Archived Newsletter:  July 2018

Feature Articles

Director of the Data Center of the Center for Research on Health Care

On March 1, Kaleab Z. Abebe, PhD, became Director of the Data Center of the Center for Research on Health Care (CRHC-DC), which provides Web design, database development, data management, and statistical analysis services across the University. Kaleab is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Biostatistics, and Clinical and Translational Science, and the founding director of the Center for Clinical Trials and Data Coordination (CCDC). He joined the CRHC-DC as a Faculty Statistician in 2009, and collaborated on multiple studies as lead biostatistician before becoming the PI of Data Coordinating Centers for the HALT-PKD Network, comprising two, 7-site RCTs evaluating the impact of hypertensive medications and blood pressure control on polycystic kidney disease, as well as for an early phase RCT assessing safety and tolerability of metformin in PKD. He also oversees statistical cores of several comparative-effectiveness studies for gestational diabetes, collaborative care, HIV, and adolescent medicine.

Kaleab took over from Doris M. Rubio, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Biostatistics, Nursing, and Clinical and Translational Science, and Co-Director of the Institute for Clinical Research Education (ICRE). Doris became the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty on September 1, 2017. In this role, Doris designs and implements professional development opportunities for faculty, and helps the Office of the Provost ensure a productive work environment for all faculty. Thank you, Doris, for your 16 years of skillful, dedicated leadership to the CRHC and the Division!

Resident Recruitment 2017-2018

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 include Mark T. Gladwin, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine; Jane M. Liebschutz, MD, MPH, FACP, Division Chief for Internal Medicine; Melissa McNeil, MD, MPH, vice chair for education; Jennifer Corbelli, MD, MS, 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 4,580 applicants, of whom 364 were interviewed, and 52 were matched for the Categorical program and 8 for the Preliminary Year.
  • The Medicine-Pediatrics Training Program had 298 applicants, of whom 61 were interviewed and 4 were matched.
  • The Transitional Year Program had 1,843 applicants; 8 positions were filled in the first round and the remaining two positions were filled via the SOAP process.
Annual Pittsburgh Magazine Top Doctors

These physicians were recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine in their annual Top Doctors issue.

Robert M. Arnold Lori Bigi D. Michael Elnicki Michael Fine
Peggy B. Hasley Erika L. Hoffman Franziska Jovin Wishwa N. Kapoor
William Levin Natalia Morone 
Academic Internal Medicine Week 2018

The Annual Academic Internal Medicine Week was held in San Antonio, Texas, in March. The General Internal Medicine Division were active participants once again and we want to acknowledge all those who participated that week. (click the link for a complete list of workshops and presentations: Academic Internal Medicine Week March 18). We also want to acknowledge Dr. Arnold for his award during the conference.

Robert Arnold, MD, medical director, UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, was honored with the ASP Eric G. Neilson, MD, Distinguished Professor Award. This award is presented annually to a physician who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and support of specialty internal medicine.

Society of General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting

The 2018 Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Annual Meeting was held in Denver, Colorado, in April. The Division of General Internal Medicine was well represented and we want to acknowledge the following recipients of SGIM Awards.

Carla Spagnoletti, MD, MS, was the recipient of the Society of General Internal Medicine’s Mid-Career Education Mentorship Award. This award recognizes outstanding mid-career clinician educators actively engaged in education research as well as mentorship of junior educators. The award is a national recognition of long standing interest and success in mentoring at all levels.

Jodie Bryk, MD, and the Division of General Internal Medicine Enhanced Care Program was awarded the SGIM 2018 Quality and Practice Innovation Award, which recognizes general internists and their organization that have successfully developed and implemented innovative role-model systems of practice improvement in ambulatory or clinical practice.

Walid F. Gellad, MD, MPH, received the 2018 Leadership Award from the Association of Chiefs and Leaders of General Internal Medicine. This award recognizes skills in leadership in areas of academic medicine, including clinical, educational, research or administrative efforts.

