About the 4 Pillars™ Development Team

Our mission statement:  Protecting people:  Vaccine policy to practice.
The 4 Pillars™ development team is the primary research group of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Family Medicine.  Under the leadership of Richard K. Zimmerman, MD, MPH, MA, the 4 Pillars™ development team brings together a diverse group of investigators and research assistants.  Trained in family and preventive medicine and bioethics, Dr. Zimmerman has undertaken immunization research for 2 decades.  Dr. Zimmerman has been the Principal Investigator on numerous federally and industry funded grants.  

Beginning with health services and survey research on barriers to childhood and adult vaccinations and barriers to standing order protocols in primary care, and progressing to clinical trials of HPV vaccine, intervention studies to increase adult vaccines, practice improvement randomized cluster trials to increase adult vaccinations and childhood influenza vaccination, adolescent influenza and HPV vaccinations; modeling studies to determine cost effectiveness of proposed vaccination strategies, and studies of immunological response to influenza vaccine, the 4 Pillars™ development team has been extremely productive.  

The 4 Pillars™ development team has been one of the 5 sites for the US Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network since 2011, which has produced influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates for the CDC and contributed to national influenza vaccination policy and recommendations. 

Through its practice improvement research, the 4 Pillars™ development team has created the 4 Pillars™ Immunization Toolkit that has been pilot-tested and revised.  It is the foundation for a UPMC Health System-wide effort to increase adult vaccinations in ambulatory care practices and for quality improvement through an ABFM Performance Improvement Activity for physicians.
Other faculty members of the PittVax team are Professor Mary Patricia Nowalk, PhD, RD and Associate Professor Chyongchiou Jeng Lin, PhD.  Trained in chronic disease and nutritional epidemiology, Dr. Nowalk has collaborated with Dr. Zimmerman since 2000.  Her primary responsibilities include study design and execution, materials and instrument development, data collection, grant writing, manuscript development, writing and editing.  Dr. Lin is trained in health economics and econometrics.  She oversees data base management and statistical analyses for 4 Pillars™ studies.

4 Pillars Publications