UPMC Physician Resources

UPMC Patient First in U.S. Implanted with Hemolung Before Lifesaving Double Lung Transplant

PITTSBURGH, July 2, 2014 – Suffering from cystic fibrosis and rejecting the transplanted lungs he had gotten just two years ago, Jon Sacker, 33, came to UPMC from his hometown in Moore, Oklahoma, as a last resort. But when his carbon dioxide levels spiked, making him too sick for another transplant, his family feared the worst.

“I thought I had brought my husband here to die,” said Mr. Sacker’s wife, Sallie.

Instead, UPMC clinicians turned to a Pittsburgh-made device called the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System (RAS) that would filter out harmful carbon dioxide and provide healthy oxygen to his blood, giving Mr. Sacker a chance to gain enough strength to undergo a lifesaving transplant. In February, he became the first person in the U.S. to be implanted with the Hemolung RAS; in March, he underwent a double lung transplant and today is on the road to recovery.

“The entire series of events that led to this transplant and Jon’s recovery have been amazing,” said Christian Bermudez, M.D., chief of UPMC’s Division of Cardiothoracic Transplantation. “Jon had previously been very active and fit, and we knew we had to do whatever it took to help him.”

“Jon was in very critical condition when he came to Pittsburgh, and the Hemolung was a lifesaver for him while waiting for his second lung transplant. We are very proud of his good recovery,” said Mr. Sacker’s pulmonologist, Maria Crespo, M.D., associate medical director of UPMC’s Lung Transplant Program.

Many patients waiting for lungs or a heart use mechanical devices as a bridge to transplant. But doctors said Mr. Sacker was too sick for the traditional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. However, UPMC doctors knew about the Hemolung RAS, which removes carbon dioxide and delivers oxygen directly to the blood, allowing a patient’s lungs to rest and heal.

Several years before, William Federspiel, Ph.D., director of the Medical Devices Laboratory at the joint UPMC- and University of Pittsburgh-run McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, along with a designer fabricator and a bioengineering doctoral student, developed what was known as the Paracorporeal Respiratory Assist Lung. The device underwent product development and was commercialized by ALung Technologies as the renamed Hemolung RAS. ALung was founded by Dr. Federspiel and UPMC’s former chief of lung transplant, Brack G. Hattler, M.D.

“We had seen the Hemolung RAS used in other countries and wanted to do whatever we could to help this patient,” said Peter M. DeComo, chairman and chief executive of ALung Technologies.

Drs. Bermudez and Crespo worked with Diana Zaldonis, M.P.H., B.S.N., in the Division of Cardiac Surgery, to notify Food and Drug Administration officials of the intent to use the Hemolung RAS, which isn’t approved for use in the U.S., and to get emergency approval from the local hospital officials. Meanwhile, Mr. DeComo drove with another ALung official in the middle of the night to Toronto, where the closest Hemolung RAS was available.

“Jon’s story is a tremendous example of the depth of the work we do here every day. Most hospitals across the country couldn’t handle a situation as complex as Jon’s, but we can because of our collective experience and an extensive team that includes transplant surgeons, pulmonologists, nurses and so many more,” said James D. Luketich, M.D., chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “

Mr. Sacker will remain in Pittsburgh for several months during his recovery, with his wife splitting her time between here and their hometown in Oklahoma. He said he’s looking forward to getting back home, where he had been a runner and public speaker spreading the word about the importance of organ donation after writing the book “Imperfect Perfection.”

“Out of all of the transplant centers we could have come to, we came here to Pittsburgh,” he said. “It’s a miracle that’s just not explainable. You just have to thank God.”

News Directors: Video is available of Mr. Sacker on the Hemolung RAS device at http://youtu.be/Uwe1-LN8P-4.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Appoints Dario Vignali, Ph.D., New Vice-Chair of Immunology

PITTSBURGH, June 30, 2014 – Renowned researcher Dario Vignali, Ph.D., will join the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on July 1 as the vice-chair of the Department of Immunology. He also will co-direct both the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the recently expanded Tumor Microenvironment Center.