Yael Schenker, MD, received the Best Geriatrics Oral Abstract for “Associations Between Polypharmacy, Symptom Burden, and Quality of Life in Patients with Advanced, Life-Limited Illness.”

Please see attachment for further news of SGIM participants.

Academy of Women’s Health Award

Melissa McNeil, MD, MPH, was awarded the Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health from the Academy of Women’s Health. The national honor was presented in early May during the 25th Anniversary Congress on Women’s Health in Washington, D.C. Dr. McNeil is Associate Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Chief of the Section of Women’s Health, and Vice Chair of Education within the Department of Medicine.

Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award

Jane Schell, MD, FNKF, Assistant Professor of Medicine and a member of the Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, was recently awarded an early career physician award from the Hastings Center. The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute, cosponsors the awards with the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation whose mission is to enrich the relationship between physicians and patients who are near the end of life.

Dr. Schell was given the award for her dedication to improving the care of seriously ill patients with kidney disease. The prestigious national award is given annually to five palliative care doctors who have demonstrated exemplary care and initiative with patients who are near the end of life. Dr. Schell developed NephroTalk, a nationally recognized curriculum that prepares nephrology fellows to have difficult conversations with patients and families, including end-of-life discussions.

John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award

Jessica S. Merlin, MD, PhD, MBA, was given the 2018 John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award by the American Pain Society. The John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award was named in 1998 to honor the memory of John C. Liebeskind, PhD, a past president of APS who was a noted pain researcher, scientist, and teacher. The Early Career Scholar Award recognizes early career achievements that have made outstanding contributions to pain scholarship.

Dr. Merlin joined DGIM in September 2017 as an Associate Professor in the tenure stream. She has been highly productive in her research with a track record of publications in AIDS and pain-related journals. Her research focus is at 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.

I CARE Award for LGBT Veteran Services, VA

John Blosnich, PhD, MPH, was selected to receive an I CARE Award for outstanding LGBT Veteran service, which recognizes extraordinary efforts made by VA employees to provide excellent care to Veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and related identities at the VA. This award is sponsored by the LGBT Health Program, Office of Patient Care Services, Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Blosnich is a Core Investigator and VA HSR&D Career Development Awardee and a research health scientist with the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. His research areas of expertise include interpersonal and self-directed violence among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. His program of research focuses on LGBT veterans, with specific attention to suicide prevention and examining ways that patients’ social determinants of health data can be integrated into adaptive health care systems. His five-year VA Health Services Research & Development Career Development Award is the first to study transgender health nationally across the VA.

The Institute for Clinical Research Education Awards

The Institute for Clinical Research Education recognized graduates of their degree programs, training programs, and career development programs at the ICRE Commencement Ceremony held on May 22nd. This event honored the 79 graduates who have completed an ICRE program within the last academic year. Congratulations to all graduates and a special note of thanks to the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Matthew Rosengart. We also want to recognize the following award winners.

Distinguished Alumnus Award in Medical Education
Award Information: Nominations and voting done by Medical Education Curriculum Committee
Winner: Danelle Cayea, MD, MS

Excellence in Teaching Award
Award information: Nominations are submitting by ICRE students and trainees. Winner voted on by ICRE Program Directors.
Winner: Galen E. Switzer, PhD

Distinguished Mentor Awards
Award information: Nominations are submitting by ICRE students and trainees. Winners voted on by ICRE Program Directors.
Winner: Sonya Borrero, MD, MS
Winner: Rohit Aggarwal, MD, MS

Distinguished Alumnus Award in Clinical Research
Award information: Nominations are submitting by ICRE students and trainees. Winner voted on by ICRE Program Directors.
Winner: Alison Morris, MD, MS

Senior Resident Dinner and Awards

The Division of General Internal Medicine’s Senior Resident Dinner and Awards was help on Monday, June 4, 2018. Please click on the links below for details on the awards and where the senior residents go from here. Congratulations to all!

