Archived Newsletter:  July 2017

Feature Articles

Dr. Jane Liebschutz appointed Division Chief, General Internal Medicine

Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH, FACP

On September 1, 2017, Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH, FACP, will be appointed to the position of Division Chief, General Internal Medicine. Dr. Liebschutz is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine and of Social and Behavioral Medicine at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Her appointment concludes an exhaustive search and thorough review of a deep and talented pool of internal and external candidates by the Search Committee, of which Dr. Wishwa Kapoor was an integral member. Dr. Kapoor’s legacy in building one of the most respected General Internal Medicine Divisions in the U.S. is without question, and Dr. Liebschutz will have the ideal platform and support structure to lead the Division into emerging areas of opportunity, including her own research passion to develop interventions to combat the current crisis in opioid use disorders.

More broadly Dr. Liebschutz’s research focuses on substance use, violence, and mental health within the practice of general medical care. Earlier in her career, she studied violence and its health impacts—knowledge that she uses in her current work on substance abuse disorders. Dr. Liebschutz has conducted numerous observation and intervention studies, including research on opioid prescribing for chronic pain in primary care. She has also directed randomized trials to study the treatment of opioid and injection drug use disorders in hospitalized patients. Dr. Liebschutz has a sustained history of funding, including current R01 funding to study “Implementing opioid risk reduction strategies into primary care practice.”

Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, Health Resources and Services Administration, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. She has been a frequent speaker at national and international conferences held by, among others, the Society of General Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the College on Problems of Drug Dependency, and the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network. Her topics have ranged from intimate partner violence and chronic pain management to work-life integration.

Dr. Liebschutz also currently serves as PI on a T32 training award for post-doctoral training of primary care physicians, and has an impressive track record of mentoring undergraduates, medical students, residents, and fellows, many of whom have received faculty appointments at Boston University School of Medicine and at other academic medical centers across the nation. Her skills and accomplishments in career development will be well-served in a Division that prides itself on clinical research and education training.

Dr. Liebschutz earned her Medical Degree from Harvard Medical School in 1991 and subsequently trained in internal medicine during her residency at Boston City Hospital. From 1995 to 1998, she undertook a preventive medicine residency and a general medicine fellowship, both at Boston University Medical Center. Upon completion of those programs, Boston University School of Medicine appointed her as an Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Also in 1998, Dr. Liebschutz earned an MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics from Boston University School of Public Health, which named her an Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2005. Two years later, both the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health promoted Dr. Liebschutz to her current positions of Associate Professor in both schools.

Dr. Liebschutz holds key administrative positions within the Boston University School of Medicine as well as Boston Medical Center. Among them are Associate Chief, Section of General Internal Medicine; Director, Combined Family Medicine/General Internal Medicine/General Pediatrics Academic Fellowship Program; and Director, General Internal Medicine Fellowship Program. She also served as the Wellness Director for the Medical-Dental staff from 2011 to 2016 and as Chair, Faculty Development and Diversity Committee in the Department of Medicine from 2011 to 2015.

Dr. Liebschutz has articulated a vision of leadership that encompasses four core values: interdisciplinary collaboration, a culture of innovation, support for the wellbeing of the faculty, and leadership transparency and accountability. The breadth of her research, education, and leadership skills will be key to the continued growth and development of the Department of Medicine’s largest Division.

Brian Primack Named Dean of Honors College

Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, MS, EdM, has been named the Bernice L. and Morton S. Lerner Chair and Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s University Honors College (UHC). Dr. Primack is currently the Leo H. Criep Endowed Chair in Patient Care in Pitt’s School of Medicine, and a professor of medicine, pediatrics, and clinical and translational science, as well as assistant vice chancellor for research on health and society in the University’s schools of the health sciences.

Dr. Primack is an interdisciplinary scholar and researcher with broad research interests ranging from media messaging and community engagement to clinical medicine and public health. Regarding Dr. Primack’s new role, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson said, “Under Dr. Primack’s leadership, I am confident that the University Honors College will continue to serve as the center of gravity for our most academically engaged and curious undergraduate students and as a hub of intellectual activity for our entire University community. His broad and inclusive vision is well-matched to our aspirations for the UHC and the University.” Dr. Primack’s deanship began on July 1, 2017.

Robert Arnold Wins Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics

Robert M. Arnold, MD, is the recipient of the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics, presented every two years by the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine to those who demonstrate the highest standards in the medical or professional ethics fields. Dr. Arnold received the award in June while presenting at their Pediatric Grand Rounds.

