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Archives for Gastroenterology

Laboratory Detective Work Points to Potential Therapy for Rare, Drug-Resistant Cancer

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 13, 2014 University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) scientists have shown that old drugs might be able to do new tricks.

By screening a library of FDA-approved anticancer drugs that previously wouldn’t have been considered as a treatment for a rare type of cancer, UPCI scientists were surprised when they found several potential possibilities to try if the cancer becomes resistant to standard drug treatment.

The discovery, which will be published in the February 15th issue of Cancer Research, demonstrates that high-throughput screening of already FDA-approved drugs can identify new therapies that could be rapidly moved to the clinic.

“This is known as ‘drug repurposing,’ and it is an increasingly promising way to speed up the development of treatments for cancers that do not respond well to standard therapies,” said senior author Anette Duensing, M.D., assistant professor of pathology at UPCI. “Drug repurposing builds upon previous research and development efforts, and detailed information about the drug formulation and safety is usually available, meaning that it can be ready for clinical trials much faster than a brand-new drug.”

Dr. Duensing and her team ran the screening on 89 drugs previously approved by the FDA in an attempt to find more treatment options for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), which are uncommon tumors that begin in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5,000 cases of GISTs occur each year in the United States with an estimated five-year survival rate of 45 percent in patients with advanced disease.

GISTs are caused by a single gene mutation and can be successfully treated with the targeted therapy drug imatinib, known by the trade name Gleevec. However, about half of the patients treated with Gleevec become resistant to the drug within the first two years of treatment.

After studying how samples of GIST responded to various concentrations of the 89 drugs in the laboratory, Dr. Duensing and her colleagues identified 37 compounds that showed some anticancer activity in at least one of the concentrations tested. Importantly, they noted that the most promising candidates all belonged to only two major drug classes: inhibitors of gene transcription and so-called topoisomerase II inhibitors. Based on these findings, the research team selected the two most promising compounds for further testing – gene transcription inhibitor mithramycin A, which is in clinical trials to treat Ewing sarcoma, and topoisomerase II inhibitor mitoxantrone, which is used in metastatic breast cancer and leukemia.

Both drugs were highly effective in fighting GIST in laboratory tests. Moreover, the mechanism of action of each drug was linked to the specific underlying biology of these tumors.

“These are very encouraging results,” said Dr. Duensing. “The next step will be moving our findings to clinical exploration to see if the results we found in the lab hold up in patients.”

Additional co-authors of this study include Sergei Boichuk, M.D., Ph.D., Derek J. Lee, B.S., Keith R. Mehalek, M.S., Kathleen R. Makielski, M.S., Danushka S. Seneviratne, B.S., Rolando Cuevas, M.S., Joshua A. Parry, B.S., Matthew F. Brown, Ph.D., James P. Zewe, B.S., and Shih-Fan Kuan, M.D., Ph.D., all of Pitt; Agnieszka Wozniak, Ph.D., Patrick Schöffski, M.D., M.P.H., and Maria Debiec-Rychter, M.D., Ph.D., all of the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium; Nina Korzeniewski, Ph.D., of the University of Heidelberg in Germany; and Takahiro Taguchi, M.D., of Kochi Medical School in Japan.

This research was supported by American Cancer Society grant no. RSG-08-092-01-CCG, The Life Raft Group, GIST Cancer Research Fund and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Developer of Innovative Surgical Technique Leads New Center for Colorectal Issues at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 12, 2014Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has recruited an internationally renowned surgeon, Luis De la Torre, M.D., to establish the new Colorectal Center for Children that will serve as a resource for children from around the world with complex colorectal issues.

Children’s Colorectal Center for Children will provide multidisciplinary medical and surgical care for children who are born with or acquire issues of the bowel or rectum. Dr. De la Torre, who pioneered a unique, less invasive surgical approach to the treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of children with complex colorectal conditions, including anorectal malformations; cloaca; fecal incontinence; idiopathic constipation; bowel management; colostomy care; appendicostomy; colon polyps; anal fistula; anal abscesses; and colorectal problems in children with myelomeningocele.