Professional Recognition

Awards and Professional Recognition

Tanya Nikiforova, MD, was the 1st place winner in the Department of Medicine Fellowship Teaching Competition. She is also this year’s recipient of the Frank J. Kroboth Medical Education Award for the most outstanding plenary presentation at the UPMC Annual GME Leadership Conference.

Amar Bansal, MD, won the “Clinical Junior Faculty Research Award” at the DOM Research Day for his abstract titled “Decisional satisfaction and perceptions of inpatient dialysis initiation.”

Jessica Merlin, MD, PhD, MBA, was named the recipient of the 2018 AMERSA New Investigator/Educator Award. This award is designed to recognize and encourage new investigators and educators in the field of substance use.

Jennifer Corbelli, MD, and Kristian Feterik, MD, were recently announced as 2018-2019 Lead Scholars. The ACLGIM LEAD program is designed for junior to mid-career faculty who wish to further develop their leadership skills.

Kristen Livesey, MD, was recently announced as a 2018-2019 Teach Scholar. The TEACH Certificate program was developed by SGIM’s Education Committee to address the needs of junior clinician educators. Participants earn a master teacher certificate.

Amy Farkas, MD, MS (3rd-year ACES Fellow) and Eliana Bonifacino, MD (2nd-year ACES Fellow) were selected as finalists for the Lipkin award at SGIM 2018 for their abstract, “Mentoring Women in Academic Medicine: A Systematic Review.”

Amol Koldekhar (MS4) was awarded the Clinical Medical Student Research Award at the Department of Medicine’s Annual Research Day for his poster presentation entitled “Associations of grip strength with mood symptoms and health-related quality of life among patients with systolic heart failure.”; Dr. Bruce Rollman was his project mentor, and DGIM member Dr. Kaleab Abebe, along with Amy Anderson and Bea Herbeck Belnap, were his co-authors.

Professional Boards, Committees and Organizations

Dio Kavalieratos, PhD, was appointed as the Co-Director of Palliative Care Initiatives for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In this role, he will coordinate activities related to research, quality improvement, and dissemination regarding palliative care, including the development of clinical guidelines for palliative care in CF.

Bruce Rollman, MD, MPH, was elected president of the American Psychosomatic Society (APS). Formed in 1942, its mission is to advance and integrate the scientific study of biological, psychological, behavioral and social factors in health and disease. Learn more about APS here and look this summer for the call for abstract submissions to their Annual Meeting, which will be held March 6-9, 2019, in Vancouver, BC.

Carla Spagnoletti, MD, MS, has been selected to the editorial board of Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM). The term of service for the JGIM Editorial Board is three years and began in April 2018.

Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, was invited to serve on the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which was signed into law in May 2018 by Governor Wolf. The committee will be made up of 15 members and headed by Dr. Rachel Levine, the PA Secretary of Health.

John Blosnich, PhD, MPH, was invited to join the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans as an affiliated researcher for a 3-year renewable term.

Presentations and Posters

The VA National Leadership Council was recently briefed on the following publication from
DGIM investigators and colleagues in the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP):

Radomski T, Bixler F, Zickmund S, Roman KL, Thorpe CT, Hale JA, Sileanu F, Hausmann LRM, Thorpe JM, Suda KJ, Stroupe KT, Gordon AJ, Good CB, Fine MJ, Gellad WF. “Physicians’ perspectives regarding prescription drug monitoring program use within the Department of Veterans Affairs: a multi-state qualitative study.” J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Mar 8. [Epub ahead of print]

The following poster was presented at The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, held in Boston, MA, from March 4th through the 7th:

“T Cell Subsets Associated with Incident Diabetes Risk in HIV+ and HIV-Veterans,” by Wyatt J. McDonnell, Kathleen McGinnis, Kaku So-Armah, Melissa Wellons, Glory Koerbel, Jeffrey Blume, Margaret F. Doyle, Nels C Olson, Russell, Tracy, Amy C. Justice, Simon Mallal, Mathew Freiberg, John R. Koethe.


