CDC Names Six New Medical Research Centers to Accelerate Health Care Innovations

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, October 5, 2015
Contact: Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

New funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today more than doubled the number of CDC Prevention Epicenters. Six new American academic institutions join the five existing Epicenters working to discover new ways to protect patients from dangerous germs. 

The CDC awarded a total of $11 million to the six academic institutions to identify possible new and improved ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola in health care facilities. The goal is to help doctors and nurses better protect the health and safety of their patients, and each other, from high-risk disease threats.

“It can be difficult and challenging to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases in health care facilities,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “To protect Americans, it’s critical that we develop the cutting edge science needed to stay ahead of the germs. The six institutions receiving these funds are doing just that.”

The additional institutions funded to identify infectious disease-related innovations from 2015 to 2018 are:

  • Emory University
  • The Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Illinois, Chicago
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • University of Utah

The new Prevention Epicenters will focus on projects that:

  • Prevent the spread of infectious germs in health care facilities, including Ebola virus
  • Evaluate best approaches to using personal protective equipment
  • Study novel approaches to minimizing the role of the health care environment in germ transmission

CDC’s existing Prevention Epicenters are:

  • Cook County Health & Hospital System and Rush University Medical Center
  • Duke University
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and University of California, Irvine
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Washington University

Stopping health care-associated infections

Spread of infectious diseases in health care settings is a problem in the U.S., adding billions of dollars to health care costs. Infectious diseases like influenza, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and C. difficile (C. diff) can spread when infection control measures are insufficient or if recommendations are not followed. 

“Through the Prevention Epicenters Program, academic leaders in health care epidemiology can work together and with CDC to innovate and stay ahead of the spread of germs,” said John A. Jernigan, MD, MS, director of the Office of Prevention Research and Evaluation within CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “This program allows us to work closely with leading academic researchers to find out how to better reduce the risk of health care-associated infections and improve patient safety.”

Preventing health care infections, improving hospital safety

The knowledge created through CDC’s Prevention Epicenters Program, which began in 1997, has directly improved patient safety. Key findings that resulted in health care improvements include:

  • Demonstrating that use of skin antiseptics and nasal decolonization for all intensive care unit (ICU) patients on arrival
    • Led to 40 percent fewer infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. 
    • Resulted in hospitals using this novel strategy to improve antibiotic resistance prevention among ICU patients.
  • Designing an effective prevention package for long-term acute care hospitals to stop the spread of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a major drug-resistant threat
    • Cut CRE bloodstream infections by 56 percent.
    • CDC created a national CRE prevention toolkit to help more hospitals adopt this proven approach.
  • Designing a tracking system to help get patients off ventilators sooner, improving their recovery time,
    • Got patients off ventilators, out of the ICU, and out of the hospital sooner.
    • Led to CDC incorporating a new measurement guide for prevention into the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) for U.S. hospitals.

For more information on the Prevention Epicenter Program and past awardees, visit:


Page last reviewed: October 5, 2015