According to Mark Shlomchik, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Immunology, “Dr. Vignali is an eminent scientist with a stellar publication record. For the last two decades, he has produced innovative research focusing on identifying and understanding the disease pathways that prevent the immune system from eliminating cancer cells, as well as the causes of autoimmune disorders.”

“We now stand at an unprecedented point in time when immunotherapy is starting to have a substantial impact on clinical care,” said Dr. Vignali. “We have a growing list of novel targets for further therapeutic development and powerful new tools for genomic and mechanistic analysis.”

He plans to continue and expand his research in his new role at Pitt; one of his labs, in the Department of Immunology, will focus on analysis of immune cell function in mouse model systems and disease models of cancer and autoimmune disease, and his second lab, at UPCI, will work on inhibitory immune pathways in human cancers.

Dr. Vignali’s research findings have been published in some of immunology’s leading journals, and he has been awarded five patents worldwide with several more awaiting approval. He also is a current member of the scientific advisory boards at two biopharmaceutical companies.

Since 1993, Dr. Vignali worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as vice-chair of its immunology department since 2008. He taught in the Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center since 1996.

He received his undergraduate education at North East London Polytechnic, now East London University, and completed his doctoral studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the University of London. Dr. Vignali completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one at the Institute for Immunology and Genetics at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, and the second in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University.

Dr. Vignali moved to Pittsburgh with his wife, Kate, who works as a scientist in his laboratory, and two of their four children.

Sex Hormone Levels at Midlife Linked to Bad Cholesterol Carriers that Increase Heart Disease Risk in Women

PITTSBURGH, June 27, 2014 – As hormone levels change during the transition to menopause, the quality of a woman’s cholesterol carriers degrades, leaving her at greater risk for heart disease, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health discovered.

The first-of-its-kind evaluation, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was done using an advanced method to characterize cholesterol carriers in the blood and is published in the July issue of the Journal of Lipid Research.

The results call for further research to evaluate the menopause-related dynamic changes in sex hormones on the quality of cholesterol carriers over time, as well as increased emphasis on the importance of healthy diet and exercise for women undergoing menopause.

“Higher levels of HDL, or what we know as ‘good cholesterol,’ may not always be as protective as we had thought before,” said lead investigator Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology.

Dr. El Khoudary explains that normal levels of LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” do not imply normal cholesterol levels in all individuals. Rather, quality of cholesterol carriers may provide more accurate information about risk related to levels of cholesterol.

“We found that lower levels of estradiol, one of the main hormonal changes that mark menopause, are associated with low-quality cholesterol carriers, which have been found to predict risk for heart disease,” she said. “Our results suggest that there may be value in using advanced testing methods to evaluate changes in cholesterol carriers’ quality in women early in menopause so that doctors can recommend appropriate diet and lifestyle changes.”

Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream in small particles called lipoproteins, or cholesterol carriers. Conventional blood tests show the amount of cholesterol carried by these lipoproteins, rather than the characteristics of the lipoproteins themselves. There are two major types of lipoproteins: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries, and low density lipoprotein (LDL), the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. Research studies have shown that the characteristics of LDL and HDL particles, including the number and size of these particles, significantly predict risk of heart disease.

Previous studies evaluating the associations between sex hormones and cardiovascular disease as women went through menopause looked only at cholesterol measured through conventional blood tests. Dr. El Khoudary and her colleagues used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure the size, distribution and concentration of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood.

The Pitt Public Health team found that as estrogen levels fall, women have higher concentrations of low-quality, smaller, denser LDL and HDL particles, which are associated with greater risk of heart disease. The conventional blood tests often don’t pick up on such a nuance in particle size.

The study evaluated 120 women from Pittsburgh who were enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were an average of 50 ½ years old and not on hormone replacement therapy.

SWAN is an ongoing study of the biological, physical, psychological and social changes in more than 3,000 middle aged women who were recruited at seven sites across the U.S. The goal is to help scientists, health care providers and women learn how mid-life experiences affect health and quality of life during aging.

“As a woman transitions to menopause, many biological changes take place that can put her at greater risk of many conditions, including osteoporosis and heart disease,” said Dr. El Khoudary. “Our most recent study underscores the importance of having clinicians aware of these risk factors and prepared to work with their patient to help her best mitigate these risks.”

Dr. El Khoudary is collaborating with other scientists to identify funding to study a larger sample of women over time to definitively tie changes in hormone levels and the quality of cholesterol carriers with heart disease.

Additional authors on this study are Maria M. Brooks, Ph.D., Rebecca C. Thurston, Ph.D., and Karen A. Matthews, Ph.D., all of Pitt.

This research is supported by NIH grants U01NR004061, U01AG012505, U01AG012535, U01AG012531, U01AG012539, U01AG012546, U01AG012553, U01AG012554, U01AG012495, HL065581 and HL065591.

Lowering Toxicity of New HIV Drugs Predicted to Improve Life Expectancy

PITTSBURGH, June 25, 2014 – While bringing new drugs to market is important for increasing life expectancy in younger people with HIV, lowering the toxicity of those drugs may have an even greater health impact on all HIV patients, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis reveals.

The research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published June 25  in the journal PLOS ONE, used a computer simulation to examine what would happen if guidelines for starting HIV treatment took into account the rate of new drug development and the toxicity of those drugs.

“The side effects of treatment remain one of the primary reasons that HIV drug regimens are discontinued,” said senior author Mark Roberts, M.D., M.P.P., professor and chair of Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “By decreasing the toxicity and side effects of HIV drugs, you increase the amount of time that patients can stay on that life-saving treatment regimen. Some side effects, such as increased cardiovascular risk, also cause problems that directly contribute to premature mortality.”

The simulation, which built upon a model developed at New York University School of Medicine, found that if the toxicity of new HIV drugs is reduced compared to existing drugs, those new drugs will increase the patient’s quality-adjusted life expectancy by as much as 11 percent, or more than 3 years.

“Quality-adjusted life years” and “quality-adjusted life expectancy” are measures that analysts use to determine the value of different medical actions. For example, a potentially life-saving drug that was highly toxic and left a patient debilitated would have a lower value than a life-saving drug that didn’t have such side effects.

New HIV drugs are approved for market nearly twice a year and recently revised World Health Organization guidelines on the initiation of HIV treatment recommend that, with this rate of drug development, all HIV patients start treatment before their immune system is significantly compromised.

Pitt Public Health’s simulation backed this recommendation, finding that, even at current drug toxicity levels, young people with HIV add nearly two years to their lives by initiating HIV treatment regimens soon after infection.

Antiretroviral therapy for HIV typically consists of the combination of at least three drugs that help control HIV. However, over time, these drugs become less effective.

In younger patients, doctors have tended to wait longer to start antiretroviral therapy because those patients will have to be on the drugs the longest in order to live an average lifespan. As such, they’ll need the drugs to be effective longer and have fewer side effects.

“This availability of new drugs means that as the drugs a patient is on become less effective, doctors can adjust the therapy to use a new, more effective drug,” said Dr. Roberts. “And if that new drug has a low toxicity and is well-tolerated by the patient, then they are more likely to take it regularly so that it is as effective as possible.”

Additional researchers on this study are Amin Khademi, Ph.D., of Clemson University; R. Scott Braithwaite, M.D., M.S., and Kimberly Nucifora, M.S., both of New York University; Denis Saure, Ph.D., of the University of Chile; and Andrew J. Schaefer, Ph.D., of Pitt.

This research was funded by NSF grant CMMI-0546960, NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant 1R01AI099970 and NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant 1R01AA017385.

Pitt Researchers Receive $1.8 Million to Build Unique ECG Database, Study Effectiveness of CPR

PITTSBURGH, June 24, 2014 – University of Pittsburgh researchers have received $1.8 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, to create a unique database of electrocardiogram (ECG) information that could one day be used to better guide real-time decision making during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for cardiac arrest. The database would be the largest repository of its kind and could lead to new ways to evaluate CPR and patient outcomes.

