Zimmerman, Nowalk, Hawk, and Ricci receive Adult Immunization Publication Award


Kudos to (photo front, left to right) alumna PATRICIA NOWALK (EPI '81, ’93) and BCHS faculty MARY HAWK, ED RICCI, and (back) RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, who received the Immunization Publication Excellence Award presented during the National Adult Influenza Immunization Summit, May 10, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. The award was in recognition of their work on the Four Pillars Practice Transformations Program for adult influenza immunization. Read about the award winners at

The University of Pittsburgh Vaccine Research Group (PittVax), under Zimmerman’s direction, has been involved in immunization research for over 20 years, publishing over 200 peer-reviewed articles. Research topics have ranged from health services research on immunization barriers and facilitators to immunology bench science to intervention and effectiveness studies. PittVax has conducted surveys of patients and providers as to the barriers and facilitators of immunization, feasibility trials of new vaccine policies; and it developed a toolkit to improve standing orders for immunizations and a practice transformation toolkit (4 Pillars™ Practice Transformation Program) to improve adult and adolescent immunizations in primary care practices and demonstrated its cost effectiveness, and successfully eliminated racial disparities in vaccination rates in primary care practices. Through these studies, PittVax has contributed to understanding of vaccination behavior, to vaccine public policy, and, in collaboration with others, to the World Health Organization’s selection of annual influenza vaccine strains.

The health services research, the early trials to raise vaccination rates, and data from the Community Preventive Services Task Force led to the conceptualization of the 4 Pillars™ Practice Transformation Program.

The authors realized that the details in published evidence reviews might be difficult to implement in primary care practice as abstract information but that they could be formatted into logical flow. This flow was placed online as a toolkit and then transformed to an interactive, open-source, step-by-step Web 2.0 platform. The 4 Pillars™ Practice Transformation Program online platform includes step-by -step guidance for primary care providers and others who wish to improve adult and adolescent vaccination in their practices. An overview of the program is available at To date, the PittVax team has published six peer-reviewed articles on the 4 Pillars™ Practice Transformation Program.

The PittVax team also includes statistician/health economist Chyongchiou Lin, public health intervention/Web programmer Jonathan Raviotta, research coordinator Krissy Moehling, and a team of research assistants and collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh.


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