Making progress in the area of food insecurity & nutrition environments

NIH Virtual Workshop banner

On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, UPenn PRC director, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, co-chaired an NIH (trans-NIH) workshop called Food Insecurity, Neighborhood Food Environment, and Nutrition Health Disparities: State of the Science.  It was presented virtually for three days, and had over 3,500 registered participants. There were nine sessions, including lively panel discussions. These discussions gave the speakers an opportunity to address attendees’ questions.

Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, also co-chaired the event. Dr. Odoms-Young is an Associate Professor, in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Ecology/College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, at Cornell University.

All live content is available for viewing until September 2022

The Labroots event portal.

Angela Odoms-Young, PhD and Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, co-chairs and moderators of the workshop.


Participants viewed three days of presentations and panel discussions. On Day 3, Dr. Glanz shared key takeaways with the following observations.


First, “health equity is defined as the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.”

Health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who we are, where we live, or how much money we make. (RWJF)

In addition, relationships between walkability & activity inequality hold within cities in the USA of similar income, meaning, walkable environments lead to lower activity inequality.

Dr. Glanz believes that to make significant progress in the area of food insecurity & nutrition environments we need the following:

  • Innovation & flexibility
  • Collaboration & coordination
  • Balance internal & external validity
  • Address supply AND demand
  • Study individual & aggregate effects
  • Always think about people in need


Lastly, increasing the fluidity between research, policy and practice at the Federal level, such as the NIH, USDA, CDC, and other agencies. State and local levels can address nutrition, health, housing, safety, and economic development.


We can create equity by incentivizing collaboration, not competition, such as the Gates Foundation global initiatives.

In Conclusion

Dr. Glanz closed her summary with two encouraging quotes.


…Science and technology are powerful tools, but we must decide how best to use them. Perhaps the most important point is to ensure that science never becomes divorced from the basic human feeling of empathy with our fellow beings.

Dalai Lama

The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2006)

Work hard,
Work smart,
And always have fun


Matt Wilpers


You can see an agenda of the event here. Attendee and presenter comments, including highlights from the presentations can be seen by clicking the #NIHNutrtionEquity hashtag in Twitter. The video captured of the 3-day event will be available on October 7, 2021.


Assessing and Addressing Nutrition and Health in our Communities

Learn more and register for this 3-day workshop addressing food insecurity, neighborhood food environment, and nutrition health disparities.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH is among the organizers and will be participating in this important event. The goal is to review the state of the science, identify research gaps and opportunities related to food insecurity and the neighborhood food environment, and suggest innovative research strategies that will inform policy and practice to address and prevent diet-related health disparities and promote health equity.

The virtual event is hosted by the National Institutes of Health, admission is free, and it is open to the public.

Research Day 2021 – Virtual & Open to the Public

Former US Preventive Services Task Force Chief Inspires Real Change: Join Us!

The U.S. lags behind other developed nations in many health outcomes. How can we move from potential to actual health improvement? Be our guest virtually for DBEI & CCEB Research Day on March 24 and hear our 1:30 p.m.keynote by Sue Curry, PhD, former chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and an expert on translating research into policy. Find a detailed schedule, create an account, and register here.

 Attend the full event from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and be with us as:

* Our top 10 poster presenters give five-minute flash talks and compete for prizes.
* Faculty members share their high-impact research.

  • Biostatistics: Hongzhe Li, PhD: Interrogating the Gut Microbiome — Estimation of Growth Rates and Prediction of Biosynthetic Gene Clusters.
  • Pamela Shaw, PhD: Efficient Study Designs for the Analysis of Error-Prone Electronic Health Record (EHR) Data.
  • Epidemiology: Sean Hennessy, PharmD, PhD: Medicines as Thermo-Protectants?
  • Informatics: Blanca Himes, PhD: Enhancing Electronic Health Record Data to Address Health Disparities.
  • Dr. Curry presents “Population Health: Making Science Matter,” the Brian L. Strom Visiting Professorship Lecture. Dr. Curry is an emeritus Dean and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy of the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Learn more and register for the event here.



Webinar: Community Health and Economic Prosperity

Save the Date: 9/9/2020 at 1:00-2:30 PM EST for Community Health & Economic Prosperity –

Join Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH, along with top leaders in the field of community health from Penn and beyond, as they discuss opportunities for the food industry to create a healthy and equitable food system. The webinar will be held September 9, 2020 from 1:00 – 2:30 PM, and is sponsored by the following.

