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Research

The Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research (IPR) is an organized research unit of the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Participating faculty represent the Departments of Preventive Medicine, Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Medicine and Surgery, and several of the departments of social sciences. IPR is recognized for its strength in health behavior and disease prevention research. In fiscal year 2017, the IPR faculty was awarded more than $$ in external funding for research and training from federal, state, and local government agencies. 

IPR faculty research topics include many different areas of public health, including: addictions, autoimmune and infectious diseases, health disparities, methodology, obesity, translational, cancer, and tobacco.

Addiction research at the Institute of Preventive Research analyzes the social, environmental underpinnings of addictions among individuals and communities. A current research study that is being conducted looks to evaluate developmental changes drug use and long-term effects of a comprehensive community based drug use prevention program. Additional studies include looking at smoking cessation problems among Korean- Americans.

Autoimmune research plays a key role in understanding diseases, which will lead to potential treatments. There are several key studies that are currently being conducted at IPR. One grant is primarily dedicated to training postdoctoral fellows in cancer prevention and control. In addition, there are grants that are in collaboration with the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, which also support cancer research. Another study is analyzing the affective and genetic correlates; this RO1 is evaluating the relationship of depression, stress, and other phenotypes to amphetamine and cigarette use.

Health disparity research explores challenges and problems among diverse populations in the United States and in the world. The research done on health disparities at USC involves comprehensive educational, research and community outreach to eliminate health disparities amongst minorities locally, regionally, and nationally. Current research studies look at linking dynamic environments with childhood obesity. Also, the ACS Mentored Research Scholar Grant, which has two primary objectives looks to better understand the effects of individual, sociocultural and locational contexts on cigarette smoking among Korean American adults, utilizing mobile based ecological momentary assessment. And the second objective is to design an innovative, ecological momentary intervention tailored to Korean Americans who smoke.

Methodology research at the Institute for Prevention Research seeks to develop and test new assessment and analytic approaches for understanding complex health behaviors.

Obesity research at the Institute of Preventive Research looks to increase knowledge stimulate research and promote healthier lifestyles, this type of research is crucial as obesity is one of the most complex and costly health concerns facing Americans today. One noteworthy study that is currently being conducted is the Effects of a Smart Growth Community on Prevention and Obesity, the research topics involve evaluating whether communities that were exposed to a smart growth planning program, had improved physical activity, which can increase their capacity to affect health, and prevent obesity. Investigating physical activity decision making in real time, is another study that is being conducted at USC. The goals of this project are to investigate time-varying factors (mood, physiological sensations), and environmental characteristics, which can predict subsequent physical activity and obesity prevention behaviors. There is also an epidemiological study that is investigating the Calfit smartphone sensor, which allows personal measurement of physical activity.

Translational research at the Institute of Preventive Research is two fold; it applies discoveries that have been generated during laboratory research to the development of trials and studies in humans. Secondly it is research that is aimed at enhancing the adoption of best practices in the community. Some studies involved in this research include, “Applying Drug Prevention to Obesity Prevention” which aims to revise parts of PATHS and STAR, two nationally recognized evidence based programs for drug prevention for schools and parents to utilize into one program for obesity prevention in children grades 4, 5 and 6.

Project Forward: A study of Cancer Survivorship

Milam, Hamilton, Miller,

Ritt-Olson, Meeske

The Project Forward pilot, a cancer registry based study, comprised of young adult survivors (between 15–25 years at the time of data collection) of pediatric cancers diagnosed (between the ages 5–18) with any cancer type from two large pediatric medical centers in Los Angeles County (n=193, 2+ years since treatment, mean age=19.87, SD=2.83, min=15 max=25; 49.7% female) Cases were identified through the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Cancer Registry covering Los Angeles County, and were mailed a survey regarding their follow-up care, insurance status, demographics, clinical factors, and psychosocial risks. Several papers were published from this data.

The Project Forward team was funded to replicate these findings across Los Angeles County, among cases diagnosed between the ages 0–18 years, 2+ years off treatment, and are currently between 18–39 years old. The study recruit over 1200 culturally diverse survivors. Manuscripts are in preparation from this dataset that includes approximately 100 patients that were part of the pilot. 

The team has received additional funding to explore ethnic diversity in unmet needs (Ramirez) and patterns of care (Miller). 

Center for YA Cancer Survivorship

This recently created center focused on the unique needs of Young Adult cancer survivors. The team is led by Drs. Joel Milam, Kimberly Miller from IPR and David Freyer from CHLA. They have assembled researchers, clinicians and survivors who share a passion in addressing the long term impacts of cancer on the health and well being of young adults. Follow us on twitter @YASurvivors to learn more about this center and the team that fuels it. 

The University of Southern California Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (USC TCORS) addresses the cross-cutting theme of tobacco use among vulnerable populations, proposing an agenda of methods development and research that will help to assure that the activities of the FDA reach the diverse groups at risk for nicotine addiction and the adverse consequences of tobacco use.

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