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University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Faculty, Alumni Achievements

PITTSBURGH, April 27, 2009 — The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) is often recognized by academic and scientific societies and other organizations for the significant achievements and exceptional leadership of its faculty, staff, students and alumni. Among those whose work has been acknowledged recently with awards and accolades are the following:

  • Thomas M. Priselac, M.P.H, GSPH alumnus, has assumed the position of chairman of the American Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees, making him the top elected official of the largest hospital and health system association in the U.S. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, is the second alumnus of GSPH to hold the position and follows David A. Reed, M.P.H., who served as chairman in 1990. Priselac will hold the position until 2010.
  • Renee Walker, M.P.H., doctoral candidate at GSPH, was selected for the 2009 Kellogg Health Scholars Program, a postdoctoral fellowship program dedicated to reducing and eliminating health disparities. The focus of Walker’s research is on the residential neighborhood as a determinant of health, with particular focus on the neighborhood food environment and its implications for obesity.
  • Sandra Quinn, Ph.D., associate dean for student affairs and education and associate professor, was the communications instructor for the Senior Crisis Management Seminar at the American University in February. The seminar, held in partnership with the U.S. State Department, provides crisis management training to senior officials from foreign governments to prepare them for catastrophes as diverse as terrorist attacks and natural disasters. 
  • Felicia Wu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, is a member of a team of researchers from around the world who received a $2.7 million Gates Foundation grant to assess aflatoxin interventions in Mali, Kenya and Uganda. Aflatoxin, produced by a food-borne fungus, is a very potent natural liver carcinogen. It is found in corn, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds. Dr. Wu will be the lead investigator for a project focused on assessing the interventions’ cost-effectiveness and feasibility. 
  • Constance Bayles, Ph.D., program director for the Center for Healthy Aging (CHA), and Joe Robare, Ph.D., past member of the CHA, recently presented the results of a program to train older adults to be health ambassadors in their communities at the 20th Annual National Conference on Chronic Disease Prevention & Control in Washington, D.C. They found that health ambassadors trained as part of the “10 Keys to Healthy Aging” program maintained or improved their adherence to basic health promotion principles more than a year later. 
  • Conrad Dan Volz, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., associate professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, received the James L. Craig Award for Teaching Excellence. The award, which consists of a plaque and $5,000 prize, was established through the generosity of GSPH alumnus James Craig, M.D., M.P.H., to recognize school faculty who have excelled in teaching and mentoring students.
  • Four GSPH researchers recently were awarded $20,000 as part of the school’s Computational and Systems Models in Public Health pilot grant program. The program was initiated in 2008 by Dean Donald S. Burke, M.D.  2009 Awardees and their projects include:
    • Stephanie R. Land, Ph.D., research associate professor, Department of Biostatistics, for “Social Networks and Tobacco Use in First-Year College Students;”
    • Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health & Social Justice and director, Center for Minority Health, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, for “Developing an Agent-Based Model to Assess Racial Differences in Medical Discrimination, Social Support, and Trust;”
    • Janice C. Zgibor, R.Ph., Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology; director of evaluation, University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute, for “Application of the Archimedes Model to Estimate Clinical Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness in Diabetes Treatment and Prevention Research;” and
    • Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Health Policy & Management, for “Fill the Gap: Modeling Total Medicare Spending Among the Elderly.” 

Founded in 1948 and fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of 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. A member of the Association of Schools of Public Health, GSPH currently ranks fourth among schools of public health in National Institutes of Health funding. 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   

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