The University of Pennsylvania’s Prevention Research Center has been awarded two grants from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to advance the CDC’s Healthy Brain Initiative. Penn’s Prevention Research Center, directed by Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, and Kevin Volpp, MD PhD, conducts innovative public health and disease research aimed at preventing chronic disease and reducing health disparities in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It is one of 26 CDC-supported Prevention Research Centers in the nation.
The “Healthy Brain Initiative Network Collaborating Center” will be led by Jason Karlawish, MD, associate director of the Penn Memory Center and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center’s Outreach, Recruitment and Education Core; and Amy Jordan, PhD, co-director of Penn PRC’s Communications and Dissemination Core. “Public Health Communications: Culturally Relevant Messages and Strategies to Promote Awareness about Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease” is a collaboration between Drs. Karlawish and Jordan to develop messages and a communication strategy to promote brain health and awareness about Alzheimer’s disease.
“We are thrilled that the CDC selected our proposals for funding,” said Dr. Karlawish. “The Healthy Brain Initiative is an important national effort to promote brain health for older Americans. These awards are a great opportunity for the Philadelphia region and Pennsylvania. They will connect the many smart, talented and motivated leaders in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania with a national effort to promote brain health.”
The goals of the Healthy Brain Initiative Network Collaborating Center are to participate in the Network’s efforts to establish and advance a research and service agenda in cognitive health and healthy brain aging, and support doctoral and postdoctoral education and training in cognitive health and healthy aging. The Center will develop a course “The public health implications of cognitive aging” for the masters in public health program, a certificate program in the Masters in Public Health program, and the “Healthy Brain Initiative Scholars,” for doctoral and post-doctoral students whose research focuses on cognitive health, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
The Center’s Advisory Board includes leaders in Alzheimer’s disease, aging, and research and health care services for older adults. The members include Brian Duke, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Aging; Wendy Campbell, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Delaware Valley Chapter; Holly Lange, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging; and Tinesha Banks, Deputy Executive Director of the Health Promotion Council.
“Public Health Communications: Culturally Relevant Messages and Strategies to Promote Awareness about Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease” is a collaboration between Dr. Karlawish and Dr. Jordan that will identify key issues related to communicating about cognitive health and Alzheimer’s disease. As part of this project, the investigators will design and develop public health messages focused on promoting cognitively healthy behaviors. Messages will be relevant for the two most common ethnic groups in the Philadelphia area, African Americans and non-Latino Whites.
Dr. Jordan, Associate Director of Policy Implementation for the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has a wealth of experience developing and disseminating public health messages. She explains that “effective messaging to promote healthy behaviors must be done with a solid framework of evidence that supports the targeted behavior and the messages people see. With the support of the CDC, we will be part of a national effort to begin this for brain health. This is a great opportunity to have a national impact.”
These grants are part of the CDC’s Healthy Brain Initiative, inaugurated in 2005, that addresses the public health challenges of cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease. The goals of the Initiative’s Road Map for State and National Partnerships, 2013-2018 include developing and disseminating culturally relevant public health messaging about brain health and Alzheimer’s disease.
A total of $12.3 million was awarded to 21 Prevention Research Centers for 56 Special Interest Projects to design, test, and disseminate effective applied public health prevention research strategies. The UPenn Prevention Research Center received 4 awards. To view a complete list of the 2014 awards, click here.