SGIM Awards

Alda Marie Gonzaga, MD, MS, received the Mid-Career Education Mentorship Award at the Society of General Internal Medicine 2017 Annual Meeting, held from April 19th through 22nd in Washington, DC. This award recognizes an outstanding mid-career educator nationally who is actively engaged in education, research and mentorship of junior clinician educators. Since receiving a faculty appointment in 2006, Dr. Gonzaga has demonstrated a sincere dedication to mentorship, offering support to those at any stage of their career—including medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty. As director of the internal medicine-pediatrics residency program, Dr. Gonzaga fosters a familial ethos and a supportive environment in her program. She exhibits a passion for medical education, and strives to foster that same love in her trainees.

Also at SGIM 2017, Yael Schenker, MD, MS, received the Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year award. This award recognizes a junior investigator nationally whose early career achievements and overall body of works to date have had a national impact on generalist research. Dr. Schenker, a tenure-track assistant professor in the Division’s Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, is an extremely motivated and productive junior investigator doing creative work that has generated international attention. Her timely and innovative palliative care research has already made a significant contribution to our understanding of how to improve access and quality of care for seriously-ill patients. Moreover, her interest in integrating palliative care as part of general medical care is motivated by a true dedication to her patients and a clear vision for the future.

Successful Resident Recruitment

Congratulations to this year’s tremendous residency recruitment team, including the Office of Medical Education personnel and the faculty, chief residents, and housestaff members, who contributed to the recruitment effort.

Program leaders included Mark T. Gladwin, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine; Wishwa Kapoor, MD, MPH, Division Chief for Internal Medicine; Melissa McNeil, vice chair for education; Jennifer Corbelli, MD, director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside; Alda Maria Gonzaga, MD, MS, director of the Medicine-Pediatrics Training Program at UPMC Montefiore; and Julie McCausland, MD, MS, director of the Transitional Year Program at UPMC Montefiore.

We are especially grateful for the team effort that took place to make this one of the most successful recruitment seasons ever. With the continuation of the Shadyside program merging with the UPMC Montefiore/Presbyterian program, the recruitment efforts were again combined:

  • The Categorical Program had 4,538 applicants, of whom 439 were interviewed, and 52 were matched for the Categorical program and 8 for the Preliminary Year.
  • The Medicine-Pediatrics Training Program had 255 applicants, of whom 63 were interviewed and 4 were matched.
  • The Transitional Year Program had over 1,000 applicants, 6 were matched into the Traditional Transitional Year Program, 2 were matched into the PM&R Track within the Transitional Year Program, 2 were matched into the Radiology Track within the Transitional Year Program adding up to a total incoming class of 10 Transitional Year Residents.
Departmental Changes

After many years of tremendous VA leadership, Dr. Melissa McNeil is stepping down from her role as Medical Director of the VAPHS Women’s Health Program. Under her leadership, the program was twice designated a National Center of Excellence, and developed into one of the nation’s best women’s health programs, with one of the largest and most successful fellowships in the country. Dr. McNeil will continue to provide guidance to the program as the Director of the Women’s Health Fellowship Program.

Stepping into the role of Medical Director is Dr. Deborah DiNardo, who has been heavily involved in the Women’s Health Program since she joined the General Internal Medicine group at the VA in 2013. Dr. DiNardo is the Pittsburgh site co-leader for the National VA Women’s Health Practice-Based Research Network. She developed and implemented a QI intervention for care navigation of women with cancer at the VAPHS, and is PI on a grant from the Veterans Research Foundation to study the results. She developed and nationally disseminated a workshop on breast cancer risk assessment for which she won the Society of General Internal Medicine’s Junior Faculty Education Award in 2016—her second consecutive year of being honored with that award. She is currently mentoring two of our Women’s Health Fellows in their Master’s research projects. Since 2013 she has been a faculty instructor at the National VA Women’s Health Mini-residency training courses every year, as well as a faculty instructor for the VA Pittsburgh Women’s Health Update CME courses twice each year.

Janel Hanmer, MD, PhD, will be taking on the role of Medical Director of the UPMC Patient Reported Outcomes Center, which provides UPMC with content expertise in the measurement, integration, and interpretation of Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs). She will continue in her current capacity as Assistant Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science in the Division of General Internal Medicine.

Dr. Hanmer is uniquely positioned to lead the center: her PhD is in the area of Population Health Science with a focus in health-related quality of life measurement, particularly health utility measurement. She also brings clinical experience as an active hospitalist at UPMC Montefiore to her new role. Her more recent work, supported by a KL2 award, has involved working directly with measures in the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS), concentrating specifically on developing a new preference-based summary score. Dr. Hanmer was also appointed to the editorial board of Medical Decision Making last year.

