Research at USF Health

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New funding for USF’s prevention research center no small feat

The College of Public Health’s Florida Prevention Research Center (FPRC) has been continuously funded by the Centers for Disease Control since its founding in 1998.

It’s an impressive testament to the center’s emphasis on a community-based participatory research model – one that listens to what people in communities need and translates the research into effective public health practices and policies to improve health.  The successful model has produced social marketing interventions to reduce eye injuries in citrus workers, prevent smoking and underage drinking in middle-school students and get children to be more physically active and eat better.

Still, nothing is guaranteed in a new highly-competitive funding cycle.

The stakes are even higher when the number of federal grant proposals continues to swell while the funding available shrinks.  This time around the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would cut from 37 to 26 the number of prevention research centers in its prestigious nationwide network.

FPRC Director Carol Bryant, PhD, told the Tampa Bay Business Journal she breathed a sigh of relief when USF’s proposal scored highly and ultimately beat out some stiff competition to secure $750,000 for the first year of a new center grant. The CDC grant will total $4.35 million over five years.

“Some of the more prestigious institutions that have had centers in the past were not selected this year,” Bryant said.  “Most notable and surprising were Harvard, Emory, the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Texas, and University of California at San Diego.”

USF also beat out the University of Florida, which gave FPRC its first in-state competition.

The Florida Prevention Research Center, based at the USF College of Public Health, is led by Carol Bryant, center right, and Julie Baldwin, center left.

The win took a strategic team effort.

“The USF College of Public Health’s prevention research center benefits from our longstanding and deep relationship with the Florida Department of Health. Their active involvement in planning and developing the proposal, we believe, was instrumental in our success,” said Donna Petersen, ScD, dean of the College of Public Health.

“And, there is no better team than the one led by Drs. Carol Bryant and Julie Baldwin. These seasoned scholars and public health professionals know how to promote health and improve lives while also building the critical knowledge base needed for success in an era of scarce resources.”

The new funding comes with a new emphasis.

FPRC will work with the Florida Department of Health, Moffitt Cancer Center and various community partners to study the most effective ways to get underserved populations at high risk for colorectal cancer screened early for the disease.  Initially, they will identify people in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties most likely to benefit from tests to help find colorectal polyps or cancer.

Moving forward the FPRC will apply its model to help understand and improve the cancer screening and follow-up system — from patients and healthcare practitioners to clinic administration and referral sources.

“We will look at the entire system at multiple levels to find potential barriers to care and identify changes that can make the system easier to use,” Bryant said.