HEALTH /​SCIENCE

Laugh out loud

David Russell isn’t a stand-​up comedian. But without much effort, he regularly gets a room full of people laughing for a good 20 minutes or so. Russell is among a handful of certified laughter yoga leaders in the Pittsburgh area. A laugh is often the response he gets when he…

Catching the Fall

A broken bone early in life is typically painful and a nuisance. Late in life, it can be devastating. “Among the elderly, bone fractures — particularly in the hip, wrist and back — can lead to long-​term disability and death,” says Jane Cauley, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of…

Can Venture Capital Help Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

In 1988, Jeffrey L. Morby left American Express to join the management team tapped to rescue the nearly bankrupt Mellon Bank. After helping turn Mellon around, he retired at 59, but Morby has hardly been wiling away the time.

The Cholesterol Conundrum

Cholesterol was first discovered in 1769, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that scientists linked these oily molecules in our blood to atherosclerosis — when artery walls become thick with plaque, potentially triggering a heart attack or stroke. Since then, many have devoted their lives to understanding cholesterol. It’s a…

Ancient Dig

Twelve thousand years ago, a Native American hunter left a flint spear point at a campsite beneath an overhanging rock along Cross Creek, a tributary of the Ohio River some 29 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. The three-​inch by one-​inch point was a re-​sharpened remnant of a larger spear or arrow…

Insurance innovations

Ask someone about their health insurance plan and you wouldn’t expect to hear, “I’m having a great experience.” Health insurance is expensive and difficult to understand. And in the Pittsburgh region, many have, not surprisingly, grown tired of the very public battle between the area’s largest insurer and largest provider — Highmark…

Quantum Couple

He grew up in Manhattan; she, in Patna, India. Both were taken with the way physics accounts for the world around them. After completing undergraduate studies at Harvard and the Indian Technology Institute, respectively, they met as first-​year physics doctoral students at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Upon arrival…

Genomic Stimulus

Not long ago, one of the nation’s most dreaded diseases was polio, paralyzing and sometimes killing its victims. Fortunately, polio proved no match for medicine. Just as polio reached its peak in 1952 with 57,000 new cases, a University of Pittsburgh team, led by Dr. Jonas Salk, was testing a…

DNA Decoding: An Economic Driver

Mapping the entire human DNA blueprint was ultimately done to advance medicine, but it has had a bonus impact: giving a jump start to a stagnating economy.

Healthful Discoveries

We brush to stave off cavities and bad breath. But it may even help us avoid major diseases. Research shows that the plaque build-​up in our mouths may contribute to plaque build-​up in our brains and heart arteries.

The Genius of Pitt

Kevin Guskiewicz has been called a genius for discovering the link between on-​field head hits to football players and damage to their brains; findings that once put him at odds with the mighty National Football League.

Shall We Dance?

Don Shepherd may have stumbled upon the closest thing to the fountain of youth. While millions of Americans — and Steelers fans — tuned in to watch Hines Ward glide and smile his way across the dance floor in “Dancing with the Stars,” Shepherd was leading his own dance partner.

Breakthrough

On a hot afternoon in late summer 2010, a man in his 30s drove an all-​terrain vehicle on an unpaved path. He was doing nearly 40 miles per hour on rough terrain. And though he was strong — a construction worker by trade — his ATV hit a bump for which he wasn’t prepared.

Uncharted Territory

Science and technology march along, year after year, making gradual progress in transforming our lives. Every now and again, however, a public event is staged — the moon landing, a computer playing a chess champion, decoding the human genome — that gives the public the appearance of a breakthrough.
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