Registration is limited, details here


ACC Population Science Research Seminar, February 20, 2020

Join us next Thursday, February 20th for the ACC Population Science Seminar – “Helping Parents Quit Smoking in Pediatric Settings”.
Please reply with your RSVP by Monday, February 17th.

The Cancer Control Program is one of two Population Science Research Programs of the Abramson Cancer Center. Program members work intra- and inter-Programmatically to apply advances in science to population health and cutting-edge data analytics, address the cancer burdens and risk factors in our catchment area, and train the next generation of cancer control researchers.

Monthly Abramson Cancer Center Population Science Research Seminars are sponsored by:


Research Day 2019

Highlights from Research Day on March 21, 2019

A joint project of the DBEI and the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Penn.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH started off the day with her Featured Faculty Talk, “Food and Nutrition Environments: Is There an Elephant in the Room?” In addition to her informative talk, investigators from the UPenn PRC contributed two projects to the Poster Session. One features the message development and testing from our Skin Cancer Communication Project and the other highlights the methods and results from our core research project, The Healthy Weigh Study.

We also enjoyed the keynote with Peter Embi, MD, MS, FASP, FACMI from Indiana University School of Medicine with his personal journey through diagnosis and treatment and how the whole health system could better serve patients.

To download photos from this event, visit our Facebook album. View tweets from the event by searching #2019ResearchDay on Twitter.

Watch video and coverage of the Featured Faculty Talks here!

Highlights from the 2018 Evidence Academy

The Tobacco Control Science Evidence Academy was held last Friday, November 16, 2018 at The Study at University City. There was ample space for the 90 registrants, breakfast and lunch, along with nine different breakout sessions. All were there to learn and share research on tobacco control, cessation, and smoking technology.

View the program of the event for details and presentation titles, here.

The Plenary Addresses started us off, with Andrew Strasser, PhD, Robert Schnoll, PhD, and Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH.

After the Clinical, Research, and Policy/Action Breakout Sessions, there was a short break to grab lunch and then take a seat for the Keynote Speaker, Kurt Ribisl, PhD, who gave his presentation on the “Demise of Cigarettes and the Rise of E-Cigarettes: Fixing our Flawed Response.”

The Planning Committee assembled a panel of specialists to discuss how tobacco is affecting Philadelphia.

Sean McCormick moderated the panel through a discussion of how they’ve been able to make changes in their organizations’ policies and provide a healthier environment. We had five Flash Talk presenters from different universities and organizations.

Support for this event was provided by the Population Science Program of Abramson Cancer Center, the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, and the UPenn Prevention Research Center.

  • View and download high resolution photos from our Facebook album here.
  • See what organizers, speakers and attendees had to say about the event on Twitter using #penntobaccocontrol.


Resources from the organizations involved in this event:


Penn Stop

Get Healthy Philly 

Truth Initiative

Health Promotion Council

American Cancer Society

American Lung Association

Abramson Cancer Center – Penn Medicine

A 1-day conference on tobacco control and products in Philadelphia

This Evidence Academy will be a one-day conference designed to bring together researchers and health professionals, advocates, and policymakers, to accelerate the process of integrating research findings about tobacco prevention and control, into public health and clinical practice.

The Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) and the UPenn Prevention Research Center (UPenn PRC) are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and seek to improve health, reduce disparities, and bridge the gap between research and practice. This event is also sponsored by the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center, a world leader in cancer research, patient care, and education.

November 16, 2018
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Study at University City, 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Featured Speakers

• Michael Amato, PhD
Methodologist and Research Investigator
Truth Initiative

• Michael Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA
Hilldale Professor of Medicine
University of Wisconsin

• Meghan Moran, PhD
Assistant professor in Department of Health, Behavior & Society
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

• Kurt Ribisl, PhD
Professor and chair in the Department of Health Behavior
University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health

• Robert Schnoll, PhD
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry
University of Pennsylvania

• Andrew Strasser, PhD
Research Associate Professor of Behavioral Health in Psychiatry
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

• Anil Vachani, MD
Associate Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

• Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, PhD
Professor in the Department of Family & Preventive Medicine
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

• Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry
Vermont Center on Behavior & Health at the University of Vermont

View the event program


Community Scholars In-Residence

A call for Community Scholars

Applications are now being accepted for the Community Scholars-in-Residence program which will be focused on cancer prevention and control research.

Through this program, scholars will develop relationships with a community research partner of their choosing, identify research opportunities, and co-develop research projects during a one to two-year tenure with a community partner organization.

Eligibility: Standing pre/post docs with an interest in conducting community-engaged health research Project Topics: Projects must focus on cancer prevention and control research, and must be co-developed with a community partner Program Duration: 12-24 months Funding: Each Scholar/Community Organization team will receive up to $5,000 for their project Program Start: September 2018. Application Deadline: June 1, 2018 EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE!

Program Structure:

Faculty Mentorship: Scholars will identify a mentor from qualified faculty in the area of cancer prevention and control research. Mentors will guide the development, implementation and evaluation of the project. Scholars are expected to meet with their mentor on a monthly basis. Mentors will receive $500 (for discretionary funds) for their support.

Community Partner Organization: The community partner organization should be identified by the scholar and can include any community organization that provides, plans for, coordinates, organizes, pays for, or regulates health/public health services or impacts health outcomes in the community.

Time Commitment: Scholars will devote an average of 4-6 hours per week to this program and it is expected that a majority of the time will be spent with the community partner.

Formal Training: Scholars will participate in a one-day kick-off workshop that will cover key community-engaged research skills and participate in regular meetings and trainings that will provide opportunities for sharing personal experiences and lessons learned. Representatives from the community partner organizations will be invited to participate in the meetings.

Funding: Scholars will develop a project and submit a proposal for funding (up to $5,000 per project). We suggest building in a minimum of $500 for your host organization.

Please contact Jill McDonald at  for more information and a program application.


Funding for this program comes from Community Engagement and Research Core in the Penn CTSA and the UPenn Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN).

PIK Seminar on Health Disparities

On November 29, 2017, three of University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished professors presented their collaboration on Health Disparities in the second PIK seminar. Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) is a program where the hand-picked professors collaborate and “bring knowledge together across disciplines and use that knowledge to illuminate some of the most fundamental issues of our time.”

Sarah Tishkoff, Dorothy Roberts, and Karen Glanz with Provost Wendell Pritchett.

The speakers:

  • Karen Glanz, MPH, PhD of Perelman School of Medicine and School of Nursing
  • Sarah Tishkoff, PhD of the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences
  • Dorothy Roberts, JD of Penn Law and School of Arts and Sciences
  • Introduction by Provost Wendell Pritchett.

They presented their ideas on Health Disparities: Integrating Knowledge from Genomics, Social Sciences and Law to a group of about 140 at the Law Auditorium in the Jordan Medical Education Center. There was a live-stream of the presentation for those that couldn’t make it.

You can view the live-stream video of the seminar HERE.
Each presentation is also featured on the Penn LDI site HERE.

After taking questions, the speakers and audience continued the conversation at a reception in the beautiful atrium.


The atrium at Jordan Medical Education Center.

UPenn PRC Director, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, Discusses PRC Mission and Goals at ASPPH Annual Meeting

UPenn PRC Director, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, joined other PRC Directors in a session to mark the 30thAnniversary of the CDC’s Prevention Research Centers Program at the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Annual Meeting March 20-22, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia.

Dr. Glanz and her fellow PRC directors discussed the past accomplishments of their centers and the prevention challenges they are currently addressing. In addition to these challenges, other session topics included the Congressional and administrative history of the program, the future goals of the program, and its interaction with other federal research funders.

The Prevention Research Centers Program is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states. Each PRC studies how people and their communities can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses. These centers are located at either a school of public health or a medical school that has a preventive medicine residency program. As a result, the centers are leaders in translating research results into policy and public health practice.


(Peggy Hannon, PhD, MPH, Health Promotion Research Center, University of Washington, Lisa Powell, PhD, Illinois Prevention Research Center, University of Illinois – Chicago, Mehran S. Massoudi, PhD, MPH (CAPT, USPHS), Director, PRC Program, CDC, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center, University of Pennsylvania, Carolyn Johnson, PhD, MS,Tulane Prevention Research Center, Tulane University)



Winner of 2106 PIUR-CPHI Public Health & the Urban Environment Photo Contest

The Penn Institute for Urban Research, in collaboration with the Center for Public Health Initiatives, announced the winner of its 2016 photo contest. The theme of the contest was “public health and the urban environmental landscape.” The announcement was made at the “Shaping the Urban Health and Environmental Landscape” symposium, held on February 25th in the Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania. The entries were judged by the symposium’s panel of experts, who looked for compelling images that emphasize ways that urban design has succeeded or failed to promote public health and well-being.  The winning photograph,  “Summer’s Day at John Kelly Pool, Fairmount Park, Pa.,” was taken by Ben Chrisinger.


“Schuylkill River Trail” by Rob Lybeck














Teng Teng’s “Spruce Street Harbor Park, Philadelphia.”