Dr. Maria Simbra
Dr. Maria Simbra is a multi award-winning medical journalist, who brings a unique set of skills to her position as medical reporter on KDKA-TV. A member of the KDKA news team since May 2002, this physician and formally trained journalism professional provides expert and informative reports on the health care issues that affect our hometown residents the most.
On KDKA-TV, Dr. Maria has reported on a variety of timely health care topics – from new medical technology, to trends in health care, to diseases that touch our community — with both insight and empathy. KDKA viewers have come to view her as a trusted member of their hometown news team.
As a physician with the added credential of an advanced journalism degree, she has been recognized for her work with the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Medical Communicators in 2006, two nominations for a Mid-Atlantic National Association of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Award in 2006 and 2007, and an Emmy award in 2008. She was awarded the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association Award in 2011, and the SWPA Media & Mental Health Award in 2013. In 2014, she was a Golden Quill finalist. In 2015, she was bestowed the Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence Award.
A leader in medical journalism, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the National Association of Medical Communicators.
In addition to reporting for KDKA, she has been a clinical assistant professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and prior to that was in private practice neurology in Beaver County. Transitioning into a new specialty, she is pursuing a masters degree in public health, focusing on how the mass media affect public health.
In 2001, she decided to explore her long-standing interest in mass media, and entered the journalism and mass communication masters program at Point Park University. By 2003, she had completed her M.A. in journalism and mass communication. She has taught medical journalism to both journalism students and medical students at Pittsburgh area universities.
Her other teaching activities include serving as faculty on the NIH’s “Medicine and the Media Symposium” in July 2004, as a Hearst Visiting Professional at Arizona State University in September 2005, and as a conference panelist for the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality in July 2006. In 2012, She was the commencement speaker for Master’s Degree Hooding and Degree Conferral for her J-school alma mater, Point Park University. She has written for PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine, Neurology Reviews, and the Pittsburgh Business Times. Her book review of the Health Writer’s Handbook appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She’s been featured in USA Today and Television Week.
Before her careers in medicine and television, she undertook studies at West Virginia University, where she graduated summa cum laude with degrees in both biology and chemistry in 1989. In 1993, she earned her M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Maria grew up in Morgantown, W.Va. She and her husband, Jeffrey Burket, an infectious disease physician, and their daughter reside in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.
It’s hard to fight an enemy you don’t know much about. Zika virus for example.
To date there has been no confirmed Zika virus infections identified in Pennsylvania. There are 6-8 tests pending of individuals who’ve returned to Pennsylvania from the areas that have been affected by the Zika virus.
A government screening advisory panel is recommending that as part of routine health care – all adults be screened for depression, which is a big public health problem.
There’s a growing concern about an old virus and whether it’s now causing birth defects.
Every year, the FDA carefully reviews tons of new prescription drugs, green-lighting some and canning others.
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, make sure you aren’t actually eating more.
A joint venture between UPMC and Carnegie Mellon University has produced the first flexible robot to assist with head and neck surgery.
A new kind of stent is showing promise for heart patients. It’s a revamped version of an older type of stent, but doctors say it has a lot more advantages.
When cancer keeps coming back, sometimes doctors have to take drastic measures.
Avoiding surgery and getting the same or better results — that’s the goal of a new approach to removing small tumors from the intestines.
A drug initially developed for a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is being studied for a new purpose — type two diabetes.
Could autism be related to certain drug exposures during pregnancy?
The demand for flu shots can be unpredictable.
Every year, Alzheimer’s disease robs thousands of Americans of their memories, their abilities, their lives. There’s no cure, and only a handful of ways to treat it.
Much has changed in the treatment of HIV and AIDS in the three decades since the epidemic began.