A New Year Message

Paula K. Davis, 
Associate Vice-Chancellor
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Schools of the Health Sciences

The end of the semester is upon us. It hasn’t quite been the proverbial “long, strange trip” that was 2020, but it was sufficiently different to make us want to rush it along. We tend to do that – rush past the things we find uncomfortable. We hurry to end conversations that make us feel uncomfortable, too. The result is that we hear, but we don’t really listen. As if in having heard something, we will be compelled to do something – to act or assume responsibility. It feels heavy; we want to avoid it, but we cannot. 

This year has been extraordinarily challenging in that regard. Let us commit, in 2022 and beyond, to really listen to one another. Everyone has had a journey, and everyone has a story. Perhaps we will have a greater chance of meeting in the middle of contentious issues, coming to a place of compromise or understanding another’s position if we slow down and listen. 

I wish you peace and the safety of family and friends in this season.  
HS Story
Dr. Anand Mhatre and the Makerspace Training Program at Community Living Support Services (CLASS)

By Karla Perelstine, M.Ed.
In this edition of the OHSD newsletter, we spotlight Dr. Anand Mhatre, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, his role in human engineering, and the recent Makerspace training program which he developed for individuals with intellectual and/or cognitive disabilities.

Congratulations to Dr. Sylvia Owusu-Ansch, Dr. Noel Zuckerbraun, Dr. Orquidia Torres, and their Career Help Advancement and Achievement Mentorship Program (CHAMP) team for receiving the American Academy of Pediatrics Pathway Innovation Grant. The CHAMP program is a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and 150 Arsenal Middle School students. The middle school students learn from underrepresented in medicine medical students about health career opportunities and pathways. At the same time, the medical students gain one-on-one paired mentoring from faculty and participate in monthly sessions where life-skill topics such as mentoring, wellness, time management, and financial planning are discussed. Currently, there are 20 medical students participating in the program.
Congratulations to Dr. Dan Ding, University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Science and Technology Associate Professor, and Dr. Brad Dicianno, professor and endowed research chair in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for being the principal investigators of a $4.6 million grant awarded to the University of Pittsburgh. This five-year award from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, the federal government’s primary disability research organization, will support "Promoting Mainstream Wireless Inclusion Through Technology Services (PROMISE)". The purpose of PROMISE is to address the multifaceted factors affecting people with disabilities to have access to and make full use of existing wireless technologies. In an interview conducted by the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
Congratulations to former University of Pittsburgh internal medicine chief resident, Dr. Etsemaye Argonafer on her appointment as a White House Fellow. This prestigious honor is given to professionals from diverse backgrounds for one year and provides them with the opportunity to work with White House staff, cabinet secretaries, and other senior government officials. Dr. Argonafer will have the opportunity to expand her work in advancing health equity for all in her fellowship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
David Brent, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Epidemiology, and Clinical and Translational Science and Endowed Chair in Suicidal Studies has been awarded the 2021 American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation Award for his research in depression or suicide. The award recognizes Dr. Brent’s 2020 article “Brief Behavioral Therapy (BBT) for Pediatric Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care: A Follow-up” as the best research paper on depression or suicide published by AACAP in their journal last year. The paper reports on the outcomes of the BBT clinical trial conducted by Dr. Brent. Findings from the study revealed BBT to be a promising intervention in the primary care setting, and that it may be particularly effective for Hispanic patients. 
Dr. Utibe R. Essien, assistant professor of medicine, is the recipient of the 2021 Association of American Medical Colleges Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship. This $25,000 award recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member who demonstrates leadership potential in addressing inequity in medical education and health care; demonstrated efforts in addressing educational, societal, and health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States; and is committed to a career in academic medicine. We congratulate Dr. Essien on his many accomplishments. 
Dr. Tiffany Gary-Webb, associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion within the Public Health School has been named by Provost Ann Cudd as a special assistant for race and the social determinants of equity. In this role, Dr. Gary-Webb will lead the Race & Health Collaboratory. She will work with John Wallace, vice provost for faculty diversity and development, his staff, and the staff of the Center on Race and Social Problems to implement the core components of the Race and Social Determinants of Equity, Health and Well-being Cluster Initiative. This initiative was recently awarded a $250,000 Richard King Mellon Foundation grant which will be used to fund three to five Black faculty-led research projects (collaboratories) which specifically address health disparities; one of these projects is to mitigate regional infant and maternal mortality within the African American community. Funds will also be used to support Black faculty retention efforts. 
Congratulations to Sue Skledar, RPh, MPH, FASHP, Professor and Director of Experiential Learning and Continuing Professional Development at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy on her appointment as Chair of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists Section of Pharmacy Educators Advisory Group on Student Education and Learning Experiences. The advisory group works to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural competence/humility among the pharmacy workforce; advance the well-being and resilience of student pharmacists; promote interprofessional learning experiences; and advocates for the inclusion of student pharmacists in early practice learning experiences.
Congratulations to Dr. Jing Wang, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing alumnus (PhD '10, MSN '10) for being selected as one of ten Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Scholars by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Jing is also the only nurse selected into the 2021 cohort. Dr. Wang indicates that as a Scholar, she will have the opportunity to collaborate with a group of prestigious health care professionals in expanding quality and equitable health care.
40 Under 40
Dr. Taylor Abel
Neurological Surgery
Dr. Utibe R. Essien
General Internal Medicine
Dr. Maya Ragavan
Three assistant professors from the School of Medicine have been named to the 2021 Pittsburgh Magazine's "40 Under 40" list. These three individuals were recognized as representing "the many ways people came together, found new opportunities to make a difference and unearthed creativity they may not have otherwise."