“Dr. De la Torre is recognized as a leader in his field and his recruitment to Children’s enables us to establish a multidisciplinary center that focuses not only on the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, but on the quality of life of these patients,” said George K. Gittes, M.D., surgeon-in-chief at Children’s and the Benjamin R. Fisher Chair of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Dr. De la Torre is an innovative surgeon, but his focus is on providing comprehensive and ongoing care that allows children with these complex colorectal issues to return to lives that are as normal as possible.”

The Colorectal Center for Children will provide comprehensive diagnosis, appropriate treatment and intestinal rehabilitation for children with these complex disorders. The Center will include specialists within gastroenterology, pediatric surgery, and urology with additional training in colorectal diseases, and pediatric nurses specializing in the treatment of wounds, colostomies and bowel management. Pediatric radiologists and pathologists specializing in diseases of the colon also are a part of the center.

“One of the goals of the Colorectal Center is to help recover children’s quality of life and integration into society, including the possible challenges of puberty, sexual function and childbearing as they relate to colorectal issues,” said Dr. De la Torre, a surgeon in the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. De la Torre, also associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine, comes to Children’s from Hospital Ángeles Puebla in Mexico, where he was founding director of the Colorectal Center for Children and chief of Pediatric Surgery.

Dr. De la Torre completed his residency training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery at the Instituto Nacional de Pediatría at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, a hospital internationally known for contributions in the field of pediatric colorectal surgery. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric colorectal surgery at Schneider Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he trained under internationally known Alberto Pena, M.D.

Dr. De La Torre is author of more than 35 peer reviewed articles and numerous book chapters, with many focusing on Hirschsprung’s disease, rehabilitation of children with congenital, acquired and complicated colorectal diseases. He also belongs to the editorial committees of four pediatric surgery journals.

For more information about Dr. De la Torre and the Colorectal Center for Children, please visit www.chp.edu/CHP/colorectal+center+for+children.

Analysis of Telephone Calls to IBD Clinic Predicts Emergency Visits and Hospitalizations, Pitt Finds

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 7, 2014 – A comprehensive analysis of patient telephone records at an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) clinic revealed that 15 percent of patients account for half of all calls to the clinic. Forty-two percent of frequent-caller patients also were seen in the emergency department or hospitalized within the following year.

The results, which can help doctors identify patients with the most severe disease and those at risk of potentially avoidable high-cost medical interventions, were reported in a study published online this week in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) are chronic lifelong conditions which affect the gastrointestinal tract of up to 2 million Americans, the majority of whom are diagnosed as young adults. Telephone communication in IBD care is common, and involves reporting clinical status, treatment, reassurance, and completion of health care forms and insurance authorization. Yet, until now, there has been limited information on telephone activity volume or the reasons for calls in the care of chronic illness, including IBD.

“Telephone surveillance and the use of big data allowed us to find red flags identifying patients at risk of high-cost medical interventions, such as emergency department use and/or hospitalization. These findings can help to identify disease severity and teach us how to take better care of our patients,” noted senior author David Binion, M.D., visiting professor of medicine, clinical and translational science and co-director of the IBD Center at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Researchers tracked more than 50,000 phone calls over a period of two years, from over 3,000 patients. The researchers assessed associations between clinical factors and logged telephone encounters, and between patterns of telephone calls and future visits to the emergency room or hospitalization.

Calls were categorized into five groups:

  • Problem/follow-up (incoming calls from patients), representing 52 percent of all calls
  • Resolution/plan (outgoing calls to patients), representing 25 percent of all calls
  • Refill requests/pharmacy contacts, representing 12 percent of all calls
  • Insurance authorization, representing 10 percent of all calls
  • Completion of forms or record requests, representing 1 percent of all calls

Researchers also measured telephone encounters logged into electronic medical records in consented subjects from a prospective IBD research registry. Patients calling more than 10 times per year were considered high telephone encounters.

