Science, Health & Tech

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

Kerie Trimble

Today is Valentine’s Day, which means your social media feeds are likely flushed with saccharine sentiments from couples who are SUPER IN LOVE. Or are they?

CAROLYN KASTER / AP

A bill introduced by an Allegheny County state representative this week would prohibit smoking in all workplaces in Pennsylvania. The legislation, from Rep. Dan Frankel, would include all bars, casinos and private clubs, which are currently allowed to apply for an exemption from the state Clean Indoor Act.

Civic Mapper

When you flush the toilet in Allegheny County, chances are that the waste ends up at a facility just up the Ohio River from the McKees Rocks Bridge.

To track the waste's path from one's toilet to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, people can use Flush.It.  This interactive map directs users to type in an address that’s within the ALCOSAN service area. After several seconds, a bright turquoise line appears, tracing a flush's route.

Marinus Analytics

An international competition for tech companies making a humanitarian difference has two Pittsburgh-based semifinalists. Marinus Analytics and CleanRobotics are among ten companies still in the running for the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE.

AP Photo/David Goldman

If you’ve noticed more coworkers have been calling in sick with the flu, it’s not just your imagination. Data show nearly twice as many Pennsylvanians have gotten the flu so far this season, compared to this time last year.

However, flu-related fatalities and hospitalizations are not particularly high this year.

That’s because Type B is that strain of influenza that’s been circulating for most of this season. Compared to Type A, the B strain is less deadly.

Brett Sholtis / WITF

When Act 106 was passed into law in October 2018, lawmakers said it would help people with some of the most severe mental illnesses by allowing judges to set up “assisted outpatient treatment” plans.

Terry Chea / AP

As concerns of a global pandemic amplify, some Pittsburgh institutions are taking precautions against the new coronavirus by restricting travel to China.

UPMC Enterprises

On today's program: What UPMC wants from its $1 billion life sciences investment; why small dams are a problem in the Ohio watershed; opening arguments begin in the Wilkinsburg mass shooting trial; and new data details jobs lost to the U.S.-China trade deficit. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

University of Pittsburgh reseachers studying nerve regeneration are seeing promising results in monkey test subjects. Kacey Marra, a professor of plastic surgery and faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, hopes to try the method in humans soon.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

On today's program: The medical community is amending its thoughts on when and how new moms should be cared for; Doors Open Pittsburgh explores the city’s African American history; an expanding program teaches locals how to care for their environment. 

NASA / AP

Two retired satellites will cross paths this evening above Pittsburgh. At around 6:30 p.m., the IRAS telescope and GGSE-4 payload are expected to come within about 40 feet of each other during their orbits. But scientists say it’s unlikely the two will make contact.

Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General / AP

Companies that help Pennsylvanians living with intellectual disabilities failed to report two deaths and thousands of other “critical incidents” in 2015 and 2016, according to an audit by a federal inspector general. The same audit concluded that state officials failed to ensure those companies followed the rules.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security are teaming up to address bias in the region's automated decision making tools. The 22-person Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms was announced Wednesday, and is charged with forming guidelines and best practices for municipal algorithms.

Closed hospital and empty parking lot.
Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

The door to the emergency room at the Ellwood City Medical Center is locked. 

JAKE SAVITZ / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh-based PPG says it has made good on its 2016 pledge to eliminate lead from all products by 2020.

Carnegie Mellon University

In the United States, about a quarter of computer scientists are women. One dozen countries have better representation in the field, a fact that's explored in the book "Cracking the Digital Ceiling," published last month by Cambridge University Press and edited by two Carnegie Mellon University professors.

John Locher / AP

 

On today's program: How President Trump’s trade deal could affect PA; cyber security experts are looking for protection from Iranian attacks; a proposed EPA rule could limit public policy materials; APM’s Molly Wood talks about Pittsburgh’s shot as a tech hub; and a local exhibit explores Andy Warhol's complex relationship with Catholicism.

Charlie Neibergall / AP

A new app aims to enlist Pennsylvania's outdoors enthusiasts in identifying and cataloging invasive species.  

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

New research finds the violence prevention program Coaching Boys into Men is effective in mitigating harmful behavior among middle school students. The initiative trains coaches to speak to athletes about stopping violence against women and girls and has been a part of high school sports since its creation in the mid-2000s.

Jessica Hill / AP

Last year, Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services launched what officials and researchers say is a first-of-its-kind program: a pay-for-performance effort to incentivize hospitals across the state to connect Medicaid patients who visit the emergency room for an opioid overdose with ongoing substance abuse treatment.

NASA

NASA is working to send astronauts to Mars, and one of them might bring along a Terrible Towel.

Facebook Page of Endless Mountains Health Systems

A new fiscal model aimed at keeping rural hospitals solvent is expanding in Pennsylvania, though this global budgeting strategy doesn’t always prevent facilities from operating at a loss.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA News

Air quality activists protested at the City County Building in downtown Pittsburgh, before Friday’s Allegheny County Board of Health meeting, to voice dissatisfaction with the county’s efforts to improve air quality.

Brett Sholtis / WITF

People with intellectual disabilities and those who advocate for them visited the state Capitol this week to oppose a bill to keep two Pennsylvania state centers open.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Several Democratic state senators are trying to convince GOP leaders to hold hearings on a raft of bills to guarantee healthcare to certain Pennsylvanians if the Affordable Care Act is struck down.

Two Firearms Safety Instructors Have A Plan To Prevent Suicides

Jan 7, 2020
Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health

 Most days of the week, Sarah Albrecht works as a doula and childbirth educator, where she’s learned to help women dealing with the stress of pregnancy, the pain of miscarriage and postpartum depression that seems to come out of nowhere.

Brett Sholtis / PA Post

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says his administration will work to improve mental health care in the commonwealth and remove the stigma experienced by many people struggling with mental illness.

KATIE BLACKLEY / 90.5 WESA

People are increasingly turning to technology for ways to improve their lives, from saving money with budgeting apps or counting steps with fitness trackers. For people who need help dozing off, the mindfulness company Headspace offers so-called “sleepcasts,” which aim to help listeners wind down for bed with narrated tours of peaceful landscapes, including Pittsburgh.

Governor Outlines Effort To Bolster Mental Health Services

Jan 2, 2020
Patrick Doyle / 90.5 WESA

A broad effort to improve mental health services and change public perceptions of mental illness was announced Thursday by Pennsylvania' governor.

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.

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