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University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Faculty, Staff Achievements and New Research Funding

PITTSBURGH, February 12, 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 and students. Among those whose work has been acknowledged recently with awards and accolades are the following:

  • Donald S. Burke, M.D., dean of GSPH and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health, was featured in a series of videos produced by the Military Health System to document the work of military medical pioneers. In the videos, Dr. Burke discusses how his experience studying infectious diseases in the Army helped shape his philosophy that infectious disease outbreak research should move away from surveillance and response and toward prediction and prevention. The video can be viewed here.
  • Linda Frank, Ph.D., M.S.N., principal investigator and project director of the Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education and Training Center, has received the Frank Lamendola Achievement Award for Nursing Leadership in HIV Care from the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.  As a nursing professional who combines clinical practice with leadership in policy, education, professional services and scholarly activities, Dr. Frank was recognized for bringing vision, administrative abilities and commitment to the nursing profession. Dr. Frank also is assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology. 
  • Chuck Tomljanovic, GSPH graduate student, was invited to present a class project at the BioHaza-Milan conference in Italy in November 2008.  The conference is supported by the NATO Science of Peace and Security Programme. For his project, Tomljanovic assessed how well the federal government handled a December 2006 crisis involving an uncontrollable U.S. reconnaissance satellite that re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Concern centered around the potential release of 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel used to maneuver the rocket in space.  
  • Jessica Griffin Burke, Ph.D., M.H.A., assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, received a grant of $203,000 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for her study on patterns of substance use among HIV positive and negative men.
  • Yue Chen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, received a Grand Challenge Exploration Grant of $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an oral vaccine against HIV using Clostridium perfringens bacteria as a delivery strategy. The proposed vaccine strategy holds great promise against HIV due to safety, low production cost and ease of administration.
  • Elizabeth Gettig, M.S., associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics, received the Marjorie Guthrie Award from the Huntington’s Disease Society of America in recognition of her outstanding service to the Huntington’s disease community.  The award is named in honor of Marjorie Guthrie, wife of Woody Guthrie and an advocate of research and funding for the disease.
  • Donald S. Burke, M.D., dean of GSPH and UPMC-Jonas Salk Chair of Global Health, Bernard Goldstein, M.D., professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, and Judith Lave, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, were designated National Associates of the National Research Council of the National Academies in honor of their extraordinary service to the National Research Council in its role as adviser to the nation on science, engineering and health.
  • The Department of Epidemiology at GPSH was re-designated as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Disease Monitoring, Telecommunications and the Molecular Epidemiology of Diabetes Mellitus. 

Founded in 1948, 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. 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. 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 environmental and occupational health. 

For more information about GSPH, visit the school’s Web site at  

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