Partnership Pays: Collaboration Among Case Western Reserve, Cuyahoga County, and YMCA of Greater Cleveland Catalyzes More Than $13 Million in Public Health Grants

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is a key player in nearly $13.32 million in federal grants awarded to improve community health in Northeast Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renewed the PRCHN’s grant for $4.35 million over five years. The funds will support the center’s ongoing efforts in designing, testing, and disseminating individual, environmental, and policy interventions that prevent and reduce chronic disease in urban neighborhoods. 

The PRCHN is one of 26 Prevention Research Centers (PRC) nationwide. PRCs create health promotion and disease prevention strategies that have the potential to bring long-term benefits to communities. The CDC also provides an additional related funding mechanism through the national PRC network, Special Interest Projects (SIPs). SIP grants are only available to researchers affiliated with a PRC. This fall four medical school faculty affiliated with the PRCHN won SIP grants, bringing an additional $2.97 million to Greater Cleveland focused on tobacco cessation, living with epilepsy, and chronic disease among individuals with dementia.

Meanwhile, the Health Improvement Partnership-Cuyahoga County (HIP-C), under the lead of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and the YMCA of Greater Cleveland each received their own CDC grants to conduct policy and environmental interventions to improve healthy eating and active living in targeted, high-need neighborhoods in Greater Cleveland. 

“The PRCHN has been an a key collaborator in our countywide effort to combat the root causes of the chronic diseases that negatively impact the health, wealth, and life expectancy of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Terry Allan, Health Commissioner of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. “The multiple successful grant applications in our community that support this important work serve as clear evidence of the power of this collaboration.”

The experience of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland with PRCHN cross collaboration has been equally beneficial.

“We have worked very closely with our PRCHN collaborators since 2008,” said Barbara Clint, Director of Community and Health Initiatives, YMCA of Greater Cleveland. “For our most recent Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant, not only did Dr. Elaine Borawski provide valuable input on the content of our submission, but she and her team will coordinate the overall evaluation team going forward.”

Together between the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, these awards will bring another $6 million to the area over the next three years.

“We are proud to have been part of the grant writing teams and now, the implementation of these grants,” states PRCHN Director Elaine Borawski, PhD, Angela Bowen Williamson Professor of Community Nutrition and Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at CWRU School of Medicine. “We have offered our time, expertise, and resources to these important community initiatives because we believe in the concept of collective impact. These initiatives will be the driving force behind changes in population health in this community over the next 10 years.” 

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhood’s research focuses on community nutrition and food policy, tobacco prevention and control, environments supporting healthy eating and active living, and place-based health and behavior surveillance. This includes Freshlink, a five-year core research project aimed at increasing nutritional food access in low-income neighborhoods throughout Cleveland.

“The center’s research in nutritious food access, tobacco prevention, and multi-level strategies for reducing childhood obesity has gained national attention,” said Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs. “Their health data surveillance systems are just as impressive. The center is a proud example of how Cleveland partnerships enhance our ability to support local organizations and implement health prevention research strategies.”

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About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine 
Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation’s top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School’s innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report’s“Guide to Graduate Education.”

The School of Medicine’s primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.

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Jeannette Spalding