Kristian Feterik, MD, MBA, will be taking a new role in Clinical Informatics. Dr. Feterik is currently the Assistant Director of eRecord for the Information Services Division and an Associate Medical Director for Clinical Documentation Improvement. His role is continuing to expand with multiple activities involving Cerner EHR, both here and at other UPMC hospitals. He is also involved in areas such as direct secure messaging, interoperability, meaningful use, electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) and existing EHR system optimization. Due to his increased responsibilities he will be stepping down as the Clinical Director of Hospital Medicine. Franziska Jovin, MD, will serve as the Interim Clinical Director of Hospital Medicine.

Dr. Feterik completed his MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts in 2011, and became board certified in December 2016 as a subspecialist in Clinical Informatics by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Just this February, Dr. Feterik became certified in Health Information Technology: Healthcare Data Analytics from the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology of Oregon Health & Science University.

Dio Kavalieratos, PhD, was appointed as the Associate Director of Palliative Care Research within the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics. Dr. Kavalieratos will work with the Director of Palliative Care Research, Dr. Yael Schenker, to enhance the conduct of cutting edge, policy- and practice-relevant research to improve the lives of patients with serious illness and their families. In this new role, Dr. Kavalieratos will serve as a liaison between the Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics and the University’s various graduate and professional schools, as well as national partners, to build a pipeline of junior scientists in palliative care research. He will also serve in a newly created role as Director of Implementation Research within the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute. Dr. Kavalieratos also joined the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the VA as a qualitative methodologist.

Dr. Kavalieratos is a health services researcher who earned his PhD in Health Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine in 2014.

Faculty Selected for Pittsburgh Magazine's 2017 Top Doctors

Congratulations to the following physicians from the division who were included in Pittsburgh Magazine’s list of “Pittsburgh’s Best Doctors in 2017” by Best Doctors, Inc.


Robert Arnold, MD Lori Bigi, MD
Michael Elnicki, MD Michael Fine, MD
Peggy Hasley, MD Erika Hoffman, MD
Franziska Jovin, MD Wishwa Kapoor, MD
William Levin, MD Natalia Morone, MD
Senior Resident Dinner and Awards 2016-2017

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Medicine Senior Resident Dinner was held at the University Club on June 6, 2017.

Professional Recognition


Thomas Radomski, MD, MS, received the Health Services/Clinical Epidemiology Junior Faculty Research Award at this year’s Department of Medicine Research Day. Dr. Radomski was also a finalist for the Milton W. Hamolsky Junior Faculty Award for most outstanding research abstract at this year’s National Meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

Marie Norman, PhD, was awarded the Innovation in Education Award from the University of Pittsburgh’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence.

Sarah Merriam, MD, MS, was the recipient of the Poster Award in Medical Education at the 15th Annual Department of Medicine Research Day for her project, “Video observation with guided reflection: A novel method for continuing teaching education.” Dr. Merriam was also the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Thesis Award in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Clinical Research Education.

Jill Allenbaugh, MD, GIM ACES Fellow was awarded the Frank Kroboth Travel Award for best oral presentation at the University of Pittsburgh GME research day. She is mentored by Jennifer Corbelli, MD, MS, and Carla Spagnoletti, MD, MS.

John Blosnich, PhD, MPH, was recognized with a Federal Executive Board Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science. Dr. Blosnich received the Silver Award for his leadership and service in identifying and addressing health issues that are specific to LGBT Veterans. In April, Dr. Blosnich was invited by the national LGBT Health Program in the VA Healthcare System to attend a curriculum development planning meeting for an Office of Rural Health initiative to provide specialty care consultation, clinical training, and clinical support from specialty care teams to rural primary care providers using video teleconferencing equipment.

Gaetan Sgro, MD, was voted by the medical school class of 2017 as the recipient of the prestigious Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Faculty Award presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. This award is given to a member of the faculty who serves as an important role model for humanistic behavior. The award was presented at a ceremony on May 19, 2017.

Kristian Feterik, MD, was selected for the Alpha Omega Alpha Faculty Award by the Pittsburgh Alpha Omega Alpha Society class of 2017. This award is given to two faculty members annually who consistently go above and beyond in their role as a medical educator in setting an example for patient care. The induction for this award occurred on April 25, 2017.

Gary Tabas, MD, was awarded Mastership in the American College of Physicians (ACP) at the ACP National Meeting in San Diego, CA, March 30, 2017.

Larissa Myaskovsky, PhD, received the Philip Troen, MD, Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award, presented to a Scholarly Research Project mentor of a graduating Pitt Med student in recognition for outstanding mentoring over the course of the project.