Work by Ann Marie Rosland, MD, MS, focusing on peer specialists was featured in the inaugural edition of the national QUERI Veterans’ Perspectives electronic newsletter.

Dr. Rosland also had work featured in Reuters: Friends and family may help counter diabetes stress. The original research was published in Diabetes Care in June 2018 (“Diabetes distress and glycemic control: the buffering effect of autonomy support from important family members and friends”).

Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, was featured in a national VA Office of Research and Development “Chat with our Experts” focused on risks faced by Veterans who use VA and Medicare Part D to fill opioid prescriptions. Dr. Gellad was also recently interviewed for a WPXI feature on the topic of doctors getting payments from drug and medical device companies.

Various research by DGIM investigators (Borrero, Fine, Hausmann, Rodriguez, and Switzer) was featured in the VA’s Health Services Research and Development recent publication, Spotlight on Health Equity and Disparities Research.

Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, and C. Bernie Good, MD, MPH, were co-authors on the recently selected VA HSR&D Best Research Paper of the Year for 2017 [Thorpe JM, Thorpe CT, Gellad WF, Good CB, Hanlon JT, Mor MK, Pleis JR, Schleiden LJ, Van Houtven CH. Dual health care system use and high-risk prescribing in patients with dementia: a national cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Feb 7;166(3):157-163].

A paper co-authored in 2015 by DGIM investigators Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, C. Bernie Good, MD, MPH, and Michael Fine, MD, MSc, informed the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes for Older Adults published by the American Diabetes Association in 2018 [Thorpe CT, Gellad WF, Good CB, Zhang S, Zhao X, Mor M, Fine MJ. Tight glycemic control and use of hypoglycemic medications in older veterans with type 2 diabetes and comorbid dementia. Diabetes Care. 2015 Apr;38(4):588-95].

Promotions and Tenure

Professor of Medicine

Carla L. Spagnoletti, MD, MS, was promoted to the rank of professor of medicine. Dr. Spagnoletti directs the Academic Clinician Educator Scholars Fellowship in General Internal Medicine and the Masters and Certificate Programs in Medical Education through the Institute for Clinical Research Education (ICRE). She is also co-director of the Leadership and Discovery (LEAD) resident research program and course director for Advanced Medical Interviewing in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSOM). She leads the division’s Patient Experiences Committee and is a founding member of the UPMC Patient Experiences Physician Advisory Council. She is chair-elect of the Society of General Internal Medicine Education Committee.
Dr. Spagnoletti received her MD from UPSOM in 2001, completed her residency in Internal Medicine/Women’s Health at UPMC in 2004, her fellowship in general internal medicine/women’s health at VA Pittsburgh and UPSOM in 2006, and earned a Master’s of Science in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. She is a recent recipient of SGIM’s Mid-Career Education Mentorship Award in 2018 and SGIM’s Scholarship in Medical Education Award in 2015, the Leadership Award from the Association of Chiefs and Leaders in Internal Medicine in 2016, and the William I. Cohen Award for Excellence in Clinical Instruction from UPSOM in 2017. She has mentored dozens of residents, fellows, and junior faculty on their medical education research. Her own scholarly work focuses on patient–doctor communication and patient experiences, for which she has secured both internal and foundational funding.

Peggy Hasley, MD, MHSc, was promoted to the rank of professor of medicine. Dr. Hasley is a key clinical faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program, in which she is the Associate Program Director for Ambulatory Medicine. She has served as advisor and mentor for hundreds of residents over the years. She created and still leads the Generalist Track within the residency program. In addition she has created or co-created curricula in care for vulnerable populations including the “no-show” patient and the LGBT population. She has also developed curricula in musculoskeletal medicine, large joint aspiration and injection, efficient and effective ambulatory documentation in the electronic health record, and a high value cost conscious care curriculum. She is the co-creator of a program to train residents to work in the Patient-Centered Medical Home which includes training in population medicine, inter-visit telephone medicine, and interdisciplinary team based care. She is also responsible for the creation, development, and direction of a unique curriculum in health policy and advocacy for the residency program. Dr. Hasley earned her medical degree and completed her residency and fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh/UPMC.

Associate Professor of Medicine

Jennifer Corbelli, MD, MS, was promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine. Dr. Corbelli is a clinician-educator and the Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Training Program. She is actively involved in teaching medical students in all four years of training, and has presented nationally and published work in a variety of different research content areas including systematic review, medical education research such as curriculum development and evaluation, and women’s health. In addition, she actively mentors residents and fellows in their own research and education projects. Dr. Corbelli practices primary care medicine at UPMC Montefiore Hospital, with a particular focus on women’s health including provision of contraception services. She also attends on the hospital service at UPMC Montefiore. She has a special interest in health care for the underserved and volunteers regularly at the Birmingham Free Clinic and the Women’s Shelter and Center of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Corbelli earned her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 2007 and completed her residency here at UPMC and a VA Women’s Health Fellowship from the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. She also earned an MS in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburgh.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine
Jodie Bryk, MD
Natasha Parekh, MD

ICRE Staff

In recognition of her broadening skillset, we congratulate Natalie Vazquez, MFA, on being promoted to the role of “Video Production Specialist and Multimedia Designer.” We have all appreciated Natalie’s “magic” as we enjoy the electronic slides on the Parkvale news and media screens. Over the past year Natalie has also lent her skills to development of graphics for grant proposals and publications. In the coming months, you can look forward to seeing more of Natalie’s work displayed in the highly anticipated revitalization of the ICRE website. Congratulations, Natalie!

Juliana Tambellini is a name that has become synonymous with the ICRE. Juliana has truly become the “face” of the ICRE degree programs: She creates and executes strategies to keep a positive image. She forms and maintains relationships with members of the public, and University leadership to advocate for our students and programs. She is the driving force behind new business opportunities—in our case, new course offerings and track offerings to keep up with current demands. She oversees communication in a variety of forums, like social media and eNews Boards, and she makes sure that any promotional materials are in line with the ICRE’s image and goals. We congratulate Juliana on her promotion to “Assistant Director of Academic Programs and Media Relations.”

Faculty and Staff Changes

Welcome Aboard

Tripti Joshi, MBA, has joined DGIM for three months. She graduated from the Katz Business School MBA program and has prior Pitt working experience in the Payment Processing and Compliance Department. She is working as a Division accountant to support the Division’s financial accounting operation and faculty/staff funding management and expense processing.

Sara Carter, BA, joins the Department of Medicine’s Education Office as Fellowship Coordinator for the Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship Program as well as for General Internal Medicine Fellowships (ACES and Clinical Research). Sara previously worked as an Academic Coordinator for the Department of Neurology and earned her BA in International Politics from Pennsylvania State University. She is excited to meet everyone and get started in her new role!

Janet Parham, is a new team member in the Department of Medicine’s Office of Education, Oakland Campus, as the academic support coordinator for the Residency Program. Janet joined us in April 2018 after seven years of working in education in a school district. She brings a wealth of experience in administrative functions, office management and operations. Janet previously owned a Cosmetic and Skin Care company, for which she obtained her PA State license as an esthetician and certifications in medical esthetics. She has volunteered with the “Look Good Feel Better” program from the American Cancer Society for eight years as a beauty trainer.

Xinmei Zhu, PhD, MS, joined the ICRE in January as a data analyst for Walid Gellad’s R01. She previously worked in Pitt’s School of Social Work where she collaborated with the data manager and PIs within the Child Welfare Education and Research Programs to create data analysis plans, and to perform data quality assurance and statistical analysis.

Marissa Consolmagno is the new Administrative Manager for the Section of Palliative Care. Marissa completed her undergraduate degree in Health Policy and Administration at The Pennsylvania State University. Before joining the team, she spent five years with St. Clair Medical Services working with physician practices.

Ashley Wills is a new CRNP in the Magee Palliative Care Clinics. She joined the Section in November 2017.

Shelley McCormick is a new CRNP for the Magee Palliative Care Clinics. She joined the Section of Palliative Care in January 2018.

Megan Dooley is the new Degree Program’s Student Services Coordinator. Megan will assist our degree program students with enrollment, graduate, admissions and other academic needs. She has an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Washtenaw Community College and she has six plus years of administrative experience. Prior to her move to the University of Pittsburgh she held a job with JLL at the Google Ann Arbor headquarters in Michigan.

Fond Farewell
Minuet Kurjakovic
Jessica Poli (July)
Melanie Robbins-Ong, MD
Sharon Stover, RN

Grants and Funding


Subject: Identifying Predictors of Poor Health-Related Quality of Life among Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Donors
PI: Galen E. Switzer, PhD
Sponsor: NHLBI
Purpose: This R01 project focuses on the physical, psychological, and emotional experiences of children who donate stem cells to an ill sibling. We will be collecting information by telephone interview from (a) 409 child donors (ages 5-18), (b) 326 nondonor siblings from the same families, and (c) their parents/caregivers before, four weeks after, 6 months after and one year after they donate. The telephone interviews will focus on how the child experiences the donation physically and psychologically, how it affects their relationship with their sibling, and how having a donor child and an ill child affect the family as a whole. Findings will (a) help us identify what factors are related to better or worse quality-of-life for the donor following donation, and (b) provide information that will help us design interventions to improve quality-of-life in donors and their families.

Subject: Development of a Patient-Centered Metric of Low-Value Prescribing in Older Adults
Principal Investigator: Thomas Radomski, MD, MS & Walid Gellad, MD, MPH
Sponsor: Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Pilot Funding Program
Purpose of Grant: To generate the qualitative preliminary data necessary to develop a metric that will reliably characterize low-value prescribing in older adults from the perspectives of patients and caregivers.

Subject: Comparative Effectiveness of Adding Family Supporter Training and Engagement to a CHW-Led Intervention to Improve Behavioral Management of Multiple Risk Factors for Diabetes Complications
Principal Investigator: Ann-Marie Rosland, MD, MS
Sponsor: NIDDK
Purpose of Grant: We will compare how a family supporter-focused vs. individual-focused diabetes education and management intervention delivered by Community Health Workers to urban minority adults with diabetes impacts short and long term diabetes health.

Subject: VHA Equity Explorer: Building an Interactive Equity Dashboard
Principal Investigator: Leslie Hausmann, PhD
Sponsor: VA Innovators Network Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment
Purpose of Grant: The goal of this project is to create a working prototype of a user-friendly data visualization tool (i.e., an interactive equity dashboard) to enable VA decision-makers to identify differences in quality or health outcomes based on vulnerable group membership.

Subject: Development of a Predictive Model for Opioid Overdoses in Allegheny County
Principal Investigator: Walid Gellad, MD, MPH
Sponsor: RK Mellon Foundation
Purpose of Grant: The goal of this project is to work with the Allegheny Department of Human Services to develop machine learning algorithms to predict opioid overdoses using all human services data available in the County.

Subject: Patterns of Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Care among Transgender Persons
Principal Investigator: John Blosnich, PhD, MPH (Co-PI)
Sponsor: NIAAA
Purpose of Grant: Transgender persons are a vulnerable and stigmatized population at risk for health and health care disparities. The proposed study will describe patterns of alcohol use and receipt of alcohol-related care in a large sample of transgender adults and to begin to identify mediators and moderators suggesting intervention targets. Findings will lay the foundation for intervention research aimed at reducing alcohol use and its related risks in this vulnerable population and the study will pioneer transgender health research processes related to alcohol use that will be scalable to other healthcare systems.


