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Advances in Health and Medicine

Pitt Researchers Fight Deadly Diseases

From polio to cancer, Pitt researchers have a long history of fighting, and beating, deadly illnesses. Pitt’s Center for Vaccine Research continues the battle.


In 1955, Jonas Salk and his team of researchers at Pitt developed the first polio vaccine, which on April 12, 1955, was announced as “safe, effective, and potent” following an unprecedented nationwide clinical trial.

Professor Elodie Ghedin’s team focuses on defining genomic characteristics of human parasites and other pathogens, research that could treat illnesses related to virus evolution. She was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow for her work as a leader coordinating international efforts to decode pathogenic function. Watch Ghedin discuss her work (YouTube).

Pitt’s Center for Global Health “is a catalyst for change,” says epidemiologist Donald Burke, associate vice chancellor for global health, UPMC-Jonas Salk Professor of Global Health, and dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. Watch a video on Burke.

Pitt microbiologist Sharon Hillier is the principal investigator for the Microbicide Trials Network, an HIV/AIDS clinical trials network established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases.

Pitt oncologist Nancy E. Davidson directs UPMC Cancer Centers and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, one of the nation’s top-tier cancer centers with $120 million in research grants and a designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center from the National Cancer Institute.

Pitt commemorated the 30th anniversary of smallpox’s elimination and honored D.A. Henderson, currently a Pitt professor of public health and medicine and Distinguished Scholar in UPMC’s Center for Biosecurity, with an event to launch his bookSmallpox—The Death of a Disease: The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer.