About Us

Authorized by Congress in 1984, the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) are a network of 26 research centers that are university-based and serve a vital role within the public health system. PRCs work to identify public health problems and to develop, test, and evaluate public health interventions that can be applied widely, particularly in underserved communities. PRCs are also leaders at the scientific forefront of translating and implementing evidence-based programs. Their unique role includes:

  • Sharing expertise and provide scientific services such as applied research, translation, and program evaluation. They work on public health efforts at the local, state, tribal, and national levels. They also play a vital role in training the public health workforce.
  • Improving population health outcomes and contribute to reducing health disparities. The PRC program’s grantees conduct research that contributes to improved community and population health.
  • Developing new and innovative models for preventing chronic disease and other public health problems.

Past PRC research has resulted in one or more of the following:

  • Changes in policy, systems, or environments.
  • Offers scalability and replicability for other populations.
  • Expands the evidence base of public health priority areas.
  • Impacts the health of the population or community.
  • Results in measurable changes in practices or reach.
  • Documents behavior, practice or health outcomes in  population(s).
  • Contributes to health equity or reduces health disparities.
  • Engages community in implementation.
  • Provides economic evidence for public health decision making.
  • Improves scientific knowledge, technical capability, or clinical practice.

Prevention Research Centers Partner with Local Communities

Community representatives play an important role with the university research team in identifying the research question, developing the study methods, conducting the research, and analyzing and sharing results. Each PRC has a community advisory board or group that collaborates and gives community input to the research effort.

Types of Projects

Core Public Health Research Project

Each center conducts one primary, applied public health prevention research project (known as the Core Research Project) using a community engaged approach. The project includes the design, development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination. The PRCs conduct the project in partnership with communities using at least 50% of their CDC funding.

Special Interest Projects

The centers also work with partners on Special Interest Projects (SIPs). These projects focus on a topic of interest or a gap in scientific evidence. SIP funding is competitively awarded to schools of public health or schools of medicine associated with the PRC network. Researchers represent diverse medical and social science disciplines, including health promotion, epidemiology, and behavioral science.

  • Single PRC—The SIP supports one PRC to conduct a specific research project.
  • Multiple PRCs—The SIP supports two or more PRCs to conduct different dimensions of a research project or to test strategies in different populations.
  • Thematic Research Networks—The SIP supports several PRCs that collaborate on a specific health topic.

Five Thematic Networks

Thematic Research Networks are groups of PRCs working together on related health topics. In each network, one PRC is the coordinating center and manages the initiative. There are currently five thematic research networks: healthy aging, cancer, epilepsy, nutrition and obesity, and physical activity. CDC or another US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency funds the networks as Special Interest Projects. The agency assigns a technical advisor from the agency to work with network members. Learn more at PRC Thematic Networks.

Other Research Projects

Additional research projects conducted by PRCs or program partners may be administered and either fully or partially funded by the PRC Program office.

Learn more about PRC Study Findings categorized by health topics.