Family Medicine Residency Program

Mary Patricia Nowalk, PhD, RD



Dr. Nowalk is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine. She is an integral member of the PittVax Immunization Research Team. Dr. Nowalk was awarded a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 1978, and a M.S. Hygiene in Nutritional Epidemiology in 1981, and a Ph.D. in Chronic Disease Epidemiology in 1993, all from the University of Pittsburgh.  Dr. Nowalk is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a licensed dietitian with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  She is a member of the American Dietetic Association.

Dr. Nowalk began working at the University of Pittsburgh in 1979, holding a variety of positions across a spectrum of research topics including immunizations, screening for and prevention of disease, pregnancy prevention, behavioral weight control and obesity, and mental health treatment.  She served as the project coordinator for workshops on nutrition counseling and several behavioral weight control programs for adults with Type II diabetes. Following her doctoral studies, she worked as a nutrition and statistical consultant in the Department of Epidemiology for the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease Study and the Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study.  She has since served as project coordinator, epidemiologist, Co-I and PI on PittVax’s immunization studies on topics ranging from decision modeling for pneumococcal and influenza vaccination, national and local surveys, randomized controlled efficacy trials of vaccines, vaccine effectiveness test negative, case-control trials of influenza vaccine and trials of an immunization practice improvement toolkit.  She has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications, several of which have won research awards.

From July 2006 through December 2017, Dr. Nowalk served as Principal Investigator for a large multi-year service grant from HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care which provided funding for primary health care at the Matilda Theiss Health Center for uninsured individuals living in and around the Oak Hill public housing community.  Dr. Nowalk is a consultant for the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging Nutrition Programs.

Dr. Nowalk reviews for a number of peer-review scientific journals, coordinates the independent study Clinical Epidemiology course, and mentors medical students working on their scholarly projects. She serves on the Department’s Promotion Committee, the University’s United Way Campaign Committee, the School of Medicine’s Non-Tenure Promotions and Appointments Committee, and serves on Master’s and Doctoral student committees.  She has served for many years as a faculty facilitator for the School of Medicine’s Diversity Orientation.  Dr. Nowalk was the 2013 recipient of the Graduate School of Public Health Distinguished Alumni Award for Service, the Margaret F. Gloninger Service Award.    


  • B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978
  • M.S. Hyg. in Nutritional Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981
  • Ph.D. in chronic disease epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in 1993

Professional Affilitations

  • American Dietetic Association