“We will make use of this information to better understand how the quality of CPR might change the ECG patterns, and then link that to the outcomes of the patient all the way to discharge. If we can see what works best, we can further refine CPR interventions and save more lives,” said lead investigator James Menegazzi, Ph.D., Endowed Professor of Resuscitation Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Nearly 351,000 Americans experience a sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital, and fewer than 7 percent survive to hospital discharge. Many of those patients suffer from ventricular fibrillation (VF), a condition in which erratic contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart impairs the pumping of blood to the lungs and the body. VF is a common cause of cardiac arrest and typically is treated with defibrillation, or a shock, to correct the rhythm, which can look like irregular waves or spikes on the ECG.

The multi-center study will examine data from 10,000 ECG reports collected by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC), a clinical research network funded by the NHLBI. The research team has created a data management and analytic platform that converts ECG information into a uniform format, which will allow them to identify and measure waveform differences and assess which VF episodes respond better to defibrillation than others.

Dr. Menegazzi and his team will examine ECG and clinical data from the ROC to identify associations between specific VF patterns and clinical presentations, CPR quality and patient survival rates.

Depressive Symptoms Associated With Premature Mortality in Type 1 Diabetes

PITTSBURGH, June 16, 2014 – People with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of premature death as their number of depressive symptoms increases, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis reveals.

The findings were presented in a press conference at the American Diabetes Association’s 74th Scientific Sessions in San Francisco and used data collected through the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, a long-term study of health complications in people with type 1 diabetes.

“Through the 25 years that we’ve been running this study, we’ve found that there’s a lot more to diabetes than high blood sugar,” said senior author Trevor Orchard, M.D., professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “This link between premature mortality and depression adds to our previous findings, which show that depressive symptomatology predicts cardiovascular disease and demonstrates that doctors need to consider more than adjusting insulin doses when treating type 1 diabetes.”

Lead author Cassie Fickley, M.P.H., C.P.H., analyzed data on 458 study participants with type 1 diabetes who were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory, a 32-point scale that measures depressive symptoms ranging from loss of appetite to suicidal tendencies. People who score 16 or more points are considered likely to be clinically depressed.

“For every one-point increase on the scale, participants showed a 4 percent increase in risk for mortality, even after controlling for other relevant factors, such as age, gender, smoking, cholesterol levels and high blood pressure,” said Ms. Fickley, a doctoral student in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “That’s a significant increase and is something we’ll need to explore more to determine if treating depression would translate into lower mortality in people with type 1 diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and happens when the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar into energy. The disease can lead to nerve, kidney, eye and heart complications but can be controlled with insulin therapy and other treatments.

The Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study is an investigation to document long-term complications of type 1 diabetes among patients at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh between 1950 and 1980. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study recently was renewed for another five years.

“It is thanks to the volunteers who participate in this study that we are able to make discoveries like this that will contribute to better therapies and life expectancy for children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes today and in the future,” said Dr. Orchard.

Additional authors on this study are Tina Costacou, Ph.D., of Pitt; and Cathy E. Lloyd, Ph.D., of the Open University in the United Kingdom.

Viral Infections, Including Flu, Could Be Inhibited by Naturally Occurring Protein, UPCI Finds

PITTSBURGH, June 12, 2014 – By boosting a protein that naturally exists in our cells, an international team of researchers led by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter, has found a potential way to enhance our ability to sense and inhibit viral infections.The laboratory-based discovery, which could lead to more effective treatments for viruses ranging from hepatitis C to the flu, appears in the June 19 issue of the journal Immunity. The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

“Despite remarkable advances in vaccination and treatment, diseases caused by viral infections remain among the leading causes of death worldwide,” said senior author Saumendra N. Sarkar, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at UPCI. “We need new defenses against viral infections, and our discovery is proving to be a promising avenue for further exploration.”

Dr. Sarkar and his team made the discovery while investigating a protein called oligoadenylate synthetases-like, or OASL, which appears in increased quantities in people with liver cancer caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis C, influenza, the childhood respiratory illness RSV, and many other viruses are known as ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses, which use RNA as their genetic material when they replicate. The OASL protein enhances cells’ ability to detect virus RNA, activating the immune system to sense the virus and inhibit replication.