Sonya Borrero, MD, MS, received operational funding from VA Women’s Health Services to review established preconception health measures that are indicators of pregnancy outcomes for women Veterans.

Walid Gellad, MD, MPH, received operational funding from the VA Center for Medication Safety to support fellowship training and partnered medication safety initiatives.

John Blosnich, PhD, MPH, is Co-I on a new VA HSR&D Merit Award: “Understanding Hormone Therapy Care Received by Transgender Veterans in VHA” (PI: Guneet Jasuja).

Ann-Marie Rosland, MD, MS, is Co-I on a new HSR&D Pilot Award: “Segmenting High-Need, High-Cost Veterans Into Potentially Actionable Subgroups,” led by CHERP Philadelphia investigator, Amol Navathe, MD, PhD.

Recent Publications

2018 Publications (January-June)
  1. Abebe KZ, Jones KA, Rofey D, McCauley HL, Clark DB, Dick R, Gmelin T, Talis J, Anderson J, Chugani C, Algarroba G, Antonio A, Bee C, Edwards C, Lethihet N, Macak J, Paley J, Torres I, Van Dusen C, Miller E. A cluster-randomized trial of a college health center-based alcohol and sexual violence intervention (GIFTSS): Design, rationale, and baseline sample. Contemp Clin Trials. 2018 Feb;65:130-143.
  2. Agarwal V, Bump GM, Heller MT, Chen LW, Branstetter BF 4th, Amesur NB, Hughes MA. Do Residency Selection Factors Predict Radiology Resident Performance? Acad Radiol. 2018 Mar;25(3):397-402.
  3. Agénor M, Pérez AE, Peitzmeier SM, Borrero S. Racial/ethnic disparities in human papillomavirus vaccination initiation and completion among U.S. women in the post-Affordable Care Act era. Ethn Health. 2018 Jan 18:1-15. [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Ahmad S, Munir MB, Sharbaugh MS, Althouse AD, Pasupula DK, Saba S. Causes and predictors of 30-day readmission after cardiovascular implantable electronic devices implantation: Insights from Nationwide Readmissions Database. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2018 Mar;29(3):456-462.
  5. Amico KR, Mugavero M, Krousel-Wood MA, Bosworth HB, Merlin JS. Advantages to Using Social-Behavioral Models of Medication Adherence in Research and Practice. J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Feb;33(2):207-215.
  6. Anderson TS, Lo-Ciganic WH, Gellad WF, Zhang R, Huskamp HA, Choudhry NK, Chang CH, Richards-Shubik S, Guclu H, Jones B, Donohue JM. Patterns and predictors of physician adoption of new cardiovascular drugs. Healthc (Amst). 2018 Mar;6(1):33-40.
  7. Apostolova MH, Seaman CD, Comer DM, Yabes JG, Ragni MV. Prevalence and Risk Factors Associated With Hypertension in von Willebrand Disease. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2018 Jan;24(1):93-99.
  8. Austin CA, Choudhury S, Lincoln T, Chang LH, Cox CE, Weaver MA, Hanson LC, Nelson JE, Carson SS. Rapid Response Events in Hospitalized Patients: Patient Symptoms and Clinician Communication. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2018 Mar;55(3):946-952.
  9. Bachhuber MA, Saloner B, LaRochelle M, Merlin JS, Maughan BC, Polsky D, Shaparin N, Murphy SM. Physician Time Burden Associated with Querying Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. Pain Med. 2018 Mar 30. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Bansal AD, Leonberg-Yoo A, Schell JO, Scherer JS, Jones CA. Ten Tips Nephrologists Wish the Palliative Care Team Knew About Caring for Patients with Kidney Disease. J Palliat Med. 2018 Apr;21(4):546-551.
  11. Bansal AD, Schell JO. A practical guide for the care of patients with end-stage renal disease near the end of life. Semin Dial. 2018 Mar;31(2):170-176.
  12. Barnato AE, Chang CH, Lave JR, Angus DC. The Paradox of End-of-Life Hospital Treatment Intensity among Black Patients: A Retrospective Cohort Study. J Palliat Med. 2018 Jan;21(1):69-77.
