Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
For Journalists
Allison Hydzik
Telephone: 412-647-9975
Senior Director
Telephone: 412-586-9777
Patient & Other Inquiries

New Pitt Center to Advance Research on Technology, Media and Health

​PITTSBURGH, Sept. 15, 2014 – Would celebratory music and a thousand “points” per pill encourage a patient with heart disease to take her medication? If social media friends congratulate an overweight person for skipping dessert, will it help him shed pounds?

Conversely, do song lyrics glorifying alcohol use inspire binge drinking in teens? Does continuous exposure to images of negative TV news footage influence depression or anxiety?

The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences today announced the creation of the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health (CRMTH) to tackle questions like these across a broad range of disciplines. 

“Technological innovation has proceeded so rapidly that youths ages 8 to 18 are now exposed to more than eight hours a day of electronic media messages outside of school,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “While these emerging exposures pose risks to health, they also may be leveraged to improve health.”

As the recently appointed assistant vice chancellor for health and society in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences, Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ph.D., will direct the new center, which is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Internet, social media, television, films, music and video games are all examples of media and technology that can affect our health and wellness,” said Dr. Primack, associate professor of medicine, pediatrics, and clinical and translational science in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “These exposures may have positive or negative influences, and educational and policy-related interventions may be effective at buffering negative influences and bolstering positive ones.”

Last week, Dr. Primack gave a related talk in San Francisco at “TEDMED 2014: Unlocking Imagination,” a three-day gathering designed to drive innovation in health and medicine. The event featured short, thought-provoking talks by speakers invited based on their expertise, innovation and passion in their field.

Dr. Primack, also a practicing family physician, gave the 12-minute presentation to get ideas flowing about how to simultaneously mitigate the negative effects of video games while also harnessing their potential to improve health.

CRMTH faculty and staff will explore this concept and other related topics through collaborations with numerous schools and centers at Pitt, including the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, Public Health, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Social Work, as well as Pitt’s Health Policy Institute.

“U.S. and international health policy needs to embrace the development of technology and recognize its impacts on human health,” said Everette James, J.D., M.B.A., director of Pitt’s Health Policy Institute and the M. Allen Pond Professor of Health Policy and Management in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “While technological advancement and the influence of media present challenges, research from our new center will provide important scientific evidence and help inform policymaking in this emerging field.”

In addition to performing research and developing and testing interventions, CRMTH will include an educational component to integrate an awareness of the impact of media and technology on health for students in Pitt’s Schools of the Health Sciences.

CRMTH is funded by NIH, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the ABMRF/The Alcohol Research Foundation, and pilot grants from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the Pitt Health Policy Institute.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA