University of North Carolina Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Population of Focus: racial and ethnic minority groups, rural populations, communities with limited resources

Topic Areas: health equity, cancer prevention and control, nutrition, obesity, rural health, high blood pressure, diabetes

Introduction, Mission, and Vision

The University of North Carolina (UNC) Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) is one of 26 Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the 2019–2024 funding cycle. Each PRC is funded to establish and maintain their center and to conduct a core research project. PRCs may receive supplemental funding to conduct additional research projects and activities.

HPDP’s vision is to work with community partners to implement public health interventions and share findings to improve health outcomes in individuals and communities vulnerable to chronic disease and disability in North Carolina. Its mission is to help individuals and communities access health-promoting resources and services that can prevent disease. HPDP works to develop education, training, and other health-promoting resources that can be used to promote overall well-being

Core Research

Each PRC uses a community-engaged approach to conduct one primary applied public health prevention research project called a core research project. Project activities include design, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination. PRCs use at least 50% of their CDC funding to conduct the project in partnership with communities.

Med-South Lifestyle Program (MSLP)

A group of people posing for a photo

HPDP researchers and staff lead many community-engaged research projects on different health topics at UNC.

The Med-South Lifestyle Program (MSLP) is a proven intervention that adjusts traditional Mediterranean diets to appeal to populations in the southeastern United States. Mediterranean-style dietary patterns emphasize consumption of whole grains, healthy fats, and vegetables. They have been shown to lower the incidence of chronic disease.

HPDP’s core research project for the 2019–2024 funding cycle is to identify the most effective way to promote and support the implementation of MSLP across multiple settings, including communities with limited resources. The focus is on public health and clinical practice settings that reach rural, minority, and medically underserved communities.

The goal is to extend the program’s reach to communities across North Carolina through local health departments and community health centers.

“Our core research project builds on years of research at HPDP to develop, test, and disseminate the Med-South Lifestyle Program, which culturally adapts the Mediterranean diet and other evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention interventions for the southeastern United States,” said Alice Ammerman, DrPH, center director.

Additional Research

PRCs may receive supplemental funding to work on additional research projects each funding cycle. These Special Interest Projects (SIPs) focus on a variety of health topics or gaps in scientific evidence. PRCs can also conduct additional research as part of SIP Thematic Research Networks, which are groups of PRCs working together on related health topics.

Electronic Health Record Study to Examine Factors and Diagnostic Pathways that Facilitate Early Ovarian Cancer Diagnoses

This SIP will use North Carolina cancer registry data that has been linked to electronic health records and medical claims data to address ovarian cancer knowledge gaps and provide critical information on clinical-, patient-, and health-systems-related factors that may help shift ovarian cancers to earlier diagnosis.

PRC Vaccine Confidence Network (PRC VCN)

In April 2021, CDC funded a 12-month award to all 26 PRCs to form the PRC VCN in support of the agency’s Vaccinate with Confidence strategy for COVID-19. As part of this network, HPDP is examining vaccine hesitancy to find ways to promote vaccine confidence, increase vaccine uptake, and reduce disparities in Black/African American, American Indian/Native American, and Latino/Latina communities, including among adolescents. The goal is to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 in the United States.

HPDP’s strategy is to give primary care providers in North Carolina the data, support, and community engagement opportunities they need to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence, uptake, and equity.


How Alcohol Source and Direct-to-Consumer Sales Impact Alcohol Behavior and Outcomes in a Shifting Regulatory Environment

This SIP study focuses on online direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales of age-restricted products— including alcohol, cigarettes, vaping, cannabis, and kratom products. It seeks to inform policy decisions at local, state, and federal levels about DTC alcohol sales and examine how changes to regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic affected alcohol-related behaviors.

Research findings will provide evidence to support policy recommendations for DTC alcohol sales. Regulators and policy advocates can use this information to guide their actions in this evolving area of health policy.

Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN)

As a member of CPCRN, the Comprehensive Cancer Control Collaborative of North Carolina (4CNC) conducts cancer prevention and control research to identify and support the implementation of effective clinical and public health cancer prevention and control interventions into a wide range of clinical and community settings. It also provides training, technical assistance, and tools to support the adoption and implementation of proven cancer prevention and control interventions.

4CNC projects include colorectal cancer screening in pharmacies, organizational theory in implementation science, financial toxicity among rural cancer patients, and dissemination of CPCRN’s Putting Public Health Evidence into Action curriculum.

Contact Information
UNC Logo

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Principal Investigator: Alice Ammerman, DrPH

Deputy Director: Beverly Garcia, MPH


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