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The Products of Pittsburgh podcast is about the people in Pittsburgh – innovators, scientists, community leaders – and the remarkable stories behind how they came to be and the work they have produced.

Have ideas about who you would like to learn more about? Know someone having a positive impact on the Pittsburgh community? Let us know by emailing us at ctsipodcast@pitt.edu.

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Lending a Hand in Health: Laurel Yasko

March 17, 2021

Laurel began her career as a nurse at a long-term care facility before eventually transitioning into the field of neurology, caring for head injury and stroke patients. Her experience with research eventually led to her current role as executive director of operations at Pitt CTSI. Despite her best efforts to rebel, Laurel ended up following a path similar to that of one very special person.

About Yasko

Laurel Yasko, MPPM, RN is the Executive Director of Operations at the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) where she is also Co-Director of the Regulatory Knowledge and Support Core as well as the Workforce Development Core. Yasko received her BS and MPPM degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

Getting the Diagnosis Right: Sarah Wheeler

February 17, 2021

Sarah’s interest in clinical chemistry and diagnostic testing brought her back to Pittsburgh, where today she is both a translational researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and the medical director for multiple UPMC testing laboratories. Her expertise in diagnostics, though, may be rivaled by her talent as a competitive dancer.

About Wheeler

Sarah Wheeler, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh, Medical Director of the Automated Testing Laboratory at UPMC Mercy and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and Associated Medical Director for Clinical Immunopathology at UPMC. She is a Pitt Innovation Challenge awardee and a COVID-19 pilot grant awardee. Wheeler received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.

Improving LGBTQ+ Health: Robert Coulter

November 18, 2020

Robert is designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions aimed at reducing violence and substance use inequities for sexual and gender minority youth. But before becoming a professor and researching the dynamics of LGBTQ+ health inequities, Robert was surrounded by theoretical numbers and too many oboes.

About Coulter

Robert Coulter, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and completed his postdoctoral training through the Clinical and Translational Science Fellowship Program.

Science for Social Good: Tamar Krishnamurti

October 21, 2020

Tamar is a behavioral scientist and decision making expert applying her unique skill set and experience to better engage patients in their clinical care. She initially set out to study both classical music and biology. However, a life changing experience set her on a journey around the world and eventually back to Pittsburgh where today she is helping people make informed decisions regarding their health and wellness.

About Krishnamurti

Tamar Krishnamurti, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh, with an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a Pitt Innovation Challenge awardee, co-director of the THRIVE Lab, and co-founder of Naima Health

Rhythms of Life: Daniel Buysse

September 16, 2020

Dan Buysse has spent nearly forty years studying circadian rhythms and has become one of the most impactful thought leaders in sleep medicine. He has made significant contributions in advancing circadian science, translating research into practice, and training the next generation. Yet, before becoming a doctor and building a career at the University of Pittsburgh, Dan was a kid like any other. Going to college, let alone being a doctor, was aspirational. 

About Buysse

Daniel Buysse, MD, is the UPMC Professor of Sleep Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Buysse also directs the Center for Sleep and Circadian Science, leads a post-doctoral training program in translational research in sleep medicine, and serves as director of the CTSI’s Participant and Clinical Interaction Core.  He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan and completed his residency and fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh.

Designing the Digital Future of Health Care: Ravi Patel

August 19, 2020

Ravi is a teacher, a researcher, and an innovator. He has a lot of interests and a lot of questions, such as how do different people interact and experience health care? What can we learn from those experiences? How might we inform and design a better health care experience?  Ravi is constantly tackling these questions with his students and through his research, but like many, he’s adapting his approach to changing conditions.

About Patel

Ravi Patel, PharmD is the Lead Innovation Advisor for the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy. He also helps lead the Pitt Challenge Hackathon. Patel received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Fostering Innovation: Nehal Bhojak

April 15, 2020

In 2001, Nehal moved to Pittsburgh and had been working as a consultant when she decided to go back to school for a second master’s degree.   A decision that set her on a trajectory to becoming a prolific figure in the Pittsburgh innovation ecosystem.  Today, she is at the interaction of academia and industry – fostering relationships and coordinating the development of innovative medical technologies.     

About Bhojak

Nehal Bhojak is the Director of Strategic Business Initiatives at Pittsburgh CREATES, a University of Pittsburgh initiative that supports collaborative surgical and medical innovation, research, and training.  Prior to joining Pittsburgh CREATES, Bhojak was the Director of Innovation at Idea Foundry, a local business and technology accelerator.

From Surviving to Thriving: Carla Chugani

March 18, 2020

In 2016, Carla arrived at the University of Pittsburgh as a postdoctoral scholar.  As the daughter of academic parents, it’s no surprise that Carla decided to pursue a similar path.   Today, as an assistant professor, Carla is conducting research, teaching, and developing programs focused on mental health and suicide prevention.  She wasn’t initially interested in science or mental health though Carla first wanted to pursue a career in music.  And not just any music, opera. 

About Chugani

Carla Chugani, PhD, LPC is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health. Chugani completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh. She is both a Pain Research Challenge and a WORDOUT Community Research Dissemination Challenge awardee.

Regenerative Medicine: Bryan Brown

February 18, 2020

In 2001, Bryan Brown came to Pittsburgh to study mechanical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh where he would go on to obtain his PhD in bioengineering and become a faculty member at the university.    From winning multiple awards to co-founding a company, Bryan is well on his way to making an impact on health care innovation. 

About Brown

Bryan Brown, PhD is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering with secondary appointments in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences as well as Clinical and Translational Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.  He’s a core faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine where he serves as Director of Educational Outreach.   He is a two time Pitt Innovation Challenge awardee and serves as Chief Technology Officer of Renerva, LLC, a Pitt start-up company that he co-founded.  Brown received both his B.S. and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.  

Leading with Love: Ellen Beckjord

January 21, 2020

Ellen Beckjord returned to Pittsburgh in 2007 after years of training as a clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist.  It didn’t take long before Beckjord established herself as an innovator at the intersection of digital and population health.  From mobile applications to #pinksocks, Beckjord is using her expertise and compassion to support the health of millions of people.

About Beckjord

Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH is the Associate Vice President of Population Health and Clinical Affairs at the UPMC Health Plan.  Prior to joining the UPMC Health Plan, Beckjord was an Assistant Professor and Clinical and Translational Science Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh.  She’s also a Pitt Innovation Challenge awardee. 

About the Hosts

Mike Flock, PhD, is the Innovation Core Manager for the CTSI. He coordinates novel funding and translational research programs, such as the Pitt Innovation Challenge. Before joining CTSI, Flock worked in R&D at large food and supplement companies. It was his interest in health science communications, cross-disciplinary research, and a sense of curiosity that led him to the Products of Pittsburgh. 

Staff photo
Mike Flock, PhD
Innovation Core Manager
Phone: 412-864-3490
E-mail: mif55@pitt.edu