Early History: 1981-1998
In 1981, public health leaders proposed a network for applied public health research after which the Prevention Research Center (PRC) Program took shape as the first three research centers were funded. In 1984, Congress authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to select academic health centers to conduct community-based public health research. The CDC was identified as the administrator of the PRC Program.
In 1990, the PRC program grew to seven research centers, and by 1993, had expanded to nine research centers. In 1994, four additional centers brought prevention research to tribal governments, Appalachia, and the Ozarks, and the total number of centers reached 13.
In 1995, the National Health Institute (NIH) selected the PRC Program for the community component of the Women’s Health Initiative and added one center in 1996 to address the national health concern of teenage pregnancy. In 1998, Congress reauthorized the PRC Program and nine centers were added to expand regional scope and broaden research themes, bringing the total number of PRCs to 23. The PRCs established thematic networks which collaborated on topics including the following: tobacco prevention and control; behavioral risk factor surveillance system; school health; women’s cardiovascular health; and oral health. This networking concept continued for new themes as those above became inactive over time.
Recent History: 2000-present
In 2000, one center was added to address the disproportionate burden of cancer in central Appalachia, and in 2001, two additional centers enhanced the program’s research depth and breadth, which brought the total number of centers to 26. In 2002, two additional centers were selected to expand the network’s research capacity in both urban and rural health issues. In 2003, the PRC Program adopted a framework or logic model (http://www.cdc.gov/prc/about-prc-program/logicmodel.htm) for conceptualizing the research process and describing the activities of the program and the outcomes it expects to achieve.
20 years of PRCs’ achievements
In 2004, the CDC acknowledged 20 years of PRCs’ achievements, and the CDC announced the 2004–2009 research period for 33 centers. The PRCs collaborated on new thematic networks: Physical Activity Policy Research Network; 2005 Cardiovascular Health Network; 2007 – Managing Epilepsy Well Network; and 2008 Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research Network
In 2009, the PRC Program co-sponsored the 20th National Conference on Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, and the CDC funded 37 Prevention Research Centers for the 2010–2014 research period; 5 developmental and 32 comprehensive. In 2014, CDC funded 26 new PRCs for a five-year period. The UCSF PRC had become one of the 26 funded PRCs.
CDC also funds 56 Special Interest Project (SIP) awards to 21 PRCs to design, test, and disseminate effective applied public health prevention research strategies.