Grantee: Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D.

Brian Primack

Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D.

Physician, Professor, Researcher
HCIRB Grantee
Organization:
  • University of Pittsburgh

Current Title
Director, Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Bernice L. and Morton S. Lerner Professor, University of Pittsburgh

Describe your scientific identity.
I trained in clinical medicine with a focus on family medicine. I have also worked as a secondary school teacher and counselor and completed graduate work in education, human development, and behavioral science. This interdisciplinary background has piqued my interest in better understanding associations between various risk and protective factors and health outcomes among youth.

What are your research interests?
Because of recent dramatic increases in media exposure and technology use among adolescents and young adults, I am broadly interested in how these exposures influence youth, in both positive and negative ways, with regard to health outcomes. I am also interested in how we can leverage media and technology to improve prevention and intervention.

What is the significance of your current research project?
There are copious publicly available data being generated every day by people across the world and posted onto social media platforms like Twitter. Prior research has shown that we can capture these data to better understand flu epidemics as they are happening. So, we are interested in leveraging them to address even more crucial issues, such as tobacco use and prevention of cancer.

What motivated you to work in health communication research?
As a teacher and a student of social sciences (and an English literature major in college), I realize how important things like communication and interpretation are in all areas of human interaction and behavior. Then, when I became a physician, I realized how powerful these tools could be for prevention and treatment of disease. It is exciting to put all of these interests together!

Describe something that had a profound influence on your program of research or scientific interests (an "ah-ha!" moment).
I was lecturing a group of undergraduate students back in 2004. Afterward, one came up to me and said that although he found my discussion of cigarette smoking interesting, I should really look into hookah smoking, because that is on the rise. That undergraduate is now one of only a handful of people without a degree published in the American Journal of Public Health!

Selected training, awards, and honors:

  • B.A., English and Mathematics, Yale University (1991)
  • Ed.M., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University (1993)
  • M.D., Emory University (1999)
  • M.S., Research Methodology, University of Pittsburgh (2008)
  • Ph.D., Clinical and Translational Science, University of Pittsburgh (2011)
  • Full merit Woodruff Scholarship to Emory Medical School (1995)
  • Graduated first in class from Emory Medical School (1999)
  • Gaston Award for community service while in medical school (1999)
  • Best teaching resident award (2002)
  • Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine New Investigator Award (2006)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholar (2006-2009)
  • Society for Behavioral Medicine Early Career Investigator Award (2008)
  • Outstanding medical student research mentoring award (2012 and 2013)
  • Bernice L. and Morton S. Lerner Endowed Professorship (2017)


As a teacher and a student of social sciences (and an English literature major in college), I realize how important things like communication and interpretation are in all areas of human interaction and behavior. Then, when I became a physician, I realized how powerful these tools could be for prevention and treatment of disease.”



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