Eric Anish, MD, received a Special Recognition Award for Dedication and Commitment to Quality. This awarded came from the UPMC Shadyside Medical Staff and was presented at a ceremony at the Fox Chapel Golf Club on June 12, 2017.

Professional Members and Committees

Galen Switzer, PhD, was appointed as a voting member of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Institutional Review Board; his primary focus in this role will be on the review of expedited proposals.

Leslie Hausmann, PhD, was appointed to the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Research Scientific Evaluation Committee.

Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, was appointed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs.

Michael J. Fine, MD, MSc, was recognized by the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System for completing 20 years of VA service.

Media and Communications

Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, published an op-ed piece in the Mar 8 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “An unhealthy risk: Women would be disproportionately harmed by a repeal of Obamacare.”

Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, was interviewed for a February 7 National Public Radio features story about negotiating for the price of prescription drugs for Medicare patients: “White House Says Medicare Should Leverage Its Buying Power To Pull Down Drug Prices.” Dr. Gellad also wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on June 15: “Medicare Could Learn a Thing or Two from the VA.”

Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, and C. Bernie Good, MD, MPH, were co-authors on a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrating that among Veterans with dementia, those who use both VA and Medicare have increased rates of potentially unsafe medication prescribing. An accompanying editorial noted that it could “serve as the basis for an entire medical school course on health policy” and “has far-reaching implications for health care system design, medication prescribing, and daily clinical practice, particularly for the care of patients with chronic disease.” The manuscript generated substantial national media attention from the likes of Fox News, Yahoo, and others.

Conferences Panel Discussions, Oral and Poster Presentation

Rebecca Mancoll, MD, gave a presentation at the 5th Annual Survivorship Conference entitled
Health Maintenance for Survivors,” at the Herberman Conference Center, Pittsburgh, PA, March 11, 2017.


Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, was an invited participant at a Capitol Hill Briefing held by the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation and the National Partnership for Women & Families on February 15, 2017. The briefing, “Women’s Health, Innovation, and the Economic Stability of Families,” focused on the importance of ensuring coverage and access to essential health care services for women.


Society Of General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting  |  April 19–22, Washington, DC

The Division was very well represented at this year’s SGIM Annual Meeting, with faculty, fellows, and residents coordinating workshops, presenting “Special Series” lectures, delivering oral presentations, and more. In addition, Alda Maria R. Gonzaga, MD, MS, won the Mid-Career Education Mentorship award, and Yael Schenker received the Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year Award. See a full list of presentations and awards here.


Academic Internal Medicine Week  |  March 19–22, 2017, Baltimore, MD

“Stuck in the Middle With You”: The Chief Resident as Middle Manager
Nicholas Macpherson, MD, Sarah Merriam, MD, Nicholas S. Duca, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Difficult Conversations for the Chief Resident: Making Your Office a Safe Space
Ben Sprague, MD, Sarah Merriam, MD, Alda Maria Gonzaga, MD, Gaetan Sgro, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Chief Negotiator: Skills for the Medicine Department, Not Just the State Department
Christopher D’Avella, MD, Eliana Bonifacino, MD, Andrea Carter, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Shanta Zimmer, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Chiefs
Nicholas S. Duca, MD, Molly Fisher, MD, Jennifer Corbelli, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Beyond the Wards: Resident Engagement in Scholarship during Training
Andrea Carter, MD, Amy Farkas, MD, Alexandra Mieczkowski, MD, Carla Spagnoletti, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

“I’ve Got Your Back”: Supporting Residents in the Face of Microaggressions or Discrimination
Alda Maria R. Gonzaga, MD, Eloho Ufomata, MD, Eliana Bonifacino, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Shanta Zimmer, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Listening to Reason: Strategies for Instilling a Culture of Clinical Reasoning in Graduate Medical Education
Eliana Bonifacino, MD, Deborah DiNardo, MD, Sarah Tilstra, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

From Biomedicine to Human Medicine: Precepting Social Determinants of Health in Ambulatory Teaching Clinics
Maggie Benson, MD, Thuy Bui, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Jennifer Siegel, MD, Catherine Rich, MD, Boston University School of Medicine

Patient Satisfaction Helping Residents to Understand the Patient Experience
Raquel Buranosky, MD, Robert C. Brooks, MD, PhD, Peter D. Bulova, MD, Carla L. Spagnoletti, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Online Quality Ratings: Educating Residents about Them and Working to Improvement
Gregory Bump, MD, Ben Sprague, MD, Franziska Jovin, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Da Jin, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles


VA National Leadership Board

Evans MW, Borrero S, Yabes J, Rosenfeld EA. Sexual Behaviors and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Male Veterans and Nonveterans. Am J Mens Health. 2017 Jul;11(4):791-800.

