Illinois Prevention Research Center (Illinois PRC): Supporting Policy & Environmental Change


The center collaborates with Illinois community stakeholders -- residents, service agencies, coalitions, small businesses, local and state governments, and other partners -- to engage in prevention research to reduce chronic disease risk and health disparities. Specifically, our research tests, develops, adapts, implements and evaluates policies and environmental approaches that aim to improve nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco-related health behaviors and health outcomes.

The Illinois PRC emphasizes community engagement and community-based research to help reduce disparities and work closely with community partners throughout Illinois to develop and sustain education and training programs and translate research findings into effective public health policies and environmental changes.

In 2014-2019, the Illinois PRC's theme of Supporting Policy and Environmental Change, with an aim to improve health behaviors and reduce health disparities, was reflected in all its activities. This theme was developed as part of a collaborative process of stakeholder input, partnership with community-based organizations, and leveraging of substantial expertise with University of Illinois's strengths in relevant research areas and health disparities. Illinois PRC activities are guided by the CDC’s Logic Model for the Prevention Research Center Program and informed by conceptual frameworks for community engagement and community-based research. The Illinois PRC’s activities concentrated in six main areas with these aims:

  1. Engage researchers and the community in expert multidisciplinary applied health promotion and health prevention community-based research aimed at improving health behaviors and reducing chronic disease through effective evidenced-based policy and environmental changes.
  2. Conduct community training and provide technical assistance locally and statewide and graduate student and post-doctoral mentoring and education to increase researcher, stakeholder, and community capacity to conduct community-based health prevention research and undertake policy, program, and environmental evaluations.
  3. Increase translation of evidence-based research findings into best practices and policies.
  4. Build and provide a communications infrastructure and plan that supports information sharing about programmatic, educational and scientific information for a variety of audiences including the public health practice community; local and state health coalitions and advocacy groups; local, state, and national policy-makers; prevention researchers; and the public.
  5. Conduct rigorous evaluations of all IPRC components, report findings, and use this information to improve IPRC programs.
  6. Identify and address racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and rural disparities in all aspects of the Center’s research, community engagement, training, communication, and evaluation to improve health behaviors and reduce related disease risks and outcomes among disadvantaged populations.

The IPRC Applied Public Health Prevention Research Project

This project addresses a key CDC Winnable Battle focused on increasing access to and use of parks working with community stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive, rigorous evaluation of the impact of a Chicago Park District park-based renovation, and apply the study findings to ongoing park renovations by implementing a park coalition building intervention to increase local capacity and influence park-based utilization and physical activity. This project was led by Sandy Slater, PhD.

Special Interest Projects

In 2014-2019, the Illinois PRC collaborated with other CDC Prevention Research Centers in six national, thematic networks that addressed specific health challenges:

  1. Global and Territorial Health Research Network
  2. Healthy Brain Research Network
  3. Managing Epilepsy Well: Network for Epilepsy Self-Management
  4. Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network
  5. Physical Activity Policy Research Network
  6. Workplace Health Research Network
Start date
End date
Total award

The Illinois PRC website can be found at (not case sensitive).

About this grant

The Illinois PRC is one of 26 CDC Prevention Research Centers funded nationwide for 2014-2019. 

For more information, contact
Amber Uskali, MPH
Deputy Director, Illinois PRC
(312) 355-1086

Related publications

Singleton CR, Li Y, Duran AC, Zenk SN, Odoms-Young A, Powell LM. Food and Beverage Availability in Small Food Stores Located in Healthy Food Financing Initiative Eligible Communities. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(10):1242. Published 2017 Oct 18. doi:10.3390/ijerph14101242. 

Stiehl E, Shivaprakash N, Thatcher E, et al. Worksite Health Promotion for Low-Wage Workers: A Scoping Literature Review. Am J Health Promot. 2018;32(2):359–373. doi:10.1177/0890117117728607. 

Muramatsu N, Yin L, Lin TT. Building Health Promotion into the Job of Home Care Aides: Transformation of the Workplace Health Environment. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(4):384. Published 2017 Apr 5. doi:10.3390/ijerph14040384. 

Demment MM, Peters K, Dykens JA, et al. Developing the Evidence Base to Inform Best Practice: A Scoping Study of Breast and Cervical Cancer Reviews in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. PLoS One. 2015;10(9):e0134618. Published 2015 Sep 1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134618. 

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Perna FM, Powell LM, Chaloupka FJ. Weight status among adolescents in States that govern competitive food nutrition content. Pediatrics. 2012;130(3):437–444. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3353. 

Powell LM, Wada R, Krauss RC, Wang Y. Ethnic disparities in adolescent body mass index in the United States: the role of parental socioeconomic status and economic contextual factors. Soc Sci Med. 2012;75(3):469–476. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.019. 

News releases

Prevention Research Center aims to improve health of Illinoisans (1/6/2015)

CDC Awards $12.3 Million to Prevention Research Centers for Special Interest Projects (CDC news release; 10/3/2014)

CDC awards $19.5 million to Prevention Research Centers nationwide (CDC news release; 5/30/2014)