  13. Beasley A, Bakitas MA, Edwards R, Kavalieratos D. Models of non-hospice palliative care: a review. Ann Palliat Med. 2018 Apr 25. pii: apm.2018.03.11. [Epub ahead of print]
  14. Beer JC, Snitz BE, Chang CH, Loewenstein DA, Ganguli M. Does a cognitive stress test predict progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia equally well in clinical versus population-based settings? Int Psychogeriatr. 2018 Jan 16:1-11. [Epub ahead of print]
  15. Bensley KM, McGinnis KA, Fiellin DA, Gordon AJ, Kraemer KL, Bryant KJ, Edelman EJ, Crystal S, Gaither JR, Korthuis PT, Marshall BDL, Ornelas IJ, Chan KCG, Dombrowski JC, Fortney JC, Justice AC, Williams EC. Racial/ethnic differences in the association between alcohol use and mortality among men living with HIV. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2018 Jan 22;13(1):2.
  16. 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). 2018 Feb;70(2):169-174.
  17. Blosnich JR, Cashy J, Gordon AJ, Shipherd JC, Kauth MR, Brown GR, Fine MJ. Using clinician text notes in electronic medical record data to validate transgender-related diagnosis codes. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print]
  18. Blosnich JR, Friedman MR, Ho K. Remembering Patient Gender in Sexual Orientation-Based Research. JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Jan 1;178(1):151.
  19. Bove AM, Gough ST, Hausmann LRM. Providing no-cost transport to patients in an underserved area: Impact on access to physical therapy. Physiother Theory Pract. 2018 Mar 30:1-6. [Epub ahead of print]
  20. Bove AM, Smith KJ, Bise CG, Fritz JM, Childs J, Brennan GP, Abbott JH, Fitzgerald GK. Exercise, Manual Therapy, and Booster Sessions in Knee Osteoarthritis: Cost-Effectiveness Analysis From a Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. Phys Ther. 2018 Jan 1;98(1):16-27.
  21. Bramoweth AD, Germain A, Youk AO, Rodriguez KL, Chinman MJ. A hybrid type I trial to increase Veterans’ access to insomnia care: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2018 Jan 26;19(1):73.
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The Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology hosted the Associate Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cardiac Psychiatry Research Program, Chris Celano, MD, as visiting professor from June 5th–7th. He delivered his talk, “Is a happy heart a healthy heart? The evidence for well-being’s links to heart health,” at the Center for Research on Health Care’s Health Services Research Seminar Series on June 7th.

The Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology and the Department of Medicine will host Visiting Professor Dr. Kurt Kroenke, Professor of Medicine at Indiana University, September 23rd–25th. Dr. Kroenke will present the Department of Medicine’s Grand Rounds on Tuesday, September 25th.

The Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology will host its 4th Integrative Conference on Technology, Social Media, and Behavioral Health at the University Club on Monday, November 5th. Dr. Sherry Pagoto, Director of the Center for mHealth and Social Media at the University of Connecticut and President of the Society of Behavioral Medicine will be one of the Conference’s featured keynote speakers.

If you want to stay informed with more Center for Behavioral Health and Smart Technology activities.  Follow them on Twitter (@HealthTechPitt) and go to their website to sign-up for the HealthTech Weekly.

Birth Announcements
Tom Radomski and family announced the birth of daughter Audra Claire.

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