Gellad WF, Cunningham FE, Good CB, Thorpe JM, Thorpe CT, Bair B, Roman K, Zickmund SL. Pharmacy use in the first year of the Veterans Choice Program: a mixed-methods evaluation. Med Care. 2017 Jul;55 Suppl 7 Suppl 1:S26-S32.

Hausmann LRM, Youk A, Kwoh CK, Ibrahim SA, Hannon MJ, Weiner DK, Gallagher RM, Parks A. Testing a positive psychological intervention for osteoarthritis. Pain Medicine (accepted).

Promotions and Tenure

Associate Professor of Medicine

Julie Childers, MD, MS, has been promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine

Rene Claxton, MD, MS, has been promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine

Yael Schenker, MD, MAS, has been promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine

Faculty and Staff Changes

Welcome Aboard

Jessica Merlin, MD, MBA, will be appointed at associate professor level in the tenure stream on September 1, 2017. She has been highly productive in her research with a track record of publications in AIDS and pain related journals. Her research focus is on the intersection of HIV medication, chronic pain, mental health and palliative care. Her K23 award is on behavior intervention for chronic pain in individuals with HIV. She already has an RO1 under review. Dr. Merlin completed her undergraduate training from Carnegie Mellon University, and then attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. At that time she also completed an MBA from Penn’s Wharton School of Business, with a focus on health care management. She stayed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to complete a residency in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in infectious diseases. In the final year of her fellowship, she also completed a clinical research certificate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Following a one-year fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Jessie was recruited to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she received an appointment in 2011 as an assistant professor of medicine, primarily in the Division of Infectious Diseases but with a secondary appointment in the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care. Jessie is also nearing completion of a PhD in Health Education and Promotion from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Health Behavior, with an anticipated graduation date in December 2017.

Eloho Ufomata, MD, MS, is being appointed as assistant professor of medicine in the Division. For the past two years she has been one of our Academic Clinician-Educator Scholar (ACES) Fellows, in the Women’s Health track. Dr. Ufomata completed her training at the University of Kentucky before coming to Pitt for her residency and fellowship. She recently developed a curriculum for internal medicine residents in providing optimal care to patients who identify as LGBT. She has won several awards for leadership and service, and serves on the executive committees of the ICRE programs LEADS and PROMISED, both focused on guiding, coaching, and mentoring biomedical professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Deanna Wilson, MD, MPH, is receiving an appointment as assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics. She is a clinician investigator with an impressive training record, and has earned several awards for her work in the areas of adolescent health, substance abuse, and overdose prevention, and for her advocacy in the community setting to address health disparities. She completed her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College, attended medical school at Yale University, and did her internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, followed by a Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Fellowship. She also has a Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. A dedicated public health advocate in the community setting, she designed the Hospital-based Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative during her fellowship to address the epidemic of overdose deaths in Baltimore. She has received a KL2 Clinical and Translational Science Scholars Award as she starts her faculty career.

Tamar Krishnamurti, PhD, will join the division as an investigator at the rank of assistant professor on August 1, 2017, and will work closely with Sonya Borrero on wide ranging projects combining women’s health and technology. Tamar has been serving as an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in behavioral decision research. She completed all of her education and training at CMU; before her faculty appointment she spent two years as a research scientist in the same department, and the three years before that as a post-doctoral fellow in the Tepper School of Business. She completed her PhD in Behavioral Decision Research in 2010. Her research has the broad goal of helping people—especially vulnerable populations—make more informed choices for themselves. Using qualitative and quantitative, basic and applied research methods, she analyzes decision making behaviors in a broad range of complex areas, primarily focusing on maternal health. Her research has been supported by a broad array of sources, including the Pittsburgh Foundation, ICON, Plc., and USAID. Her work is disseminated broadly in peer-reviewed journals such as PNAS, Nature Climate Change, Applied Energy, JAMA Internal Medicine, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Zachary Lenhart, MHA, joined the Division in February as Director of Operations. Zachary graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual major in Economics and Business, followed by a Master of Health Administration degree. As an Administrative Resident, Zachary served as a member of the executive team that opened UPMC East. During his time there, he implemented a physician relations program for contacting physicians and updating them on procedures and operations. He then relocated to the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics where he served in several roles before returning to Pittsburgh and UPMC.

Judi Resick, MSN, MPH, RN, is a new Nurse Research Project Manager for the Palliative Care Research Group, for which she manages the day-to-day aspects of the group’s new infrastructure-building and research program initiatives. She also provides support to several existing research projects. Judi is a 1999 graduate of Duquesne University’s School of Nursing and a 2004 graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Schools of Public Health and Nursing. She most recently worked as a Research Operations Manager for the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

David Bress, BS, joins the Center for Research on Health Care as a research assistant for the CONNECT study and the Supportive Care Management by Oncology Nurses pilot trial, both led by Dr. Yael Schenker. In addition to completing telephone assessments with study participants, Dave is screening and recruiting patients and their family members, completing baseline and debriefing interviews, setting up intervention visits for the nurses, and facilitating assessments. He previously worked as a data entry operator at The Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State University and assisted on studying bi-directional consequences of adolescent alcohol exposure on alcohol preference in two BALB/c sub-strains as a student research assistant. Dave graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Biobehavioral Health and a minor in Health Policy and Administration in May 2015.

Lisa Porter, RN, has recently joined the nursing staff at the UPMC Presbyterian/Shadyside General Internal Medicine Outpatient Clinic, MUH 9 South. Lisa graduated from UPMC Mercy Hospital in 2013, and began her nursing career at UPMC Presbyterian/Shadyside on MUH 12 South. She has also worked as a home healthcare nurse with Allegheny Health Network Healthcare at Home, and on Med-Surg/Ortho units at Ohio Valley Hospital.

Karen Franklin, RN, joined the GIM Clinic on MUH 9 South in December as a clinical nurse and recently began working as a Firm Nurse. She graduated from St. Vincent School of Nursing in 1974. She has primarily worked in Pediatrics, and recently was Clinical Coordinator of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Outpatient Adolescent Clinic.

Hanna Murray, RN, recently began as the Infusion RN at the GIM Clinic where she also provides care to patients in the office. After graduating in 2013 from UPMC Mercy School of Nursing, Hanna worked on the Trauma Burn unit, and then moved to the ER at Magee Women’s hospital.

Trina Kyte began as the Administrative Assistant in Firm 3 in December. Trina has been with UPMC for nearly 6 years, and previously worked at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as a Patient Information Coordinator.

Please give a warm (re)welcome to Susan Spillane as she makes her return to Parkvale after nearly 2 years at the Pitt IRB. Susan will join Sharon Stover as a DCC Coordinator in the Center for Clinical Trials & Data Coordination. Welcome back, Susan!

Fond Farewell

Winnie Teuteberg, MD
Emily Beers, MD
Christine Glaser, MD
Doug Landsittel, PhD
Larissa Myaskovsky, PhD
Kerri Hochberger, RN
Kristen Bolen, RN

Recently Retired

Corde McFeaters, RN
Dawn Moody, RN

Grants and Funding


Subject: Associations between polypharmacy, symptom burden, and quality of life in patients with advanced, life-limiting illness – A PCRC Data Repository Expansion program
Principal Investigator: Yael Schenker, MD, MAS
Sponsor: Palliative Care Research Collaborative (PCRC) Group
Purpose of Grant: The objective of this project is to perform a secondary analysis of data obtained in a multisite randomized control trial of continuing versus discontinuing statins, in order to explore the relationship between polypharmacy, symptom burden, and quality of life in the setting of advanced, life-limiting illness.

Subject: Development of Educational Products for PDMP Systems User and Stakeholders
Principal Investigator: Walid Gellad, MD, MPH
Sponsor: PA Department of Health
Purpose of Grant: This project will develop educational materials for the Department of Health to use to educate physicians and other providers about how to optimally use the new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Subject: STORM Implementation Program Evaluation
Principal Investigator: Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, and Leslie Hausmann, PhD
Sponsor: VA HSR&D
Purpose of Grant: Identifying patients at risk for adverse outcomes from prescription opioid therapy is an essential priority for VA. To address this need, the VA developed a Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Management (STORM), a predictive model that estimates the risk of adverse outcomes among patients who were prescribed opioids. STORM is currently being implemented at VA facilities in a randomized fashion. This project, which is evaluating the rollout, is designed to provide insights for the VA on how best to design policies to improve quality and safety for Veterans and how best to implement STORM across facilities to reduce opioid-related adverse events and improve the safe treatment of pain.

