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

Cancer Center Celebrates Pet Therapy Program

Cancer Center Celebrates Pet Therapy ProgramWith the popular 2010 song “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men playing in the background, 18 certified pet therapy dogs and their owners recently gathered at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside for the 2nd annual Pet Therapy Appreciation Day.

Top honors went to Tillie, a 12-year-old black Labrador retriever, who was the first dog to enter the pet therapy program at UPMC Hillman five-and-a-half years ago. To date, Tillie has clocked more than 350 volunteer hours. For that, she received a special “Silver Paw Award.”

While the dogs focus on patients, staff members and visitors each time they volunteer at UPMC Hillman, this time, they were the center of attention. Every dog was given a special “doggie bag” filled with treats and toys. After a group photo, they headed to the outside patio for a special treat of doggie ice cream.

“These animals offer our patients comfort in ways that medicine cannot,” said Laurin Scanlon, volunteer coordinator at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “Our patients form special relationships with the dogs and know them by name. They often ask for them when they arrive for treatment.” (more…)

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Pens Rally Brings Surprise Guests

What started out as just a post-season rally and a chance to share some well wishes for a Magee fan favorite turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some lucky fans. Watch as Pittsburgh Penguins® mascot, Iceburgh, walks in before the coveted championship trophy and chants of “Let’s Go Pens” rain down from the balconies.

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PalPITTations Create Original Song to Help Guide the CPR Process

Many of those who are CPR certified remember learning how to do perform CPR to the rhythm of the Bee Gee’s “Staying Alive.”

The University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Health Sciences a cappella group, the PalPITTations, took a new approach to mixing music and CPR. Writing a song at 100 beats per minute (BPM), the recommended rate of chest compressions, PalPITTation students combined their love for music and healthcare.

The PalPITTations were tasked to write a song about CPR that various UPMC emergency departments could use in a music video competition amongst all UPMC staff.

“We were really excited about getting involved in this competition, so we agreed to help and write a totally original song about CPR,” PalPITTation music director Michael Belsky said.

The PalPITTations are mostly comprised of medical students, but also have students in Ph.D. graduate programs. Between studying for exams, the dual music and medical enthusiasts wrote and recorded the song. Not only is the song a fun background for the music video competition, but it can be used as a reference when performing CPR.

PalPITTations Create Original Song to Help Guide the CPR ProcessDr. David Salcido, research assistant professor of emergency medicine at UPMC, was happy to see that the group captured the main concepts of CPR and cardiac arrest while also using employing artistic creativity.

“These concepts often seem medically and scientifically detached from everyday life experiences, especially the way they are presented in textbooks, informational literature and training courses,” Salcido said. “What the Pitt PalPITTations did was unusual in that it is accurate and artistically compelling.”

Belsky is excited to see what the future holds for the original CPR song.

“We hope that this song will be a fun, catchy background that can help UPMC emergency departments in spreading awareness and information about CPR,” Belsky said.

For now, the PalPITTations must wait to see how the song does in the competition and beyond.


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UPMC Sports Medicine Patient Wins Freddie Fu Scholarship

UPMC Sports Medicine Patient Wins Freddie Fu ScholarshipIncoming Charleroi High School senior Sierra Short’s painful knee injury had the positive effect of inspiring her future.

Short was recently awarded the 2017 Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Scholarship, after her personal experience with an injury motivated her interest in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

The highly competitive scholarship, created by world-renowned surgeon and chair of UPMC orthopaedic surgery, Dr. Freddie Fu, awards one annual scholarship of $2,000 and internship opportunities to a student who demonstrates academic excellence, leadership traits, community involvement and a commitment to a career in sports medicine.

During her sophomore year, Short tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing soccer. She was initially misdiagnosed with a dislocated knee cap. Dealing with intense pain and concerned she would never play sports again, Short sought a second opinion with the experts at UPMC Sports Medicine.

Dr. Dharmesh Vyas later diagnosed her with a torn ACL, and surgically reconstructed the damaged ligament.

After nine months of care under Dr. Vyas and rehabilitation with the physical therapists at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Short made a return to sports this past fall.

“The medical staff was very thorough about how long things would take and how difficult they would be,” Short said. “They were always there for me and always spent the time needed for my recovery.”

Dr. Vyas was a major factor in contributing to Short’s educational goals as Short plans to pursue a career in orthopaedic surgery, specializing in sports medicine.

“The care I received from Dr. Vyas and the physical therapists at UPMC Sports Medicine was an important part of my returning to sports,” she said. “I hope that one day I can do the same for someone passionate about returning to physical activity after an injury.”

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Partnership Between Pitt and Tsinghua Reaches Milestone

A highly innovative global partnership connecting the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with the top science and technology university in all of China reached an important milestone this week.

On Monday, 13 Chinese medical students who previously spent two years in Pittsburgh as part of Pitt’s Tsinghua Scholars Program graduated from the Tsinghua University School of Medicine. They are the first Pitt-Tsinghua Scholars to earn their medical degrees. Initiated in 2012 to elevate the training of Chinese physician-scientists, the Tsinghua Scholars Program allows medical students from the university to undergo a rigorous, two-year biomedical research training program in Pittsburgh.

The historic agreement between Pitt and Tsinghua University was recently renewed for a second five-year term. The Tsinghua Scholars Program currently has 67 alumni and 25 active scholars on Pitt’s campus, where they work in the laboratories of some of Pitt’s most accomplished biomedical researchers. To date, 44 Pitt faculty members have participated as mentors.

Since the program’s inception, Tsinghua Scholars have been co-authors on more than 70 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, and they have given more than 100 oral and poster presentations at local and national scientific meetings.

Building on the success of the program, the two medical schools are considering the formation of a combined M.D./Ph.D. program, which would be modeled after the highly successful Medical Scientist Training Program at Pitt and other U.S. medical schools. If implemented, it would be China’s first such dual-degree program.


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