2014 Awards

Anthony Fabio, PhD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology

Dara Mendez, PhD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology

“The Development of a Measure of Neighborhood Wellbeing for Pittsburgh Neighborhoods.”

The goal of this study is to develop, through the use of the data included in the Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System (PNCIS), a neighborhood wellbeing index. This index will be used as a guide for identifying neighborhoods with positive or negative attributes related to public health. We hypothesize that the index will be constructed from three domains: built, social and demographic.  We will validate the accuracy of the index in relation to a measure of collective efficacy. Our short term plan is to apply this index to two ongoing studies: (1) an analysis of the effects of the Consol Energy Center and the Rivers Casino on neighborhood level crime; and (2) the relationship between neighborhood environments and pregnancy and birth outcomes. In the long term, we anticipate that the development of this index will provide preliminary data for future NIH grant proposals related to: (1) neighborhood changes in alcohol outlet density and neighborhood violent crime, and (2) pregnancy and birth outcomes. Finally, we see this index as a resource for other researchers and advocates in the Pittsburgh community conducting work related to the influence of the neighborhood on health and well-being, particularly in addressing issues of equity in the region. Having indices of this type for our community can be invaluable for research and prevention activities. This methodology can be used for other cities as well.


Linda Barry Robertson, DrPH, RN, MSN

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

“Social stressors, air pollution, and cancer in Allegheny County.”

The overall goal of this study is to develop methods to explore multifaceted, and potentially interactive, risk factors for cancer — including exposures to neighborhood psychosocial stressors and air pollution, and individual factors including smoking, drinking, obesity, physical activity, and psychological distress. We also plan to accurately map local spatial patterns in two important risk factors for cancer – air pollution and psychosocial stress – towards developing refined, testable hypotheses on mechanistic pathways for different cancer outcomes. We anticipate that this pilot study will provide sufficient preliminary data to confirm the feasibility of our approach, and will highlight the importance of conducting a larger, more comprehensive research study (R01), using this multifaceted and multilevel approach, to better predict cancer risk.