Results showed that:

  • Telephone calls are predictors of how likely patients are to enter the emergency room: clusters of phone calls over time were highly predictive of who ended up in the hospital over the course of the next year.
  • Frequent telephone calls correlated with:
    • Poorly controlled inflammation of IBD
    • Patients with a high degree of pain and difficulty coping

“We believe we will ultimately be able to use this information to prevent hospitalization, since we now have better insight into the heterogeneous factors which are getting our patients into trouble,” added Dr. Binion. “Our next step is to set up an intervention trial, where patterns of telephone activity will be used as an early warning strategy to identify at-risk patients. Perhaps the most important aspect of the study was its simplicity and generalizability, as records of telephone communication in health care are an important part of electronic health records available throughout the U.S.”

Mood-stabilizing Drug Could be New Treatment for Inherited Liver Disease, Says Pitt/Children’s Team

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 3, 2014 – Opening up a can of worms is a good way to start hunting for new drugs, recommend researchers from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In a study published today in the Public Library of Science One, they used a primitive worm model to show that a drug typically used to treat agitation in schizophrenia and dementia has potential as a treatment for α-1 antitrypsin (AT) deficiency, an inherited disease that causes severe liver scarring.

In the classic form of AT deficiency, which affects 1 in 3,000 live births, a gene mutation leads to production of an abnormal protein, dubbed ATZ, that unlike its normal counterpart is prone to clumping, explained David H. Perlmutter, M.D., physician-in-chief and scientific director, Children’s Hospital, and Distinguished Professor and Vira I. Heinz Endowed Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine.

“These protein aggregates accumulate in liver cells and eventually lead to scarring of the organ or to tumor formation,” Dr. Perlmutter said. “If we could find a drug that slows or stops this process, we might be able to prevent the need for liver transplantation in these patients.”

To find that drug, Dr. Perlmutter’s team worked with Pitt’s Stephen Pak, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, and Gary Silverman, M.D., Ph.D., Twenty-five Club Professor of Pediatrics, Cell Biology and Physiology, who developed a model of AT deficiency in Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans, a harmless microscopic worm or nematode typically found in soil. Previous experiments conducted by Drs. Pak and Silverman, in which more than 2,000 compounds were screened, showed that fluphenazine, a drug approved for human use as a mood stabilizer, could reduce ATZ accumulation in the worm, so the team studied it further.

Worms that produce ATZ die sooner than normal ones, which typically have a life span of fewer than 20 days.  Those that were exposed to fluphenazine, however, had lower burdens of ATZ and lived more than a day longer that untreated animals. The lifespan of normal worms was unchanged by fluphenazine exposure. The researchers also labeled with fluorescent markers intracellular structures called autophagosomes, which help clear abnormal proteins out of the cell in a process called autophagy. Fluphenazine exposure was associated with a greater presence of autophagosomes, suggesting that increased autophagy led to reduced ATZ accumulation.

Follow-up experiments showed that fluphenazine reduced ATZ accumulation in several mammalian-cell line models of AT deficiency, D. Silverman said.

“We found when we gave this drug for three weeks to mice with the disease, autophagy is activated, the abnormal protein load is diminished, and liver scarring is reversed. It’s truly amazing,” he said. “And because fluphenazine is already being safely prescribed for other conditions, it should be easier to bring it to clinical trials for AT deficiency.”

The project also reveals the power of the worm model to rapidly screen drug candidates, Dr. Perlmutter noted.

“This is the first extensive investigation of a drug that was discovered through the C. elegans screening method,” he said. “It’s remarkable that you can take a completely unbiased, high-content screen using a primitive organism and end up identifying a drug that reduces the accumulation of an abnormal protein in mammalian cell lines and a living mouse. It’s proof-of-principle of this research pipeline. Furthermore, this drug is very similar pharmacologically to carbamazepine, another mood stabilizer that we found to enhance autophagy and reverse liver fibrosis in the mouse model of α1-antitrypsin deficiency.”

