Rural Health Model launched by the Governor’s Office and the state’s Department of Health. The model started off in early 2019 with five rural hospitals, mostly in the northeastern part of the state, and four private insurers, plus Medicaid.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Some Giant Eagle grocery stores are employing a unique method for monitoring inventory: a shelf-scanning robot named Tally. The slender, white, five-foot-tall machine, developed by San Francisco-based Simbe Robotics, has been gliding the aisles of the Aspinwall Giant Eagle for nearly a year now.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvanians working in the behavioral health care field have the chance to receive money from the state to pay off student loan debt.

Glenn Melvin / University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Jariatu Stallone remembers the impact the 2014 Ebola outbreak had on her home country of Sierra Leone.

“I witnessed a lot back there,” Stallone said. “The whole Ebola incident and how we sort of lack doctors back home.”

John Altdorfer / Point Park University

Point Park University won’t have to construct a playing field before its newest varsity sports team competes next fall. It will, however, have to invest in computers, video game consoles, headphones and other equipment.

Richard Vogel / AP

Proponents of marijuana legalization for recreational use often argue that cannabis is a far healthier option than alcohol and tobacco, and there is some data to back this up

David Eggert / AP

Like most people, Brett Stanford likes to unwind after work. Often he smokes cannabis, sometimes while watching the PBS period-drama “Downton Abbey.”

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Nancy Black has a host of health problems, including arthritis, fibromyalgia and asthma, and she used to have to take opioids every 12 hours for her pain. However, in 2018 she decided to stop taking her medication, which included OxyContin, and to use medical marijuana instead. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Telecommunications companies are putting a lot of energy into promoting 5G, the wireless service purported to be faster and better than what customers have ever had before. 

ROBERT PFEIL / AP

Western Pennsylvania is seeing more flu cases than what’s usually seen at this point during the season, according to state Department of Health data.

So far, Allegheny County is reporting that 1,223 people have gotten the flu. In comparison, only 137 people in the more populous Philidelphia County have reported coming down with the virus.

Eric Gay / AP

 

On today's program: PA’s Health Secretary considers how medical cannabis could expand; a pain medicine specialist is concerned about how quickly the program has already expanded; dispensary pharmacists have a unique job; and how can differing state and federal cannabis laws co-exist?   

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Markita Wilburn says cannabis got her through pharmacy school.

GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

A new state report indicates that Pennsylvanians are breathing cleaner air. However, one big exception includes residents living near U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works facility in Allegheny County.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A student attending Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics offer crisis care, substance and mental health treatment, and other crucial support in Pennsylvania and other states.

Jessica Pachuta / Ethics MVP

Discussions about ethics in technology have made headlines this year, with large companies including Facebook and Google battling scandals over data protection and privacy.

Matt Rourke / AP

A bill that requires health insurers to cover telemedicine services is facing opposition after Republicans added an amendment that in part bans doctors from prescribing an abortion drug.

Alfonzo Perez / AP

Biotechnology company BioHybrid Solutions, based in Harmar, Pa., is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense on a countermeasure for chemical agents, such as sarin gas. The $30 million contract will last for five years.

Allvision

The city of Pittsburgh and East Liberty-based startup Allvision IO are embarking on a mission to track down the city’s streetlights.

 

The city's PGH Lab program, a startup incubator, recently named Allvision as a member of its latest cohort. The team will be working with the Department of Innovation and Performance to create a database of the city’s streetlights for Pittsburgh's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, or DOMI.

 

Brett Sholtis / WITF

With the unveiling of the 2020 state budget still a few months away, groups that provide mental health and intellectual disabilities services are lobbying for an additional $84 million in funding.

Gerald Herbert / AP

A newly-enacted law is making the commonwealth one of 19 states with higher legal tobacco purchase ages.

Courtesy of The Renfrew Center / Twitter

On today's program: Eating disorders uniquely affect women over age 40; mentorship at Brashear came from an unexpected place; what it will take for lawmakers to consider raising the state minimum wage; and why A+ Schools changed its annual report to focus on pockets of success.

Jessica Kourkounis / AP

Pennsylvania’s new, state-run health ​insurance exchange is getting rolling ahead of its launch in 2021.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Pennsylvanians are paying a bit more next year for health insurance purchased on the federal exchange, even though premiums for the rest the country have slightly dropped.

Women in Tech PGH

Women make up about one-quarter of technology workers in the U.S., and women of color are underrepresented to an even greater degree. An online community, Women in Tech PGH, aims to support and uplift women working in tech by compiling information about job opportunities, resources and events all in one place.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Machine learning is an integral part of Pittsburgh's tech economy, thanks to Carnegie Mellon University's position as one of the nation's foremost research centers on the topic. That's enticed tech giants such as Google and Uber to set up shop in the Steel City. 

Pennsylvania To Fund Research Into Fracking Health Impacts

Nov 22, 2019
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday his administration will spend $3 million on a pair of studies to explore the potential health impacts of the natural gas industry, taking action after months of impassioned pleas by the families of pediatric cancer patients who live in the most heavily drilled region of the state.

MATT ROURKE / AP

As baby boomers age, more Americans may find themselves caring for family members with disabilities.

A new research institute in Pittsburgh, called the National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support, will focus on the unique challenges of caregiving. The center is a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.

On Tuesday, 16 universities across the United States and United Kingdom held #NoTechforICE events, urging the company Palantir to drop a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

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