Dr. Abel was recognized by the magazine for developing an epilepsy program that includes a multi-disciplinary clinic for children being evaluated for and recovering from epilepsy surgery. One of his current research projects is investigating social, demographic and geographic barriers to high-level epilepsy care in Western Pennsylvania. Dr. Essien published one of the first articles reporting racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths after the pandemic started. Dr. Ragavan served as a leader with the Pittsburgh Community Vaccine Collaborative, which partnered with local organizations to make sure that marginalized voices weren't being left out of the process of researching and obtaining the vaccine.

Other University of Pittsburgh staff honored by the Pittsburgh Magazine include Shenay Jeffrey, Assistant Director of the Office of PittServes; Anette Nance, Director of Partnerships for Family Support, Office of Child Development; and Monique Smith, Faculty Affairs Manager in the Provost's Office of Faculty, Diversity and Development.
The Pitt Innovation Challenge 2021
The Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) is a program of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute designed to support diverse teams who generate innovative solutions to challenging health problems.
Congratulations to the 2021 PInCh® winners!

$115,000 Awards

  • Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me Family Activity Video Box

Dr. Jacqueline Burgette (School of Dental Medicine)

Dr. Peggy Liu

  • NextGenET - A simplified low-cost-disposable endotracheal tube designed to prevent deadly bacterial infection.

Dr. Garrett Cloyan (resident in the Six-Year Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency Program) 

Dr. Carl Snyderman (School of Medicine, Neurological Surgery)

Ross Beresford

  • Parenting While Black: Intergenerational Innovation - A combination of presentations, activities, and group discussions to promote successful parenting in the face of oppressive factors in the African American context.

Dr. James Huguley

Cecily Davis, MSW

Dr. Elizabeth Miller (School of Medicine, Pediatrics)

Brandon Phillips

$35,000 Awards

  • DouLas-AC - Adapts the training curriculum for advanced cancer to meet Black women in their communities during the arduous journey of metastatic breast cancer care.

Dr. Margaret Rosenzweig (School of Nursing)

Tanisha Bowman, MSW, LSW, APHSW-C, CGCS

Dr. Jaime Eddy

Dr. Robert Arnold (School of Medicine, Internal Medicine)

  • The O2 Cube - A mechanism to bring medical oxygen to rural health facilities in low-resource countries.

Mark Adkins

Jessica Starck

Dr. Kilichan Gurleyik

Alyson Maguire

  • TRIBUTE for Bereavement in Communities of Color - This program will work to train clergy and paraprofessionals to provide and deliver mental health bereavement services within Black communities.

Dr. Channing Moreland, Director, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Wellness Pavilion at the Homewood Community Engagement Center

Dr. Quiana Golphin (School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling)

Dr. Laura Dietz (School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling)

Each of these research projects received an additional $15,000 bonus for helping to address health disparities.
In this WQED production, A Broken System: Health Care Inequity, University of Pittsburgh health sciences faculty and staff join with the local community to raise awareness of health inequities facing Pittsburgh's African American, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ and disabilities communities. Facts and figures are provided. Repercussions for ignoring these inequities are discussed.

