The Policy Impact and Future of Behavioral Economics

A special lecture with Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA was held at the University of Pennsylvania on November 16, 2023.

Behavioral Economics: Policy Impact and Future Directions – Highlights from the NASEM Consensus Study Report

The hybrid event was co-sponsored with the Population Science Research Programs at the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC), the Health Policy Division in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy (MEHP), and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE). 

Pilot Grant Awards for 2023-2024

The Community Engagement and Research Core (CEAR) at the University of Pennsylvania has awarded pilot grant funding for 2023-2024. Two projects were selected to receive funding through the CEAR Pilot Grant Program, and one project was selected to receive funding through Community Driven Research Day and will be co-funded with Penn Center for Public Health (formally Center for Public Health Initiatives, CPHI)

CEAR pilot grant recipients:

Screening for Nutrition in Oncology Settings for Underserved Rural Communities with Food Insecurity and Social Determinants of Health Challenges

  • Tamara Cadet, PhD, MPH (Associate Professor, Social Policy & Practice)


Health Care Use Among Patients Newly Insured via Hospital-Based Insurance Linkage

  • Elinore Kaufman, MD, MSHP (Assistant Professor, Surgery)


The Community Engagement and Research (CEAR) Core of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) at the University of Pennsylvania has made pilot grant funding available for research with public and community health relevance since 2014.

CDRD pilot grant recipient:

The Preparation and Pilot Implementation of HOPE-ish: A Mental Health Awareness Program


Community-Driven Research Day (CDRD) is a program that encourages collaboration between researchers and community-based organizations (CBOs)/community groups that have research questions they are interested in answering.

New Built Environment Assessment Training

The Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT) Institute grew out of the recognition that environmental and policy changes are some of the most promising strategies for controlling obesity and improving diet and physical activity. A new Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT) has been updated by the People, Health, and Place Unit of the Washington University in St. Louis Prevention Research. Originally developed at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Health Behavior Research and the UPenn Prevention Research, the course is designed for planning and evaluating changes to the built environment for health and wellbeing. Specifically, to instruct researchers, students, planners, and health practitioners on observational measures. The modules of this course offer tools and resources for assessing streets, parks, trails, and neighborhood landscapes for physical activity.


History of BEAT

From 2008-2012, the BEAT Institute offered week-long in-person training institutes for researchers and practitioners. In 2013, the Institute hosted a think tank meeting on built environment and health science.

From 2010-2015, the BEAT Institute was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, 2010-85215-20659, and until 2021 it was sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center and the Center for Health Behavior Research, with the University of California, San Diego, and San Diego State University Prevention Research Center.


Inspired Activity

The research culminated in the 2015 American Journal of Preventive Medicine theme issue titled “Built Environment Assessment and Interventions for Obesity Prevention: Moving the Field Forward.” Learn more about the issue here.


PHP Unit Steers the Ship

In 2021, the of the Washington University in St. Louis Prevention Research Center committed to updating and reestablishing the online BEAT Institute training program. Course modules will be added and updated in the years to come.

We continue to collaborate with the PHP team as they update the courses and site with new and expanded content, including training and tools for measuring nutrition environments. If you have questions about the current BEAT course, please contact Research Manager Áine O’Connor at

Visit our BEAT website at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania HERE to learn more.

City-Wide Cancer Disparities Conference

We heard very moving personal stories from some cancer survivors and ‘pep rally’ encouragement from a former Eagles player.
Everyone gave input into helping us process the Listening Sessions and think about our future research and program priorities to reduce cancer disparities in Philadelphia.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH

PC3 Academic Partner, Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

On June 15, 2023 representatives from health systems, cancer centers, stakeholders, and Philadelphia community members discussed concerns about cancer in the region and charted a path forward to reduce disparities in our city.

The group was assembled by the Philadelphia Communities Conquering Cancer (PC3) collaboration, whose mission is to empower Philadelphians to reduce cancer disparities through community engagement, resource alignment, information sharing, research, and prevention. An opportunity funded by PCORI.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to fund comparative clinical effectiveness research, or CER. The studies funded are designed to produce reliable, useful information that will help patients, family caregivers, clinicians, employers, insurers, policy makers, and others make better informed health and healthcare decisions. The work is guided by a Board of Governors representing the entire healthcare community. The coalition is made up of representatives from Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and Fox Chase Cancer Center. The funded project is “Building Capacity for Patient Centered Outcomes Research through a City-Wide Cancer Coalition.” Community members, patients, and stakeholders are the cornerstone of the project. The SAC guides all proposed activities and play key roles in planning, implementation, and dissemination. Additional community members and stakeholders host the listening sessions, participate in the consensus conference, and speak during the research advocate training program.

Visit the website to learn more about the programs, leadership, and community partners.

The Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) – A Systematic Review

A Tool for Understanding the Food Environment

The Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) is a set of tools that researchers use to assess the availability of healthy food options in stores and restaurants. NEMS tools have been used in research for over 15 years and have been adapted for diverse settings and populations.

A recent systematic review published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AJPM) examined how NEMS tools have been used in published research. The review found that 190 articles from 18 countries had used NEMS tools. Most studies (69.5%) used a modified version of NEMS tools, and there were 23 intervention studies that used measures from NEMS tools or adaptations as outcomes, moderators, or process assessments.


Adapting to the times

The review also found that 41% (n=78) of the articles evaluated inter-rater reliability, and 17% (n=33) evaluated test–retest reliability. This suggests that NEMS tools are generally reliable and valid measures of the food environment.

The review concluded that NEMS measures have played an important role in the growth of research on food environments. NEMS tools have helped researchers to explore the relationships among healthy food availability, demographic variables, eating behaviors, health outcomes, and intervention-driven changes in food environments.

The review also noted that the food environment is constantly changing, so NEMS measures should continue to evolve. Researchers should document the data quality of modifications and use in new settings.


NEMS tools are a valuable tool for understanding the food environment. They have been used in a wide variety of research settings and have helped to advance our understanding of the relationships between the food environment and health. As the food environment continues to change, NEMS tools should continue to evolve to meet the needs of researchers.

Glanz K, Fultz AK, Sallis JF, Clawson M, McLaughlin KC, Green S, Saelens BE. Use of the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey: A Systematic Review. Am J Prev Med., 65:1, 131-142, July 2023. EPub March 2023. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2023.02.008. PMID: 36990939.

Healthy Eating study chosen as one of Penn Med’s top health equity initiatives

The poster presenting the results from the healthy eating study conducted by Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH; Amanda Fultz, PhD, RDN; Yolande Goncalves, MPH; Pui Kwong, MPH; and Christina Roberto, PhD., was chosen as one of the top ten posters in Penn Medicine’s 8th Annual Health Equity Initiative Awards. The posters that were chosen were quite impressive and presented by contributing authors during a virtual, lightning round event on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

Integrating Self-Management Education with Cancer Survivorship Care

• Find the latest publication in this study along with others in the project here.
• Read more about Dr. Schwartz and the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program on the CHOP Research blog.


King-Dowling S, Psihogios AM, Hill-Kayser C, Szalda D, O’Hagan B, Darabos K, Daniel LC, Barakat LP, Fleisher L, Maurer LA, Velázquez-Martin B, Jacobs LA, Hobbie W, Ginsberg JP, Vachani CC, Metz JM, Schwartz LA. Acceptability and feasibility of survivorship care plans and accompanying mobile health intervention for adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2021 Mar;68(3):e28884. doi: 10.1002/pbc.28884. PMID: 33416214

The transition between adolescence and adulthood can be a bumpy ride. Add overcoming cancer to that journey and self-care can get swept up among the many developmental landmarks. A study has been underway where researchers aim to reach these young adults through a mobile app, delivering a survivorship plan and management of their post-cancer care.

“Ultimately, this study could inform a more tailored approach to intervention to keep AYA (Adolescent & Young Adult) survivors at risk for poor self-management and disengagement more motivated and engaged,” Dr. Schwartz said. “They survived cancer. We want to protect that investment and have them live long healthy adult lives.” Lisa Schwartz, PhD is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and a psychologist in the Division of Oncology and the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program at CHOP. Integrating Self-Management Education with Cancer Survivorship Care was funded by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) as a Special Interest Project (SIP) in the UPenn Prevention Research Center from 2015-2018. The SIPs receive funding through competitive calls for proposals to address topics of interest or gaps in scientific evidence.

Pediatric Blood & Cancer published the study’s findings in their article “Acceptability and feasibility of survivorship care plans and an accompanying mobile health intervention for adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancer.” It was concluded that the mobile intervention was accessible and helpful to users, but it needs more refinement and research.



A review of the effects of UV filters on the environment and human health

The National Academies presented a public release webinar of a new report on Tuesday, August 9 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm EDT. The report, Review of Fate, Exposure, and Effects of Sunscreens in Aquatic Environments and Implications for Sunscreen Usage and Human Health, calls on the U.S. EPA to conduct an ecological risk assessment of UV filters to characterize possible risks to aquatic ecosystems and the species that live in them. The report contains information useful for such an assessment. It also describes the role of sunscreens in preventing skin cancer and what is known about how human health could be affected by potential changes in usage. The committee chairs shared key takeaways and responded to questions during the webinar.

For further details about the study, visit the project webpage.

UPennPRC and CHBR director and UPenn DBEI faculty, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, is on the committee. Dr. Glanz addressed the impact of UV filters on human health and stated the many factors involved, including correct application of sunscreen and the use of other barriers such as rash guards. Read the article on the report that she co-authored for The Conversation, here.