Other co-authors of the paper include Jie Li, M.D., Ph.D., Linda P. O’Reilly, Ph.D., Joshua A. Benson, Yan Wang, Ph.D., Tunda Hidvegi, Ph.D., Pamela Hale, Christine Dippold, and Michael Ewing, all of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The project was funded by U.S. Public Health Service grants DK079806, DK081422, DK076918, and DK096990, and a grant from the Hartwell Foundation.

UPMC Physicians Offer Lectures Throughout the Region

UPMC has assembled a group of physician leaders from UPMC Passavant who will be available to make informal, informational presentations to small groups as well as larger audiences in western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, and eastern Ohio. These physicians represent a wide range of specialties and will discuss topics related to their specific clinical interests.

Physician presenters can discuss topics such as brain surgery, cardiac surgery, cardiology, colon and rectal surgery, orthopaedics, plastic and reconstructive surgery, spine surgery, surgical oncology, and vascular surgery.

The featured speakers include:

For more information about this new lecture series and specific topics, or to schedule a presentation, in western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, or eastern Ohio email OPRoutreach@upmc.edu.

Pitt Researchers Awarded More than $1 Million by NIH to Study New Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer Patients

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 2, 2014 – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a five-year grant of more than $1.5 million to Herbert J. Zeh III, M.D., and Michael T. Lotze, M.D., at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter, to study a novel treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), the most common form of pancreatic cancer

PDA is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The five-year survival of patients suffering from PDA is less than 5 percent.

The pair hypothesize that the cancer progresses and is difficult to treat because of a biological pathway called autophagy, a form of programmed cell survival that tumor cells use to avoid apoptosis, or cell death.

“It is our hope that blocking autophagy, a new approach to treating cancer, will improve the efficacy of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Dr. Lotze, professor of surgery, immunology and bioengineering, and assistant vice chancellor, University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.

“Our goal with this award is to improve the quality of life for patients with pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Zeh, associate professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology at UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter.

Pitt-Led Microbicide Trials Network Awarded $70 Million Over Seven Years to Develop, Test HIV Prevention Products

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 17, 2013 – With funding of $70 million to support its effort into 2021, the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) will continue to develop and test products that aim to reduce the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, federal officials announced yesterday. The extensive program, which is based at the University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI), has completed 13 trials since 2006; 11 more are in progress or will begin within the year; and several new studies will be designed and implemented during the next funding period.

The MTN was created in 2006 with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as well as the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health, all part of the National Institutes of Health. The new funding means the MTN will continue to serve as one of five NIAID HIV/AIDS clinical trials networks for the next seven years. The MTN  brings together international investigators and community and industry partners whose work is focused on the development and rigorous evaluation of promising microbicides, which are products applied inside the vagina or rectum that are intended to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.

“Although progress in the field of HIV prevention and treatment has been nothing short of breathtaking over the last decade, there are two groups who continue to have high rates of new HIV infections – young women and men who have sex with men. The MTN is focused on developing products to address their unmet needs.,” said co-principal investigator Sharon Hillier, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for faculty affairs, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and an MWRI member. “To address the HIV epidemic in young women, we currently are conducting a large Phase III trial of a vaginal ring that women use for a month at a time. Moving forward, we are committed to developing products that could prevent both HIV and unwanted pregnancy, which would empower young women to take charge of their own reproductive health.”

Another high-priority research area is to address the unmet need for new HIV prevention products for use by men who have sex with men, transgender women, and heterosexual women who have anal sex, said co-principal investigator Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Pitt School of Medicine, and an MWRI member.

“Ultimately, we want to identify a lubricant-like product that both men and women can use to protect themselves from acquiring HIV during anal sex,” he said. “Our entire scientific agenda is focused on conducting the kind of studies that can get safe and effective HIV prevention products approved for widespread use, whether these be vaginal or rectal microbicides. Clearly, we can’t end the HIV epidemic with condoms alone.”