In laboratory tests, boosting this protein in human cells effectively inhibits viral replication. Conversely, mice that do not have OASL were found to be much more susceptible to viral infections.

The finding is especially notable because it may offer an alternative to interferons, another kind of protein that is made and released by cells in response to viruses. Interferons are used in therapy against some viral infections, including hepatitis C, but are not effective for other RNA viruses, such as influenza. Interferon therapy also has major side effects, and not all patients respond well to treatment.

Dr. Sarkar and his team plan to determine the most efficient way to boost the OASL pathway in patients and are working with pulmonologists to develop and identify funding for a study to evaluate the effect of boosting OASL in people with lung infections.

“The respiratory system is a much easier target to deliver this type of therapy, compared to an organ, such as the liver, so we’ll be starting with infections like RSV,” said Dr. Sarkar. “From there we could branch out to other RNA viruses and perhaps find effective ways to boost our inherent immunity against a broad range of viral infections.”

Additional authors on this study are Jianzhong Zhu, Ph.D., Yugen Zhang, Ph.D., Arundhati Ghosh, Ph.D., Rolanodo A. Cuevas, M.S., Adriana Forero, Ph.D., Madhavi K. Ganapathiraju, Ph.D., Carolyn B. Coyne, Ph.D., all of Pitt; Jayeeta Dhar, Ph.D., and Sailen Barik, Ph.D., both of Cleveland State University; Mikkel Søes Ibsen, M.S., and Rune Hartmann, Ph.D., both of Aarhus University in Denmark; Jonathan Leo Schmid-Burgk, M.S., Tobias Schmidt, M.S., and Veit Hornung, Ph.D., all of the University of Bonn in Germany; and Takashi Fujita, Ph.D., of Kyoto University in Japan.

This research was supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant no. AI082673 and UPCI.

Experimental Baby Formula Doesn’t Prevent Development of Antibodies Associated with Type I Diabetes in Early Childhood

First Large Trial of Type I Diabetes Prevention Approach Still Underway

PITTSBURGH, June 10, 2014 – Early findings from the first large international trial to try to prevent type I diabetes show that infants at risk for the disease who were fed a special baby formula that lacks complex cow milk proteins still made antibodies against the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas by the time the youngest children studied were six years old. Previous studies suggested the experimental formula might prevent the development of the auto-antibodies, which represent inflammatory changes in the organ.

But that doesn’t mean the children will definitely develop type I diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), as they get older, caution researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, which is the coordinating center for the American arm of the study. The findings were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In type I diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks its own pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. That autoimmune process is thought to start very early in life, explained U.S. principal investigator Dorothy Becker, MBBCh, professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Some smaller studies and animal experiments have shown that exposure during infancy to complex foreign proteins, such as the cow milk proteins in conventional baby formula, is associated with the presence of these autoimmune antibodies in children who have a parent or sibling with the condition and other indications of genetic risk.

“This has been a controversial issue, in part because different natural history studies have come to different conclusions,” Dr. Becker said. “We hope that when our intervention trial concludes in February 2017, which is when all the participating children will be at least 10 years old, we should have enough evidence to say whether or not this experimental formula can prevent them from getting Type I diabetes.”

From 2002 to 2007 at 78 study sites in 15 countries, the “Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk,” or TRIGR, research group randomly assigned 1,078 high-risk infants to be weaned to a “hydrolyzed” formula made almost completely with smaller, less complex casein proteins and 1,081 to get conventional formula, which is made with 80 percent cow milk proteins and 20 percent of the hydrolyzed casein protein. The two formulas were similar in taste and smell so that neither the parents nor researchers could tell the difference between them. Each baby’s parents made their own decisions about breastfeeding and age of weaning to formula.

Blood samples from the umbilical cord and at three, six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months of age, and yearly after that to age 10, were tested for antibody levels. After an average of seven years of follow-up — the youngest participants are now six — the researchers found no differences in antibody levels between the two groups.

“This tells us that the kind of formula the baby drinks doesn’t affect the inflammatory changes going on in the pancreas,” Dr. Becker said. “But it doesn’t tell us yet whether they will develop diabetes. In one animal study, mice that were fed the experimental formula had the inflammatory markers, but diabetes was almost totally prevented using the same experimental formula. That could be the case with these children, too.”

The TRIGR study group includes the Data Management Unit and researchers from six centers in the U.S., centers in Scandinavia led by the University of Helsinki, and centers throughout Canada, Australia and Europe.

The project was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, both part of the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers HD040364, HD042444 and 338 HD051997); the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; and the Commission of the European Communities.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Named One of America’s Top 10 Children’s Hospitals

PITTSBURGH, June 10, 2014 – Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has been named one of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.

Children’s Hospital ranks ninth on the magazine’s 2014-15 Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals, which was released today. Children’s also ranks in each of the 10 pediatrics specialties ranked by U.S. News. This is the fifth consecutive year Children’s has been named to U.S. News’ Honor Roll.

The Best Children’s Hospitals rankings highlight the top 50 U.S. pediatric hospitals in each of 10 specialties: cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; diabetes and endocrinology; gastroenterology and GI surgery; neonatology; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopaedics; pulmonology; and urology.

Children’s ranked in the top 25 of all 10 specialties, including fifth in diabetes and endocrinology; sixth in gastroenterology and GI surgery; sixth in pulmonology; eighth in neonatology; and ninth in neurology and neurosurgery.

“Our inclusion on the honor roll and our rankings in each of the 10 specialties speaks to the breadth and depth of our clinical programs,” said Christopher Gessner, Children’s president. “It speaks to the expertise and commitment of our physicians, nurses and other staff who make Children’s Hospital a global leader in pediatric health care.”

The 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings will be released online today and also will be published in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2015 guidebook, available in August.

In addition to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the other hospitals named to U.S. News’ Honor Roll of Best Children’s Hospitals for 2014-15 are:

  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston
  • Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
  • Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore

UPMC Expands Reach in Italy with Outpatient Diagnostic Center

PITTSBURGH, June 6, 2014 – Adding to its successful transplant and cancer treatment facilities in Italy, UPMC announced today that it is expanding its Italian operations to include outpatient diagnostic services for liver and digestive disorders in the Region of Tuscany.

UPMC is managing and operating the new center, the UPMC Institute for Health, at the Terme di Chianciano Spa in Chianciano Terme. Located near Siena, between Florence and Rome, the facility will build on the traditional attraction of the spa’s thermal water therapies and is expected to attract patients from throughout Italy and beyond when it opens on June 9, 2014.

The new center will offer diagnostic screenings, imaging and procedures for liver and digestive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other illnesses. Patients also will be educated about personal risk factors, healthy lifestyle and diet. Those who need more advanced care may be referred to local hospitals or to other UPMC facilities in Italy, namely the ISMETT transplant hospital in Palermo and the UPMC San Pietro Cancer Center in Rome.

“Building on our long reputation for clinical excellence in Italy, we are proud to expand our high-quality services into a new region of the country,” said Charles Bogosta, president of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division. “This popular destination for patients will now have the only facility in the area that can offer a complete digestive check-up in a place that already draws thousands of people every year to its healing waters.”

UPMC is partnering with Terme di Chianciano, a company that operates and manages historical thermal premises in the region, as well as with the municipality and the local health care authority. UPMC is leasing and renovating the spa’s existing medical center.

“With UPMC’s clinical, scientific and management know-how and the well-established treatments of Chianciano Spa, this partnership will deliver a higher level of services to patients in one convenient location,” said Bruno Gridelli, M.D., medical and scientific director of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services Division and chief executive officer of ISMETT.

UPMC’s international footprint already includes operations or services in Italy, Ireland, India, Canada, China, Singapore, Japan and Kazakhstan. Through its international growth and commercialization efforts with industry partners, UPMC is diversifying its revenue base, fueling economic development in its communities, and strengthening its ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest clinicians who are working together to improve health care outcomes globally.

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