NEWS BLOG from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Archive for January, 2018

UPMC Mercy Celebrates Comprehensive Stroke Center Designation

UPMC Mercy Celebrates Comprehensive Stroke Center DesignationUPMC Mercy is starting 2018 as a Joint Commission-accredited Comprehensive Stroke Center. The hospital was the 130th facility out of approximately 6,000 in the nation to achieve the highest level of certification offered by The Joint Commission, which acknowledges UPMC Mercy’s ability to treat the most complex stroke cases.

Previously, UPMC Mercy was a Joint Commission-accredited Primary Stroke Center, which recognized the hospital’s stroke program and its efforts to improve stroke treatment and outcomes. In 2015, UPMC Mercy made the choice to pursue the advanced certification.

“To make this new Comprehensive Stroke Center designation a reality, we committed the resources necessary to enhance our overall stroke care competencies, and the team dedicated two years to the rigorous process that was required to achieve the certification,” said Michael Grace, president of UPMC Mercy.

Advancing from a Primary to a Comprehensive Stroke Center required UPMC Mercy to expand its round-the-clock medical services, develop dedicated neurovascular intensive care unit beds, conduct additional training for staff, collect medical data and increase existing stroke resources. The hospital also improved its processes to care for a larger number of stroke patients.

“Becoming a Comprehensive Stroke Center required support from all areas of our hospital, from the emergency department to rehabilitation services and everything in between,” said Dr. Ashutosh Jadhav, UPMC Mercy Stroke Service medical director. “This certification was a true group effort that has resulted in higher quality care for the patients we treat.”

As the home of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, which includes a dedicated stroke rehabilitation unit, UPMC Mercy is now in a unique position to provide care for patients throughout their entire stroke treatment and recovery process. Patients have access to advanced diagnostic capabilities and state-of-the-art neurovascular technology.

Visit the UPMC Mercy website for additional information about the hospital’s stroke services. To make an appointment, call 412-232-8840, and to learn about monthly support groups, call 412-232-8738.

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Pitt Scientist Sets Sights on Gene Editing to Improve Vision

Pitt Scientist Sets Sights on Gene Editing to Improve VisionInherited retinal degeneration affects about one out of every 2,000 people worldwide and severely impacts quality of life. Due to mutated genes, this disorder causes blindness and currently has no treatment.

To solve this problem, University of Pittsburgh researchers are developing gene therapy solutions to replace the malfunctioning genes with normal, healthy genes, or to rewrite sections of mutated DNA using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tools.

Dr. Leah Byrne from the Pitt School of Medicine is developing these gene therapy solutions with support from a competitive $300,000 Career Development Award from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB).

One way to replace malfunctioning genes with normal ones is to ferry the good genes into the patient within harmless or inactivated viruses. The Byrne lab will use the grant to create adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors and delivery systems for the expression of genes that don’t fit into currently available viruses, and for efficient delivery of genome editing tools in the body.

“This research will benefit millions of patients worldwide who are affected by a wide variety of forms of inherited retinal degeneration,” Byrne said. “We’re developing gene delivery methods that have the potential to impact gene therapies for any form of inherited disease.”

Since it was founded in 1960, RBP has channeled more than $355 million into eye research, and has been identified with nearly every major breakthrough in vision research.

“In my lab, we aim to directly address the most significant obstacles preventing clinical translation of gene therapies,” Byrne said. “This grant will help further our research.”

For more information on RPB’s grants program and findings generated by these awards, visit

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