The MTN is composed of three major components: a leadership and operations center, which is led by Drs. Hillier and McGowan; a laboratory center, based at MWRI and led by Charlene Dezzutti, Ph.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, Pitt School of Medicine; and a statistical data and management center based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The $70 million from NIAID supports the work of the MTN’s leadership and operations center and the laboratory center.

The network is affiliated with more than 25 clinical research sites in Africa, North America, South America and Asia, which are part of NIAID-funded clinical trials units (CTUs).

NIAID officials also announced today that Pitt has been awarded a seven-year, $8.7 million grant to continue as one of 37 CTUs for HIV/AIDS research. The CTUs are responsible for implementing the scientific agendas of NIAID’s networks. John Mellors, M.D., professor of medicine and chief, division of infectious diseases, Pitt School of Medicine, is the principal investigator for the unit, which will oversee MTN studies conducted at Pitt and studies of the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG), another NIH-funded clinical trials network, at research sites at Pitt and Ohio State University. Dr. Mellors also leads the virology cores of the MTN’s and ACTG’s laboratory centers and the ACTG’s efforts to cure HIV infection.

The MTN leadership and operations center is supported by NIAID grant UM1AI068633. The laboratory center is supported by NIAID grant UM1AI106707.

David Perlmutter, MD, Gives Hans Popper State-of-the-Art Lecture

On November 3, David H. Perlmutter, MD, delivered the Hans Popper State-of-the-Art Lecture as part of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) conference in Washington, DC. The Popper lecture is a keynote address at the annual meeting of AASLD and this year’s meeting occurred on the 50th anniversary of the discovery of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.  Dr. Perlmutter was selected because he is an internationally recognized leader in the liver disease caused by this deficiency and has recently developed several new drug treatment strategies.

The lecture was entitled, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency: Novel Treatment Strategies Fifty Years After Discovery, and described the history of the disease, what we have learned about its unique clinical sequellae, and novel treatment strategies that have originated from understanding the unique pathobiology.

David H. Perlmutter, MD, is the Vira I Heinz Endowed Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Cell Biology at the University and Physician-in-Chief and Scientific Director of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Dr. Perlmutter has carried out basic research on alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency for over 25 years. His work has led to many new concepts about the pathobiology of liver disease in this deficiency and has suggested several new concepts for chemoprophylaxis of chronic liver injury, hepatocellular carcinoma and emphysema in this genetic disease.

In 2010 he discovered a new pharmacological strategy that prevents liver damage in a mouse model of alpha- 1-antitrypsin deficiency and that strategy is now being tested in Phase II/III clinical trials. In his lecture he talked about how the first drug in the category of autophagy enhancers, carbamazepine, is being tested in individuals from 14 to 75 years of age with severe liver disease caused by alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.

He also talked about several other new drugs that have been discovered by his lab and a team of collaborators at University of Pittsburgh that are FDA-approved and can soon be tested in patients with this disease.  He emphasized that alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in children and that it is a much more common cause of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in adults than previously recognized.  Indeed it appears that the peak age for this liver disease is between 50 and 65 years of age.  The autophagy enhancer drugs currently being tested or in the pipeline give great hope that we will be able to effectively prevent the progression of this devastating liver disease in the near future.

For more about Dr. Perlmutter’s work, please visit his profile here.

For a complete listing of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh physicians and experts involved with the 2013 AASLD meeting, click here.

UPCI Researchers Target ‘Cell Sleep’ to Lower Chances of Cancer Recurrence

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 1, 2013 – An international research team led by University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) scientists discovered that by preventing cancer cells from entering a state of cellular sleep, cancer drugs are more effective, and there is a lower chance of cancer recurrence.
 
