Department of Medicine

Department of Medicine

  Division of General Internal Medicine

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photo Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Clinical and Translational Science

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research on Health and Society

Director, Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health


Phone: 412-586-9789

Office: 230 McKee Place, Suite 600
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 412-586-9789
Fax: 412-692-4838
Education and Training
BA, Yale University, 1991
EdM, Harvard University, 1993
MD, Emory University, 1999
MS, University of Pittsburgh, 2008
PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 2011
Family Medicine Residency, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Saint Margaret's Hospital (, 2002
Research Interest
Dr. Primack been the principal investigator on multiple federal grants from NCI, NIDA, and AHRQ (e.g., R01-CA140150, R01-DA034629, R21-HS022927, and R21-CA185767). He has also been a co-investigator on multiple NIH research projects funded by NICHD (R24-HD080194), NIAAA (R01-AA021347), NHLBI (R01-HL130388) and NIMHD (U54-GM119023-S1). The diversity of the source of these awards testifies to his multifaceted research interests, his penchant for collaboration, the marketability of his innovative ideas, and his passion for bridging disciplines.

Dr. Primack is broadly interested in improving interpersonal communication, health care, and health outcomes in an increasingly technological and media-driven world. This includes trying to improve the patient-provider bond, reducing mental health problems, and decreasing addiction.

Dr. Primack's work in these areas has been published in a wide variety of leading peer-reviewed journals in public health, medicine, and social science, including American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Preventive Medicine, JAMA Pediatrics, JAMA Psychiatry, Public Health Reports, Tobacco Control, Journal of Adolescent Health, American Journal of Health Promotion, and Addiction. This research has been cited in leading international news sources including the New York Times, US News and World Report, the BBC, the Washington Post, and NPR’s “Here and Now.”
Clinical Interest
Dr. Primack trained in family medicine in order to leverage his interests in patient-provider communication, personalized and compassionate care, health promotion, and disease prevention.

He has served clinically in multiple capacities, including in a federally-qualified health care center for the underserved, student health services at both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and general internal medicine.

In addition to the outpatient work described above, Dr. Primack has done inpatient work at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, UPMC Presbyterian and Shadyside hospital, and UPMC Saint Margaret's.
Educational Interest
Education was Dr. Primack's first graduate degree and his first job out of college. He has taught in communities as diverse as West Africa, inner city Boston, and leading Universities. He has also worked with students at levels as varied as middle school, college, graduate school, remedial adult education, and junior and senior faculty.

Currently, Dr. Primack's major teaching responsibilities are through mentorship. He received the University of Pittsburgh’s Outstanding Medical Student Mentor Award in both 2013 and 2014. The vast majority (85%) of his mentees are from underrepresented groups in academic health sciences.

Dr. Primack has developed and implemented creative educational experiences. These have involved not only public health and medicine, but also nursing, pharmacy, physician assistants, and undergraduate students. For example, he received the University of Pittsburgh Innovation in Education Award to develop and implement a series of interactive experiences around health literacy and patient-provider communication among various health sciences students. Dr. Primack also developed a successful series of modules involving “standardized patients” (actors) to help train students.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: Evaluating New Nicotine Standards for Cigarettes - Project 1
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Agency for Drug Abuse
Grant Number: U54 DA031659
Start Year: 2015
End Year: 2016
Title: Alcohol Marketing and Underage Drinking
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Dartmouth College/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism
Grant Number: R01 AA021347
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2016
Title: Improving U.S. Health Policy Regarding Water-Pipe Tobacco Smoking
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Cancer Institute
Grant Number: R21 CA185767
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2016
Title: Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking Among U.S. Adolescents and Young Adults
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Cancer Institute
Grant Number: R01 CA140150
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2016
Title: Sponsored Health IT and Evidence-Based Prescribing Among Medical Residents
Role: Co-Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Grant Number: R21 HS022927
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2016
Title: Cessation in Non-Daily Smokers: A RCT of NRT with Ecological Momentary Assessment
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Agency for Drug Abuse
Grant Number: R01 DA034629
Start Year: 2013
End Year: 2019
Title: Systematic Analysis of Alcohol-Related Content in Social Media
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation
Start Year: 2013
End Year: 2016
Title: Emergence of Gender Inequitable Practice in Adolescence
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Grant Number: R24 HD080194
Start Year: 2013
End Year: 2015
Title: Waterpipe Tobacco Smoke: Toxicant Exposure and Effects
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Virginia Commonwealth University/National Cancer Institute
Grant Number: R01 PD300031-SC103851
Start Year: 2012
End Year: 2012
Title: Contract for Media Literacy and Pharmaceutical Advertising Project
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding Agency: Oregon Department of Justice
Start Year: 2011
End Year: 2012
Title: Investigating Associations between Media Use, Depression, and Anxiety Using Ecological Momentary Assessment
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: RAND
Start Year: 2009
End Year: 2013
Title: Development and Testing of an Innovative Computer-Based Anti-Smoking Curriculum for High Risk Pittsburgh Youth
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: Maurice Falk Foundation
Start Year: 2007
End Year: 2013
Notable Achievements
Institute for Clinical Research Education Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, 2016
Outstanding Medical Student Research Mentor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2014
Top Early Career Researcher Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2010
Physician Faculty Scholar Award, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009
New Investigator Award for “Excellence in Research Unique to the Development and Health Care Needs of Adolescents,” Society for Adolescent Medicine, 2006
Innovation in Education Award, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
Graduated summa cum laude and was first in the Class of 1999, Emory University School of Medicine, 1999
Award for Service to the Community, Anne Elizabeth and Harper Gaston Service Award, Atlanta, GA, 1999
Robert W. Woodruff Fellowship in Medicine (full four-year scholarship and stipend to medical school), 1995
Commencement Day Speaker, Class of 1991, Yale University, 1991