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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Pitt Receives $2.75 Million To Help Prevent Spread Of Flu In Public Schools

PITTSBURGH, October 11, 2006 — The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) has been awarded a two-year, $2.75 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions against outbreaks of influenza in schools and homes.

The Pittsburgh Influenza Prevention Project (PIPP) will work to develop a school-based early warning system to identify early cases and outbreaks of influenza. In addition, it will test the effectiveness of simple ways to help reduce the spread of influenza in schools and households with school-aged children. The results of PIPP will be used both in Pittsburgh and around the globe, according to Donald S. Burke, M.D., dean of GSPH and principal investigator on the project.

“This grant will allow us to work with Pittsburgh-area schools to better understand the spread of influenza and to reduce the number and severity of influenza outbreaks in schools and homes. These important lessons will be shared with schools and public health leaders nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Burke, who also is the UPMC-Jonas Salk Professor of Global Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Although the project will be headed by GSPH, additional partners include the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Allegheny County Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The concept for the project comes from CDC’s recent national guidance to schools on improving flu surveillance and outbreak detection, limiting the spread of the disease, working closely with the local health departments to report possible outbreaks and sharing information with other schools so they may be likewise protected.

According to Sam Stebbins, M.D., M.P.H., director of GSPH’s Center for Public Health Preparedness and co-principal investigator of PIPP, “This project will help us learn a tremendous amount about how influenza can be successfully prevented. This is useful information every flu season, but it also will be applicable in the event of a serious pandemic such as might be caused by avian influenza.” Bird flu has killed tens of millions of birds worldwide and infected more than 250 people, more than half of whom died from the virus..

Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, GSPH is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. One of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, GSPH was the first fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with alumni who are among the leaders in their fields of public health. A member of the Association of Schools of Public Health, GSPH currently ranks third among schools of public health in National Institutes of Health funding received. The only school of public health in the nation with a chair in minority health, GSPH is a leader in research related to women’s health, HIV/AIDS and human genetics, among others. For more information about GSPH, visit the GSPH Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu/.

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