Congratulations to Pragyashree Sharma Basyal, Physician Assistant student for being awarded a National Health Service Corps Scholarship. This full-tuition paid scholarship is awarded to students pursuing eligible primary care health professions training. In return, scholars commit to providing primary care health services in health professional shortage areas.
Congratulations to Anna Marie Clark for being presented with The Dick Thornburgh Forum for Disability Service Award. This $5,000 award recognizes a University of Pittsburgh student whose service has made a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Anna Marie has been a lifelong volunteer with Joni and Friends, a disability ministry. She has also produced and participated in video productions that provide resources for people with disabilities and to their supports. Anna Marie's other accomplishments include being elected as the 2021 Occupational Student of the Year and one of only two students chosen this year to participate as a trainee in the University of Pittsburgh LEND (Leadership Development for Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders) program.
Sean Sweat, a University of Pittsburgh second-year MD/PhD candidate was invited to participate in a panel discussion on race, health and wealth at the Smithsonian Institute's first national forum. The forum, "Our Shared Future: Reckoning With Our Racial Past" (30:45 - 49:05) was held virtually on August 26. Sean was asked to participate on the panel after the forum organizers became aware that Sean and eleven of her classmates wrote and took their own Hippocratic oath emphasizing the importance of clinical care and research in creating a more inclusive and just society.
Congratulations to Vivian Villasenor, a 4th-year dental student, on receiving a scholarship from the Hispanic Dental Association. This scholarship is awarded to a student who shows commitment and dedication in improving and serving the oral health of the Hispanic community. Vivian serves as the President of the Hispanic Student Dental Association at Pitt Dental Medicine and is a third place winner in this year's University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute Randall Family Big Idea Competition.
The Long and Winding Road, co-sponsored by the Office of Health Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the College of General Studies, was part of the University of Pittsburgh's 2021 Non-Traditional Week. The program brought together two non-traditional students as well as staff and faculty members from the School of Medicine and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Physician Assistants program who provided best practices and resources to help transition from pre-health studies to professional education. Staff members from the Interprofessional Center for Health Careers were also available to answer questions from the audience.
The Pitt community came together in celebration of Hispanic American Heritage Month at the inaugural Latinx Connect Conference. During the conference, several programs and events were held to recognize and celebrate the Latinx culture. One such program was Latinx Health: Local Lifelines and Liveability sponsored by the Office of Health Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This panel presentation examined the availability and need of health resources for the Latinx community. 
Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic
Hundreds of patients were served at the Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic at the David Lawrence Convention Center in October. This free clinic provides the opportunity for those individuals who do not have insurance or who are underinsured to receive oral health care. Over 1,100 volunteers came out to support this effort including students, staff, and faculty from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences White Coat Ceremonies
November 5, 2021
November 15, 2021
National Human Rights Month

December 1 - World AIDS Day
December 3 - International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 8 - Bodhi Day commemorates the day Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Bhudaism experienced enlightenment.
December 12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico
December 25 - Christmas
December 26 - January 1 - Kwanzaa
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January 16 - World Religion Day
January 18 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday
January 25 - Lunar New Year - Spring Festival - Chinese New Year
January 27 - UN Holocaust Memorial Day "One Day"
January 28 - Mahayana Bhudist New Year
January 7 - School of Dental Medicine Class of 2024 White Coat Ceremony
January 10, 27 - Painless PubMed >>
  • Implementation of a Fetal Infant Mortality Program in Allegheny County: An Initiative towards Achieving Health Equity for All - Dr. Onome Oghifobibi
  • Black Maternal and Fetal Wellness in Pittsburgh - Kathryn Reed 


The Schools of Health Sciences offer information sessions that introduce prospective students to the different academic programs that are offered.
This NPR article outlines the findings of the Black Equity Coalition, a grassroots team of researchers and advocates concerned about addressing COVID-19 in vulnerable populations. 
Dr. Paul Duprex
Jonas Salk Endowed Chair for Vaccine Research 
Director, Center for Vaccine Research
Dr. Paul Duprex and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research are the recipients of the 2021 Carnegie Science Center Chairman’s Award. This award is given only in years where there is an exceptional recipient. It is presented to an individual or an organization that has made outstanding contributions in science, either through exemplary work in one field or through transcendent leadership, commitment, or achievement. The Center has done this through the development of vaccines for infectious agents such as COVID-19 and educating the public on the science behind how infectious diseases spread and how vaccines work.
This COVID research study, offered by Pitt+ Me, is currently open to families with children aged seventeen and under

The Pittsburgh Study: COVID-19 Family Supports Survey