Recent Publications

  1. Albert SM, Raviotta JM, Lin CJ, Edelstein O, Smith KJ. Cost-Effectiveness of a Statewide Falls Prevention Program in Pennsylvania: Healthy Steps for Older Adults. Am J Manag Care. 2016 Oct;22:638-644. PMID: 28557514.
  2. Amin P, Buranosky R, Chang JC. Physicians’ Perceived Roles, as Well as Barriers, Toward Caring for Women Sex Assault Survivors. Womens Health Issues. 2017 Jan – Feb;27(1):43-49. PMID: 27863981.
  3. Barbash IJ, Zhang H, Angus DC, Reis SE, Chang CH, Pike FR, Kahn JM. Differences in Hospital Risk-standardized Mortality Rates for Acute Myocardial Infarction When Assessed Using Transferred and Nontransferred Patients. Med Care. 2017 May;55(5):476-482. PMID: 28002203.
  4. Barnato AE, Schenker Y, Tiver G, Dew MA, Arnold RM, Nunez ER, Reynolds CF 3rd. Storytelling in the Early Bereavement Period to Reduce Emotional Distress Among Surrogates Involved in a Decision to Limit Life Support in the ICU: A Pilot Feasibility Trial. Crit Care Med. 2017 Jan;45(1):35-46. PMID: 27618273.
  5. Barnato AE, Moore R, Moore CG, Kohatsu ND, Sudore RL. Financial Incentives to Increase Advance Care Planning Among Medicaid Beneficiaries: Lessons Learned From Two Pragmatic Randomized Trials. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2017 Apr 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28450218.
  6. Becker CL, Arnold RM, Park SY, Rosenzweig M, Smith TJ, White DB, Smith KJ, Schenker Y. A cluster randomized trial of a primary palliative care intervention (CONNECT) for patients with advanced cancer: protocol and key design considerations. Contemp Clin Trials. 2017 Mar;54:98-104. PMID: 28104470.
  7. Berlacher K, Arnold RM, Reitschuler-Cross E, Teuteberg J, Teuteberg W. The Impact of Communication Skills Training on Cardiology Fellows’ and Attending Physicians’ Perceived Comfort with Difficult Conversations. J Palliat Med. 2017 Mar 1. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28437212.
  8. Birru Talabi M, Clowse MEB, Schwarz EB, Callegari LS, Moreland L, Borrero S. Family Planning Counseling for Women with Rheumatic Diseases. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017 Apr 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28437837.
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    **Mentioned in Politico and MedPage Today.
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    **Featured in Forbes and other news outlets.
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    **Featured in MedPage Today, and others.
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    **Featured in MedPage Today, Nephrology News & Issues, and others.
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    **“Social media use connected to social isolation,” University Times, March 16
    **Featured on CNN, the World Economic Forum, and hundreds of other news outlets.
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    **“Online at multiple sites worse for kids than time spent,” University Times, January 5
    **Cited in more than a dozen news outlets.
  105. Pringle JL, Kearney SM, Rickard-Aasen S, Campopiano MM, Gordon AJ. A statewide screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) curriculum for medical residents: Differential implementation strategies in heterogeneous medical residency programs. Subst Abus. 2017 Apr-Jun;38(2):161-167. PMID: 28332942.
  106. Progovac AM, Chang YF, Chang CH, Matthews KA, Donohue JM, Scheier MF, Habermann EB, Kuller LH, Goveas JS, Chapman BP, Duberstein PR, Messina CR, Weaver KE, Saquib N, Wallace RB, Kaplan RC, Calhoun D, Smith JC, Tindle HA. Are Optimism and Cynical Hostility Associated with Smoking Cessation in Older Women? Ann Behav Med. 2017 Feb 13. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28194642
  107. Radomski TR, Zhao X, Thorpe CT, Thorpe JM, Naples JG, Mor MK, Good CB, Fine MJ, Gellad WF. The Impact of Medication-Based Risk Adjustment on the Association Between Veteran Health Outcomes and Dual Health System Use. J Gen Intern Med. 2017 May 1. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 28462490.
  108. Rief JJ, Hamm ME, Zickmund SL, Nikolajski C, Lesky D, Hess R, Fischer GS, Weimer M, Clark S, Zieth C, Roberts MS. Using Health Information Technology to Foster Engagement: Patients’ Experiences with an Active Patient Health Record. Health Commun. 2017 Mar;32(3):310-319. PMID: 27223684.
  109. Rockette-Wagner B, Hipwell AE, Kriska AM, Storti KL, McTigue KM. Activity Levels for Four Years in a Cohort of Urban-Dwelling Adolescent Females. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Apr;49(4):695-701. PMID: 27875500.
    **“Pittsburgh teen girls found to be only half as active as needed,” University Times, January 5
