CCHD(COLLEGE STATION, TX)— The Center for Community Health Development (CCHD) in the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, which addresses critical health issues in rural and under-served populations in communities across Texas, has been awarded $3.9 million for five years from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue its activities as one of 35 CDC designated and funded prevention research centers nationwide.

“This five-year funding from the CDC will provide critical support for the center, school and health science center to work closely with regional and state organizations and groups to improve the health of our rural and underserved populations,” said Kenneth McLeroy, Ph.D., CDC grant principal investigator. “It also strengthens our ability to collaborate with other prevention research centers, including our partners at The University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, to address the health and public health needs of the state and nation.”

The Center for Community Health Development (CCHD) also received $2 million in support of three special interest projects focusing on healthy aging, nutrition and obesity, and cancer.

Two of the special interest projects will be led by Joseph Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., associate professor in the HSC-School of Rural Public Health. The Texas Healthy Aging Network, which Dr. Sharkey established in 2004, received funding to continue working with a network of community, health and aging service organizations in the seven-county region of the Brazos Valley, the Lower Rio Grande Valley and across Texas to conduct community-based participatory research on prevention of health issues related to aging.

The Texas Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research Network (TxNOPRN), also led by Dr. Sharkey, received funding to work in collaboration with the national Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research Network (NOPRN) to address issues related to identification, adoption and outcome of policies affecting improved access and availability of healthy foods. TxNOPRN also will target rural communities within Central Texas and colonias – residential area along the Texas-Mexico border that typically lacks the most basic living necessities – in South Texas to determine policy changes related to children’s access to healthy foods.

The Central Texas Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network – led by Marcia Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., Regents Professor in the HSC-School of Rural Public Health, in coordination with colleagues at Scott & White Healthcare and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service – was the third special item funded. The network aims to involve community members in research around cancer prevention and control by working closely with community stakeholders and disseminating evidence-based cancer prevention and control interventions. The focus of these interventions will be to improve the coordination of post-treatment care. It also will link cancer survivors to resources in their communities that encourage adoption of lifestyle behaviors reducing the risk of reoccurrence or occurrence of another type of cancer.

“An additional five years of funding plus the expansion of activities through these special interest projects validates that the center is filling an important role in the nation’s prevention research,” said James N. Burdine, Dr.P.H., CCHD director and co-principal investigator. “It also encourages us to increase our efforts to demonstrate the value of improving communities’ ability to solve local health problems as a key component of any national health care reform strategy.”

The Center for Community Health Development mission is to work collaboratively with communities and other partners to translate, evaluate and disseminate effective individual, organizational, community and regional strategies for addressing critical public health and health-related issues in rural and underserved populations.

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