Science, Health & Tech

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

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

In a matter of years, people with chronic conditions may not have to choose between pain relief and risking addiction.

Mary Altaffer / AP

The number of overdose deaths in the southwestern Pennsylvania region fell by 41 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to a new report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Sean Spencer / 90.5 WESA

Students protested at Carnegie Mellon University Wednesday against a campus recruitment visit by software company Palantir. The business contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and its software has been used to aid the agency in workplace deportation raids. 

Brett Sholtis / WITF

The sale of Roundtop Mountain Resort in York County and 16 other ski resorts leaves the Sackler family, who made billions selling prescription opioids, to reap a profit amid increasing scrutiny over the family’s assets. The ski resort sale came eight days after Sackler family-owned Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Inside the Star Lab for sensor development at the University of Pittsburgh, professor Alexander Star holds a black box, about the size of a remote control. It's a breathalyzer developed to measure tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana.

'Gross': Lanternflies Causing Big Bug Problem For Some

Sep 26, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

In the Great Spotted Lanternfly War, Pennsylvania's citizen-soldiers are fighting back with fly swatters and vacuums, dish soap and sticky tape. They're stomping and spraying and zapping and bragging about their kills on social media. "DESTROY THEM," a propaganda poster urges. "Die, die, die, spotted lanternfly," a balladeer sings.

Sam's Club To Offer Health Care Packages In Pennsylvania, 2 Other States

Sep 26, 2019
Sarah Bentham / AP

Walmart's Sam's Club is teaming up with several health care companies to offer discounts on everyday care its customers might delay or skip because of the cost.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Children aren’t always taught how to cope with stress, and their experience can look very different from what adults find stressful.

Rick Bowmer / AP

A rare virus that can lead to serious neurological problems or death in humans has been found in three Pennsylvania counties. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

A rare, potentially deadly virus transmitted by mosquitoes has been confirmed in three Pennsylvania counties.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Motorists were inconvenienced for months last year, when a section of Route 30 near East Pittsburgh was closed due to a landslide.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Sammia Eutsey’s son, Chadd Jr., was born 10 weeks early, due in part to her pre-eclampsia, a condition related to high blood pressure.

'Once You Have It, You Need It': Opioid Epidemic Still Rages

Sep 16, 2019
John Minchillo / AP

As lawyers exchange mountains of paper and dicker over the details of a settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, Americans are dying from opioids by the tens of thousands in an epidemic that grinds on in state after state, community after community, with no end in sight.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hepatitis A is on the rise, but the Allegheny County Health Department says it could be worse.

There have been 22 cases of the disease since January 2018, the highest number in over a decade.  Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that causes inflammation. 

Nam Y. Huh / AP

Seventeen people across the state are believed to have “lung diseases associated with vaping,” according to the state Department of Health.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Summer is winding down, which means pumpkin spice lattes are popping up in coffee shops and Halloween decorations are appearing on store shelves.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Local financial technology company Honeycomb Credit is encouraging people to invest in Pittsburgh businesses through crowdfunding, a departure from donation-based sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania will receive another $75 million in federal aid to fight the opioid-addiction crisis, money that Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says will help with treatment, prevention and education.

Judge Grills U.S. Attorney Who Opposes Injection Site Plan

Sep 6, 2019
Matt Rourke / AP

A federal judge in Philadelphia grilled the city's top federal prosecutor Thursday over his opposition to a plan to open the nation's first supervised injection site to address the opioid crisis.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain called the goal of reducing overdose deaths "laudable," but accused organizers of "hubris" for thinking they can ignore the law.

"I think the hubris here is pretty astonishing. They're saying we know better, we're going to do it anyway," McSwain, a President Trump appointee, argued.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and for those who need a transplant, the wait list is long. A Carnegie Mellon University bioengineering lab is on its way to achieveing a lofty goal: 3-D printing the human heart.

Bebeto Matthews / AP

Duquesne University is planning to admit its first class of osteopathic medical students in the fall of 2023. The field is growing; according to the American Osteopathic Association, about one in four medical students attends an osteopathic school instead of a traditional, allopathic medical school.

Adam Tunnard / 90.5 WESA

The U.S. Army is developing data surveillance and analysis technology in Pittsburgh, though an offshoot of the controversial Department of Defense initiative Project Maven within Carnegie Mellon University’s Army AI Task Force. 

Damian Dovarganes / AP

State health authorities are warning the public about possible measles exposure at a number of Pennsylvania locations over the past week.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says people may have been exposed to measles between Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 in York County and Hershey.

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The rate of fatalities caused by the opioid epidemic has begun to wane, according to both national and local data.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania officials are hoping to lower the risk of lead poisoning through mandated blood testing for children and other measures.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is backing legislation to require testing that meets federal guidelines, and is rolling out other strategies to address the problem.

The administration is working on ways for regional response teams to care for children with dangerous amounts of lead in their system.

Parents Petition Pittsburgh Public Schools To Stop Herbicide Spraying

Aug 29, 2019
Andy Kubis / Allegheny Front

A common but controversial herbicide is used on school grounds across Pennsylvania to kill weeds. But a group of concerned parents and others in Pittsburgh are raising questions about its use. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh's medical community creates a lot of data, and embedded within that data are potential answers to important questions. The Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance -- a collaboration of UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University -- sifts through that data. This month, they announced a new sponsor in that effort: Amazon's computing subsidiary. 

Sarah Boden / WESA

People were given free naloxone, the medication that can revive someone from an opioid overdose, at an event at the City County building in downtown Pittsburgh, Tuesday afternoon. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

It's a truth we can't escape: human beings have biases, and those biases can seep into computer programs and algorithms based on who is creating them.

Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health

Health systems are known more for competition than working together, but when it comes to treating opioid addiction, that may be changing. 

Industry advocacy group Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania is working to get hospitals across the state to share best practices on treating opioid use disorder.