  110. Rogal SS, McCarthy R, Reid A, Rodriguez KL, Calgaro L, Patel K, Daley M, Jonassaint NL, Zickmund SL. Primary Care and Hepatology Provider-Perceived Barriers to and Facilitators of Hepatitis C Treatment Candidacy and Adherence. Dig Dis Sci. 2017 May 18. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28523579.
  111. Rollman BL, Belnap BH, Mazumdar S, Abebe KZ, Karp JF, Lenze EJ, Schulberg HC. Telephone-Delivered Stepped Collaborative Care for Treating Anxiety in Primary Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Mar;32(3):245-255. PMID: 27714649
    **“Telephone care can ease anxiety,” University Times, March 16
    **Featured in dozens of news outlets.
  112. Rosansky SJ, Schell J, Shega J, Scherer J, Jacobs L, Couchoud C, Crews D, McNabney M. Treatment decisions for older adults with advanced chronic kidney disease. BMC Nephrol. 2017 Jun 19;18(1):200. PMID: 28629462.
  113. Rosenfeld E, Callegari LS, Sileanu FE, Zhao X, Schwarz EB, Mor MK, Borrero S. Racial and ethnic disparities in contraceptive knowledge among women veterans in the ECUUN study. Contraception. 2017 Mar 18. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28322769.
  114. Ross-Cowdery M, Lewis CA, Papic M, Corbelli J, Schwarz EB. Counseling About the Maternal Health Benefits of Breastfeeding and Mothers’ Intentions to Breastfeed. Matern Child Health J. 2017 Feb;21(2):234-241. PMID: 27443655.
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  118. Schenker Y, London AJ. Evaluating public health advertising campaigns: CPR advertising imperils patient-centered decision making. Am J Bioethics. 2017 Feb;17(2):47-48.  PMID: 28112607.
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  122. Semla TP, Ruser C, Good CB, Yanovski SZ, Ames D, Copeland LA, Billington C, Ferguson UI, Aronne LJ, Wadden TA, Garvey WT, Apovian CM, Atkins D. Pharmacotherapy for Weight Management in the VHA. J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Apr;32(Suppl 1):70-73. PMID: 28271432.
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  126. Sidani JE, Shensa A, Naidu MR, Yabes JG, Primack BA. Initiation, Progression, and Sustained Waterpipe Use: A Nationally Representative Longitudinal Study of U.S. Young Adults. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 May;26(5):748-755. PMID: 28082346.
  127. Smith KJ, Zimmerman RK, Nowalk MP, Lin CJ. Cost-Effectiveness of the 4 Pillars Practice Transformation Program to Improve Vaccination of Adults Aged 65 and Older. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Apr;65(4):763-768. PMID: 28024090.
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    **“Watchful eye needed on immunization rates,” University Times, April 27
    **Featured in dozens of news outlets.
  129. Snyder HM, Ahles T, Calderwood S, Carrillo MC, Chen H, Chang CH, Craft S, De Jager P, Driver JA, Fillit H, Knopman D, Lotze M, Tierney MC, Petanceska S, Saykin A, Seshadri S, Shineman D, Ganguli M. Exploring the nexus of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias with cancer and cancer therapies: A convening of the Alzheimer’s Association & Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Alzheimers Dement. 2017 Mar;13(3):267-273. PMID: 27998721.
  130. Stein BD, Mendelsohn J, Gordon AJ, Dick AW, Burns RM, Sorbero M, Shih RA, Liccardo Pacula R. Opioid analgesic and benzodiazepine prescribing among Medicaid-enrollees with opioid use disorders: The influence of provider communities. J Addict Dis. 2017 Jan-Mar;36(1):14-22. PMID: 27449904.
  131. Stroupe KT, Smith BM, Bailey L, Adas J, Gellad WF, Suda K, Huo Z, Tully S, Burk M, Cunningham F. Medication acquisition by veterans dually eligible for Veterans Affairs and Medicare Part D pharmacy benefits. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2017 Feb 1;74(3):140-150. PMID: 28122756.
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    **Featured in Physician’s Weekly, Fox News, and others.
  136. Tilstra S, McNeil M. New Developments in Breast Cancer Screening and Treatment. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Jan;26(1):5-8. PMID: 28099074.
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  140. Turner RM 2nd, Yabes JG, Davies BJ, Heron DE, Jacobs BL. Variations in Preoperative Use of Bone Scan Among Medicare Beneficiaries Undergoing Radical Cystectomy. Urology. 2017 May;103:84-90. PMID: 28238757.
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Announcing the launch of the Innovative Design for Education and Assessment (IDEA) Lab in the Institute for Clinical Research Education! The IDEA Lab helps faculty develop high-quality, innovative courses and training programs using modern digital tools, multimedia design, and research-based learning principles. Contact IDEA Lab Director Marie Norman for more information.

Birth Announcements

Andrew Thurston and family announce birth of daughter, Emily





Lisa Podgurski and family announce birth of son, Andrew (Andy)

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