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CDC grant supports cancer prevention in rural Georgia

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Catherine Williams
Associate Director, Winship Communications

Dr. Michelle Kegler (second from left) with investigators Drs. Cam Escoffery, Kathleen Adams, and Sarah Blake.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded the Emory Prevention Research Center (EPRC) $8 million in a five-year grant, Emory University researchers at Winship Cancer Institute and the Rollins School of Public Health announced today.

The new grant award will enable the Emory Prevention Research Center, housed at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, to continue its mission to prevent cancer in rural Georgia. The principal investigator for the grant, Michelle Kegler, DrPH, MPH, is a professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Health Education at Rollins, director of the Winship Intervention Development, Dissemination, and Implementation Shared Resource, and a member of Winship's Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC) Research Program.

"Preventing cancer and reducing health disparities in Georgia are fundamental elements of Winship's mission," says Winship Executive Director Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD. "We're so excited that the work of Dr. Kegler and her team has earned this critical support from the CDC."

The grant will support the EPRC's community-engaged research in rural southwest Georgia as well as several additional research projects. The newly-funded EPRC will focus on work that translates evidence-based cancer prevention and control interventions to the local level, including a project to improve low HPV vaccination rates and a project related to early detection of breast and cervical cancers. Researchers will conduct in-depth interviews and evaluate multi-level interventions in clinics and community organizations to promote HPV vaccine series initiation and completion. Cam Escoffery, PhD, MPH, as principal investigator, and Robert Bednarczyk, PhD, both members of Winship's CPC Research Program, are investigators for the HPV project. Escoffery is also principal investigator for a project to improve the self-management of epilepsy.

Sarah Blake, PhD, MA and Kathleen Adams, PhD, are principal investigators on an evaluation of community-clinical linkage interventions funded through the CDC National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The project will evaluate the implementation, cost, cost-effectiveness, and scalability of interventions to increase cancer screening completion among medically underserved women.

The fourth project will implement an intervention to create home food environments that support healthy eating and weight-gain prevention. Working with partners in rural southwest Georgia and United Way's 2-1-1 resources in Albany, Macon, Columbus, and Atlanta, the intervention, called Healthy Homes/Healthy Families, will address the obesity epidemic.

"We're really looking forward to studying the scale-up of our healthy eating intervention and learn whether it works as well when delivered by telephone as it did with home visits," says Michelle Kegler.

Established in 2004, the Emory Prevention Research Center is part of a nationwide network of Prevention Research Centers working to conduct disease prevention research and promote public health in partnership with communities. The EPRC partners with Horizons Community Solutions and a community advisory board to conduct research, offer training, share research results, and provide evaluation technical assistance to local organizations in southwest Georgia.

According to the CDC, Prevention Research Centers serve a vital role within the public health system as they identify public health problems and develop, test, and evaluate public health interventions that can be applied widely, particularly in underserved communities.

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