The findings, which will be published in the August 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research and are available online, are the first to show that it is possible to therapeutically target cancer cells to keep them from entering a cellular state called quiescence, or “cell sleep.” Quiescence can be a dangerous source of tumor recurrence because cancer drugs don’t typically destroy quiescent cells.
 
“Successful cancer therapy often is hampered by tumor cell quiescence because these cells remain viable and are a reservoir for tumor progression,” said Anette Duensing, M.D., assistant professor of pathology at UPCI. “By inhibiting a key regulator of quiescence, we are able to kill a larger fraction of cancer cells.”
 
Dr. Duensing and her colleagues made the discovery while studying gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), which are uncommon tumors that begin in the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5,000 cases of GISTs occur each year in the United States with an estimated five-year survival rate of 45 percent in patients with advanced disease.
 
GISTs are caused by a single gene mutation, which means they can be successfully treated with the targeted therapy drug imatinib, known by the trade name Gleevec. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which kills all rapidly dividing cells, targeted therapy stops cancer by interfering with specific molecules needed for tumor growth.
 
Unfortunately, GISTs rapidly develop resistance to the treatment and complete cancer remission using Gleevec is rare.
 
A key regulator of the cancer cell sleep process is a protein complex called DREAM, which is named for the multiple proteins involved. Gleevec induces cell sleep using the DREAM complex, which means that the drug intrinsically limits its own effectiveness.
 
“When we disrupted the DREAM complex in the lab, we significantly increased cancer cell death using Gleevec,” said Dr. Duensing. “This underscores the importance of the DREAM complex as a novel drug target worthy of preclinical and clinical investigations.”
 
The study is a collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium.
 
Additional co-authors of this study include Sergei Boichuk, M.D., Ph.D., Joshua A. Parry, B.S., Kathleen R. Makielski, M.S., Julianne L. Baron, B.S., James P. Zewe, B.S., Keith R. Mehalek, M.S., and Danushka S. Seneviratne, B.S., all of UPCI’s Cancer Virology Program; James A. DeCaprio, M.D., and Larisa Litovchick, Ph.D., both of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Patrick Schöffski, M.D., M.P.H., Maria Debiec-Rychter, M.D., Ph.D., and Agnieszka Wozniak, Ph.D., all of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium; and Nina Korzeniewski, Ph.D., of the University of Heidelberg School of Medicine in Germany.
 
This research was supported by Research Scholar Grant RSG-08-092-01-CCG from the American Cancer Society, the GIST Cancer Research Fund, The Life Raft Group and a number of private donations.

UPMC Again Earns Top-10 Spot on U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals

PITTSBURGH, July 16, 2013UPMC clinches the 10th place in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals for the second year in a row – again making it the highest-ranked medical center in Pennsylvania.
 
“This prestigious recognition speaks to the skill and commitment of UPMC physicians, nurses and staff as they continue to provide exceptional care to our community. UPMC is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our patients, and we are honored when our excellence in health care is recognized,” said Elizabeth Concordia, executive vice president of UPMC and president of the Hospital and Community Services Division. “We are proud that patients continue to choose us to deliver world-class care right here in western Pennsylvania.”
 
Nationally, UPMC is ranked for excellence in 15 of the 16 specialty areas, and is among the top 10 hospitals in eight specialties: Ear, Nose & Throat; Gastroenterology; Geriatrics; Gynecology; Neurology and Neurosurgery; Psychiatry; Pulmonology and Rheumatology.
 
Last month, U.S. News named its 2013 Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals, on which Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC ranked 10th. This year marks UPMC’s 14th appearance on the Honor Roll.
 
“UPMC’s national ranking highlights our unique combination of superb medical care, a leading health insurance plan and close ties to one of the nation’s best medical schools at the University of Pittsburgh,” added Steven Shapiro, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical and scientific officer, UPMC.  “We are proud to be a leader on the U.S. News Honor Roll — but, most importantly, to be leading the way in developing new and better ways of taking care of patients.”
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