Research Highlights
1997-98

Nationally and internationally, University researchers have been recognized for their discoveries and innovations developed through research initiatives. The following research highlights, taken from the University of Pittsburgh Research Review, University Times, and UPMC Health System publications, include:



information management grant - The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Health System have received a five-year, $2.7 million Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems (IAIMS) implementation grant from the National Library of Medicine. The primary focus of IAIMS is to integrate electronic information from a wide array of sources and to place this information at the fingertips of clinicians and administrators. Individuals will be able to complete tasks that may require information stored in several different information systems, such as the patient records system or the library, without any detailed knowledge of where the information is stored or how it needs to come together.

vitamin K stops cancer cell growth - Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute have discovered how a novel form of vitamin K (called Cpd 5) exerts its cancer-killing effects in primary liver cancers, which are notoriously resistant to chemotherapy. Through ongoing research it is now known that the vitamin K compounds not only kill liver cancers, but also can destroy other types of cancer in tissue cultures, including breast cancer and melanoma. By treating liver cancer with this agent, and if it is as effective in humans as it is experimentally, there could be a possibility of removing some individuals with this disease from transplant waiting lists.

arthritis center - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have awarded Pitt $4.3 million to establish a multi-purpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Center, which will enhance, encourage and expand ongoing interdisciplinary programs for arthritis and musculoskeletal disease research within the University. The Center, one of 14 NIH-designated centers in the country, is multidisciplinary in that it includes investigators from 13 University departments. New basic and clinical research programs are being developed and a network of arthritis care - the UPMC Arthritis Network - has been established in parallel with the expanded research.

radiation science training center - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Pitt $5 million to establish the first comprehensive training program for post-doctoral fellows in radiation research. Designated a University Center for Excellence for Training in Radiation Science by the DOE, Pitt will recruit highly qualified candidates with scientific or medical doctoral degrees for an intensive education program. The program, to be based in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, will include in-depth coursework and independent research in health physics, radiobiology, radiation epidemiology, toxicology of radiation, occupational and environmental medicine, and health risk assessment.

auto crashes and long-term stress - According to a study undertaken by University psychiatry and psychology researchers, victims of serious motor vehicle accidents who were not responsible for the crash suffer more long-term distress than drivers who were responsible. Drivers responsible for a crash seemed to cope more easily with the memories while those not responsible suffered long-lasting fear of being unable to control future driving experiences. Researchers found that one year after an accident, 41 percent of non-responsible drivers continued to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, drivers who actually had caused crashes dealt with their trauma through a mental process called "self-blame coping," and of these individuals, only 13.6 percent showed PTSD symptoms one year later.

innovation in biomedical education - A $3 million, five-year grant from the Whitaker Foundation enables the expansion of the University's interdisciplinary Bioengineering program to departmental status. The grant supports a comprehensive program of excellence, to educate bioengineers at all levels, from undergraduate through post-graduate. The underlying theme of the program supports definitive research and education in the repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of organs, that, in turn, builds upon existing basic and clinical sciences expertise in the medical and health-related sciences, as well as interdisciplinary areas of engineering. Specific core research areas that will be enhanced by the grant include artificial organs and tissue engineering systems, biomolecular and cellular engineering, and musculoskeletal systems and rehabilitation engineering.

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Office of Institutional Research
University of Pittsburgh Fact Book, 1998-99