Conducting Innovative Public Health Prevention Research

Sep 09, 2014 at 01:32 pm by Staff

USF’s Florida Prevention Research Center garners $4.35 million in CDC funding for projects among population health disparities

TAMPA – Lexington Market-East End, a mini-market located in a historically black “food desert” neighborhood in Kentucky, was once considered an eyesore and unsafe place to shop. Now, it’s the centerpiece of a community driven by new and updated businesses and a stellar example of effective community-based prevention marketing (CBPM) for policy development.

The successful overhaul, resulting from The Good Neighbor Store initiative, exemplifies only one project from an impressive track record that helped the Florida Prevention Research Center (FPRC) at the University of South Florida’s (USF) College of Public Health garner $4.35 million in federal funding over a five-year cycle from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct innovative public health prevention research among populations experiencing health disparities.

“We’re thrilled to receive funding for this particular grant, especially this go-round, because the field was highly competitive,” said Carol Bryant, PhD, distinguished USF Health professor and director of the prevention research center. “Congress cut the funding level significantly for this cycle, dropping the number of recipients from 37 to 25. When we saw the recipient list, there were quite a few surprises. Harvard didn’t make it. Neither did the University of Michigan, which has a very strong program. The University of Texas, an original recipient with a terrific program, didn’t make it. This time, we competed against the University of Florida for the first time… such a stellar university.”

The list of 25 academic institutions in 25 states became 26 when, at the last minute, the CDC added a second Pennsylvania system, making an exception not to award two academic institutions in the same state. These prevention research centers will partner with communities to translate research results into effective public health practices and policies that avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses, including heart disease, obesity and cancer.

“We worked tirelessly to have a very good proposal,” said Bryant, noting team members skipped vacations last summer and worked nights and weekends to fine-tune it.

USF, whose FPRC program has been continuously funded since 1998, was the only Florida academic institution to make the final list. The USF center’s specialty niche: social marketing.

The award “helps USF reinforce its brand equity as a leader in community-based social marketing and gives us the credibility that allows us to be more effective,” said Bryant.

Specifically, the FPRC’s award – $750,000 for the first year – will support research to promote colorectal cancer screenings among underserved populations initially in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, with plans to later expand to other regions of the state.

The project to promote colorectal cancer screenings among the underserved, selected by the Florida Department of Health, begins in October, Bryant explained.

“This will be our first time for the center to work very closely with research colleagues at Moffitt Cancer Center, and state, regional and local partners, including the state health department, American Cancer Society, and many other community-based organizations in Tampa Bay’s tri-county region,” said Bryant. “Those partnerships will give us a fabulous interdisciplinary team. We’ll learn together how to think about applying social marketing to colorectal cancer screening by looking at the entire system.”

The USF center will identify groups at high-risk for the disease that are most likely to respond to prevention marketing strategies with changes in behavior and therefore benefit from the tests that can find colorectal polyps or cancer.

Colorectal cancer screening is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States, said Julie Baldwin, PhD, professor of community and family health, who will become the FPRC co-director with Bryant this month as Bryant transitions to retirement in 2016.

“Building upon established partnerships, we plan to identify, tailor, implement, and evaluate a multilevel intervention to increase colorectal cancer screening using community-based prevention marketing for systems change,” Baldwin said. “We’re very fortunate to draw upon our team’s expertise in social marketing and community-based participatory research, and our experience in developing and evaluating effective colorectal cancer interventions.”

2014 CDC-Funded Prevention Research Centers:

University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Arizona

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

University of California, San Francisco

Case Western Reserve University, Ohio

Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Iowa

Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

University of Kentucky

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia

University of Minnesota

University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

New York University School of Medicine

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Oregon Health & Science University

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

University of Rochester, New York

University of South Carolina at Columbia

University of South Florida

Tulane University, Louisiana

University of Washington

West Virginia University

Yale University, Connecticut

For more information on Prevention Research Centers nationwide, visit

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