In The News

Issue Date: 
February 5, 2007

A summary of notable stories involving Pitt people, programs, research, training, or events

• Pitt is heavily represented among the recently announced recipients of the Carnegie Science Center’s 2007 Awards for Excellence.

Sanjeev G. Shroff, professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Pitt’s Department of Bioengineering and professor of medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, will receive the award in the university/post-secondary educator category. The Environmental Award is to go to the Mascaro Sustainability Institute at Pitt, chemical engineering professor Eric J. Beckman and Gena M. Kovalcik, codirectors. Pitt Magazine Associate Editor Cara J. Hayden will receive the Journalism Award. Harvey S. Borovetz, professor and chair in the Department of Bioengineering, professor of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the School of Engineering, and Robert L. Hardesty Professor in the Department of Surgery in Pitt’s School of Medicine, will receive the Life Sciences Award for his work in the development of mechanical circulatory support technology. Finally, Kay M. Brummond, professor in the Department of Chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences, will be honored as an Emerging Female Scientist for her work in synthesizing organic compounds for use in drugs, among other accomplishments, according to a Feb. 1 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

• New research indicates the early insertion of tubes in otherwise healthy infants and children to relieve persistent middle ear fluid doesn’t appear to provide any advantage over waiting to see whether the problem clears up by itself, according to results of a study at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center led by Jack Paradise, professor emeritus of pediatrics in the Pitt School of Medicine and longtime Children’s Hospital pediatrician. These findings strongly suggest that no intervention is necessary for most children with fluid in their ears.

Results of the study are published in the Jan. 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. “Even when it doesn’t cause pain, an ear infection can cause fluid to build in the middle ear, muffling hearing. Because hearing is essential to speech development, doctors and parents worried that persistent middle ear infections could cause developmental problems,” according to a Jan. 17 Reuters article.

The study tested the benefits of a procedure that once was the second-most common surgery in the United States and found none. “The children in the study were tested for skills in hearing sounds, reading, writing, socializing, conduct, and intelligence. Children who got ear tubes quickly did no better than those who waited up to nine months to check if the fluid remained and only then got implants if needed,” according to a Jan. 18 Associated Press (AP) article. In a Jan. 17 United Press International article, Paradise said children with repeated middle ear infections would be eligible for tube insertions if they were having three infections within a six-month period or four or more infections within a year. However, he said that even among these children a wait-and-watch approach is reasonable.

The AP article was picked up nationally by more than 80 outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The New York Times ran a story on the study Jan. 30.