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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Pittsburgh’s One Book, One Community Program: an Interdisciplinary Cancer Collaboration

Faculty, students and staff at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health are paying particularly close attention to cancer and working to enhance interdisciplinary collaborations to fight the disease.

Each of Pitt Public Health’s seven departments employs its own critical lens for exploring how to prevent disease and promote population health. Whether learning from colleagues with diverse expertise, expanding our depth of knowledge, or exploring avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration, we constantly seek creative solutions to complex public health issues. Since 2009, the One Book, One Community (OBOC) program has encouraged interdisciplinary collaborations across the school about just such challenges.  The 2017 – 18 OBOC book selection, The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer, takes one important concept of health — cancer — and examines its evolution from a variety of perspectives: patient, surgeon, chemotherapist, molecular biologist, and public health official.

The primary OBOC component, a school-wide “communal read”, is facilitated by introducing the selection at the new student orientation, sharing information on the school webpage, encouraging core course instructors to integrate associated readings and hosting an annual main event that convenes students, faculty and staff for a presentation and discussion. In addition, alumni, families, and friends are also invited to get involved and read along.

This year’s main OBOC event, held in November, was a panel discussion highlighting ongoing Pitt Public Health cancer research and the need for multiple approaches in order to effectively improve health at the local, national, and international scales.  Dr. Patricia L. Opresko, associate professor in the department of environmental and occupational health, shared her work addressing genomic alterations that hasten the progression to cancer.  Dr. Jian-Min Yuan, professor in the department of epidemiology and the holder of the Arnold Palmer Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention, addressed his work on the role of dietary atoxin and retinol in the risk and protection of liver cancer. Dr. Patricia I. Documét, associate professor in the department of behavioral and community health sciences, discussed the results of her feasibility study using a group visit as an innovative method for cancer screening among Latinas. Finally, Dr. Lindsay M. Sabik, associate professor in the department of health policy and management, shared recent work investigating the role of Medicaid policy in breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women and disparities in screening and outcomes.

Additional OBOC events this year include screenings of the PBS Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies documentary series, a talk by Ms. Theresa Brown (author, former oncology nurse and breast cancer patient) and two OBOC community action components. The school is also soliciting donations for the UPMC Hillman Cancer Care Carts including comfort care items given free of charge to patients receiving treatment. Pitt Public Health raised awareness through a “Colors of Support” display in our ground floor lobby. The display illustrated our community’s commitment to Cancer awareness and activism by displaying race related memorabilia collected from faculty, students and staff.

The OBOC program has become a signature Pitt Public Health program and is an example of a successful school-wide initiative to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations through reading.

Read more on the OBOC program

Specifics of this year’s program will be shared as a poster presentation at the ASPPH Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 8 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.