About the PRC Program
Chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the United States. In 1984, Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a network of academic research centers to conduct community-based applied public health research to address chronic diseases and other leading causes of death and disability in the United States. CDC was selected to provide leadership, technical assistance, and oversight for the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program.
A Collaboration with Communities to Build a Healthier Tomorrow
PRCs work with local communities to develop, test, and evaluate solutions to public health problems. During 2019–2024, CDC is funding 26 PRCs across the United States. Each PRC is funded for 5 years to maintain a research center and conduct prevention research that promotes health and prevents chronic illness and other diseases and disabilities. The solutions developed by PRCs are intended to be applied widely, especially in populations affected by health disparities. In addition to creating healthier communities, PRCs have increased the public health workforce and conducted research that will guide future initiatives.
In the 2014–2019 funding cycle, PRCs reported the following accomplishments:
Three Decades of Community Engagement Makes Us Unique
A cornerstone of the PRC Program is the community engaged research. PRCs have built trust by listening and truly collaborating with local communities through Community Advisory Boards. These long-term relationships allow PRCs to accelerate research into practice effectively and efficiently and improve health.
Working to Improve Health Outcomes
Every PRC conducts a core research project that engages community members on a range of topics such as cancer, nutrition and physical activity, diabetes, violence prevention, sexual health, immunization, healthy aging, and more.
In addition to their core research projects, PRCs can conduct prevention research as a part of a Special Interest Project (SIP) or SIP Thematic Research Network.
- SIPs focus on a topic of interest or a gap in scientific evidence. Currently funded PRCs can apply for funding for these supplemental projects, sponsored by CDC programs.
- Thematic Research Networks are a type of SIP that includes multiple PRCs working together on a health issue. There are currently five thematic research networks: Cancer Prevention and Control, Dementia Risk Reduction, Managing Epilepsy Well 2.0, Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation, and Physical Activity Policy Research and Evaluation.
PRC Network Committees and Workgroups
As part of ongoing Network activities, PRCs participate in committees and workgroups. In the current funding cycle, the Network has six committees and four workgroups. The committees focus on Network leadership, policy, community engagement, communications, and day-to-day operations. The workgroups cover special interest topics including monitoring, evaluation, mental health work, and anti-racism work within the PRCs. These groups provide a collaborative workspace for PRCs to connect, share information, and leverage the collective experiences and expertise of the PRC Network.
- Steering Committee: Provides leadership to the PRC Network and includes the PRC Network co-chairs and leadership from the PRC committees and workgroups.
- Operations Committee: Provides a regular venue for those who manage the day-to-day management of the PRCs to share and develop processes and connect with PRC Program staff.
- Policy Committee: Addresses policy-related issues for the PRC Network, including, but not limited to, educating policymakers, CDC, and others regarding PRC Network activities.
- Community Committee: Provides people in the communities where PRCs do community engaged research a forum and opportunity for information exchange, education, collaboration, and service as peer-to-peer partners.
- Communications Committee: Provides communications support, training, and mentoring to PRCs and facilitates a forum for information sharing among PRCs related to communication and dissemination activities.
- Mental Health Workgroup: Shares the work that PRCs are doing to address mental health and identifies opportunities for collaboration among PRCs and CDC.
- Anti-Racism Workgroup: Provides opportunities to discuss and collectively address systemic racism in communities PRCs serve.
- Monitoring Data Workgroup: Provides feedback to the CDC PRC Program on data collection processes and systems.
- Evaluation Workgroup: Provides feedback and input on CDC PRC Program evaluation efforts.
The PRC Program has advanced public health research and practice for more than 30 years, and it will continue to work towards building a healthier tomorrow in communities across the country. Future efforts include increasing the PRC Program’s population health impact by accelerating the translation, dissemination, and implementation of evidence-based public health research that address chronic disease prevention priorities among communities to advance health equity.