WashU Awarded Grant for Training the Next Generation of Researchers in Implementation Science

Faculty; Public Health; Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $838,500 to Washington University in St. Louis to train researchers to find ways improve the adoption of evidence-based practices to reduce chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The annual, five-day training and ongoing mentoring for post-doctoral researchers aims to shorten the gap between research results and their use in community and clinical settings. The training will be delivered by the Institute for Scholars in Implementation Science (IS-2), a new program based at the Brown School and led by Debra Haire-Joshu, Joyce Wood Professor; and Ross Brownson, Lipstein Distinguished Professor and Director of the Prevention Research Center. The training involves nine Washington University faculty from the Brown School, the School of Medicine and the Olin Business School.

“Research discoveries often take 15-20 years before being incorporated into practice,” Haire-Joshu said. “This training of the next generation of dissemination and implementation researchers will improve the adoption of behavioral and social science interventions that may eliminate chronic disease disparities.” Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, and the primary drivers of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in annual health care costs. The burden of chronic disease falls disproportionately on minorities and low-income individuals.

“Research targeting modifiable risk factors can successfully reduce chronic disease and its deadly effects, but more study is needed to take into account the effects of poverty and other social determinants of health,” Brownson said. “Our innovative program will promote the use of evidence-based interventions in real-world settings where a large reduction in chronic disease is feasible.”

The center’s activities will include:

  • Training faculty mentors to conduct a summer course for a diverse pool of high-quality Fellows.
  • Evaluating the Fellows’ career development and research.
  • Disseminating training materials and building the capacity of the Fellows’ institutions and community partners to put research into practice.

Debra Haire-Joshu is an internationally renowned scholar of health behavior who develops population-wide interventions to reduce obesity and prevent diabetes among underserved women and children. She holds a joint appointment in the Washington University School of Medicine, and directs the Center for Obesity Prevention and Policy Research and the Washington University Center for Diabetes Translation Research.

Ross C. Brownson is a leading expert in chronic disease prevention and applied epidemiology. He is regarded as one of the leading intellectual, educational and practice leaders in the field of evidence-based public health. The founding director of the Prevention Research Center, he has a joint appointment with the university’s School of Medicine in the Department of Surgery and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. He is also the co-director (with Graham Colditz) of the Washington University Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control.