USF awarded new funding for Florida Prevention Research Center

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The new five-year funding for the USF College of Public Health-based center was highly competitive and comes with a new emphasis— reducing the risks of colorectal cancer in underserved populations

The University of South Florida College of Public Health has received new federal funding for its successful Florida Prevention Research Center to conduct innovative public health prevention research among populations experiencing health disparities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded the college’s Florida Prevention Research Center $750,000 to support research that will 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 $750,000 award is for the first year of a five-year funding period, which will total $4.35 million over five years.

USF was one of 26 academic institutions in 25 states, and the only recipient in Florida, to obtain the highly competitive funding.


Drs. Julie Baldwin, left, and Carol Bryant lead the Florida Prevention Research Center. Based at the USF College of Public Health, the center is the only Florida member of a prestigious network of CDC-sponsored prevention research centers.

The CDC awarded a total of $19.5 million to the 26 prevention research centers to work with community partners 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.

With its new emphasis on colorectal cancer screening, the Florida Prevention Research Center will work with research colleagues at Moffitt Cancer Center and state, regional and local partners, including the Florida Department of Health, the American Cancer Society, and many other community-based organizations in Tampa Bay’s tri-county region.

“This is a very prestigious network of centers of excellence,” said Carol Bryant, PhD, distinguished USF Health professor and director of the Florida Prevention Research Center, “Obtaining the new 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.”

The national network of centers involves communities in conducting and disseminating research to help ensure that effective, innovative health strategies can be readily shared and applied where most needed.

The Florida Prevention Research Center has been continuously funded by the CDC since it was established in 1998.  Since then the center’s faculty, staff and graduate students have collaborated with community coalitions to design and evaluate social marketing-based interventions, including helping prevent smoking and underage drinking among middle-school youth, curbing eye injuries in citrus workers, and getting children to be more physically active and eat better.  A recent social marketing campaign focused on detering hookah smoking among USF college students.

“We have invested millions of dollars creating an innovative strategy to teach communities how to solve problems by making sustainable changes that can prevent or control chronic diseases and improve overall health,” Bryant said.  “The continuation of funding will help us disseminate this model with a demonstrated return on investment to others.”

The USF center will aim to identify groups at high-risk for the disease who 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.

“Our core research project will focus on colorectal cancer screening, because it 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 Florida Prevention Research Center co-director with Bryant this September 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,” Dr. Baldwin said. “We are very fortunate to be able to draw upon our team’s expertise in social marketing and community-based participatory research, as well as our experience in developing and evaluating effective colorectal cancer interventions.”


Julie Baldwin, PhD, center left, and Carol Bryant, PhD, center right, surrounded by members of the prevention research center team, including clockwise from lower left, Ji-Hyun Lee, DrPH, Moffitt Cancer Center biostatistics and faculty member in USF MCOM and COPH; Anthony Panzera, doctoral student; Clement Gwede, PhD, Moffitt and faculty member in MCOM and COPH, and co-principal investigator on the research project; Tali Schneider, research associate; Brian Biroscak, doctoral student; Alyssa Mayer, doctoral student; Claudia Aguado Loi, PhD, post-doctoral fellow in the USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences; Mahmooda Khaliq Pasha, center administrator and doctoral student; and Cathy Meade, RN, FAAN, PhD, Moffitt and faculty member in MCOM and CON. Not pictured are Dina Martinez Tyson, PhD, faculty member in COPH and co-principal investigator on the research project, James H. Lindenberger, director of the social marketing group, and William M. Sappenfield, MD, MPH, professor of public health and chair of the COPH Department of Community and Family Health.

The 26 newly funded Prevention Research Centers are:

University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
University of California, San Francisco
Case Western Reserve University
Dartmouth College
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Iowa
Johns Hopkins University
University of Kentucky
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
Morehouse School of Medicine
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
University of South Carolina at Columbia
University of South Florida
Tulane University
University of Washington
West Virginia University
Yale University

For more information on the Prevention Research Centers nationwide, visit the CDC’s Web site at

Written by Anne DeLotto Baier and photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications. Reposted from USF Health News