HEALTH /​SCIENCE

Rethinking depression

Growing up in New Castle, Brenda Weingartner, 53, was a teenager when she had her first of many bouts with depression. “Back then, my parents didn’t have a good understanding of mental illness and what to do for it,” she said. “My mother’s suggestion was to go talk to the…

Sudden goodbye

In 1967, we arrived at our island cottage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and of course, the first thing we kids did was explore our distantly familiar summer home. On that particular day, we found a bat inert on the dining room floor.

The awe of night

For nearly three centuries, a scientific debate lingered about the brilliant rings rotating around Saturn: Were they solid discs or made of some other matter?

Is better good enough?

A standing-​room-​only audience has packed the Avalon Municipal Building on a rain-​soaked April evening to hear Allegheny County Health Department officials explain the latest consent decree to correct air quality violations at the coke works across the river. It’s a tough crowd.

Who’s afraid of Obamacare?

In 1998, Bob McCafferty set out to start a business that would pay the bills and give him more free time to go camping. He bought a run-​down funeral parlor dating to the 1850s. For the next several years, he spent nights restoring the building while holding down jobs as…

Three percent of you isn’t you

by Kelly Casey
Susan Lambie was desperate. It was the summer of 2009 and her mother’s health was deteriorating rapidly. What began as a cold turned into pneumonia. Then her mom developed Clostridium difficile — a nasty bacterium that causes severe diarrhea.

Kissing my privacy goodbye

I first became aware that my online privacy wasn’t nearly as confidential as I thought while shopping online with my sister who lives in Florida. Separated by 1,000 miles, phones pressed to our ears, eyes glued to computer screens, my price for a particular web cam was a bargain at…

Too fat too young

by Kelly Casey
Michelle Penn-​Nored of Penn Hills has been dealing with type 2 diabetes since her late 40s. She’s determined to keep her daughter from having the same fate.

Life under pressure

We’ve all experienced it: Our heart suddenly starts pounding, adrenaline courses through our legs and, unintentionally, we shout a profanity. Our body’s automatic response systems are helping us deal with a sudden stressful situation so we have the energy to act quickly, like when another driver cuts us off.

What we say (and do) about the environment

Lori Rieger and Kim Haynes are strolling Point State Park on a July afternoon that is sunny, hot and humid enough to notice. It’s the kind of day that invites ozone pollution to accumulate at levels that violate federal air quality standards, which is something Pittsburgh and the region do…

Halting the Revolving Hospital Door

by Kelly Casey
For years, hospitals focused on getting patients home as quickly as possible — and applauded themselves for short length of stays. But five years ago, a landmark New England Journal of Medicine study showed that as many as one in five Medicare patients bounced back to the hospital within 30 days of…

The STEM dilemma

When Elizabeth Roeske was growing up in the small New Jersey town of Salem, she seemed a natural for a career in science. Several members of her family are scientists, and she was planning to study chemistry and environmental science in college. But she found little peer support — “No one from…

Mind Over Matter

“Let me eat chocolate.” That was quadriplegic Jan Scheuermann’s simple request when she committed to a trailblazing UPMC and Pitt School of Medicine study that would let her control a robotic arm with her mind.

A Sustainable Aesthetic

What is sustainable, or green architecture, anyway, and what is it supposed to look like? The fact remains that the operation of buildings uses 40 percent of the earth’s energy resources, so construction aimed at reducing that consumption is both admirable and necessary. But do you know it when you…

Heart Trouble in your Future?

by Kelly Casey
A prominent cardiologist calls it “one of the worst examples of medicine gone wild.” Other physicians say it is a useful tool when used in the right patient for the right reason. Still others think it’s somewhat underutilized in healthcare.
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