Download the report

View webinar slides

Watch the webinar

Call for Proposals: Connecting Penn Research to Communities

The Community Engagement and Research (CEAR) Core of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) at the University of Pennsylvania is making pilot grant funding available for research with public and community health relevance. We are especially interested in proposals that address prevention and management of heart disease and cancer risk.

This call for proposals is open to faculty and postdocs with significant public and community health-related experience at Penn and is intended to:

  • Foster interdisciplinary research in public health at Penn that will have meaningful results at the community level.
  • Assist in garnering external support for large-scale studies in the field of public health.
  • Encourage additional faculty and staff at Penn to become involved in public health research.
  • Identify the innovative methodologies in the field of public health that have the potential of informing local, state, and national policy and programming.

Click HERE for the Call for Proposals.

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Applications for the 2022-2023 funding cycle are due Thursday, April 7, 2022 by 5pm for a June 1st, 2022 start date.

Any questions should be directed to Krista Scheffey (

CEAR Core also awards pilot grant funds through Community-Driven Research Day (CDRD). Community-Driven Research Day is a collaboration between community groups and researchers at Penn, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Temple University, Drexel University, and Thomas Jefferson University. CDRD is an opportunity for members of community organizations and academic researchers to come together to meet and discuss potential collaborations and community-academic partnerships.

2022 Community Driven Research Day – January 27

Community-Driven Research Day (CDRD) encourages collaborations between researchers and community-based organizations (CBOs) and community groups who have research questions that they are interested in answering, specifically in ways that address social determinants of health. The 12th annual CDRD will take place virtually on Thursday, January 27, 2022 from 9:30am-12:30pm EST.

Through virtual presentations in themed breakout sessions, CBOs and community groups will highlight their questions to CDRD participants, who will include area nonprofits, community groups, public sector partners, and researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. CBOs, community groups, academic researchers, and students will be able to virtually meet and discuss mutually-beneficial collaborations around the 12th Annual CDRD theme of “Advancing Health and Equity Through Community-Academic Partnerships.”

Following CDRD, a competitive pilot grant program supports partnerships formed as a result of participation in CDRD between academic researchers and community-based organizations. The eight $10,000 grants are limited to faculty of The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine who have significant community health-related research experience, and are working in collaboration with community partners who present at CDRD.

CDRD Details & Additional Information

The 12th Annual CDRD will be held virtually on Thursday, January 27, 2022 from 9:30am-12:30pm EST. Registration is now open for both presenters and attendees.

Call for Submissions: CBOs and Community Groups

CBOs and community groups interested in developing partnerships to conduct research are urged to participate in an interactive virtual poster presentation that will highlight the organization’s/group’s mission, goals, and major accomplishments. Posters/Powerpoint will also display questions that they are interested in answering about partnering for healthy and safe communities.

Submissions are due by Monday, January 10, 2022Click here to apply to present.

Register to Attend: Non-Presenting Participants

All non-presenting individuals interested in attending Community-Driven Research Day, including academic faculty, staff, students, lay community members, and representatives of non-academic institutions should register by Thursday, January 20, 2022Click here to register.

Click here to access the 2022 CDRD flyer.

Two UPenn PRC investigators receive Penn’s Awards of Excellence for mentorship

Leadership recognized

On October 26, 2021, the dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, announced the recipients of the 2021 Awards of Excellence. J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD writes, “The distinguished awardees exemplify our profession’s highest values of scholarship, teaching, innovation, commitment to service, leadership, inclusion, and dedication to patient care. They epitomize the preeminence and impact we all strive to achieve. Each recipient was chosen by a committee of distinguished faculty from the Perelman School of Medicine or the University of Pennsylvania. The contributions of these clinicians and scientists exemplify the outstanding quality of patient care, mentoring, research, and teaching of our world-class faculty.”

We were pleased to learn that two of our colleagues received awards for their years mentorship, Frances K. Barg, PhD, MEd and Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP.

The awardees:

Frances Barg, PhD, MeD

Arthur K. Asbury Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award to Frances K. Barg, PhD, MEd, Emeritus Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health. Dr. Barg is a pioneer in the field of qualitative health research and is a role model for medical faculty who wish to pursue research that incorporates patient and community perspectives.

Dr. Barg contributed to our project, “Building Local Community Health Leadership for Action on Preventing Chronic Disease,” and served as an advisor to the UPenn Prevention Research Center.


Duncan Van Dusen Professionalism Award for Faculty to Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP, Ruth C. and Raymond G. Perelman Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Associate Director of Diversity and Outreach, Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Guerra’s multifaceted leadership in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion has had far-reaching impact across Penn Medicine.

Dr. Guerra serves as a co-investigator on our Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, and works with Dr. Glanz in the Abramson Cancer Center Cancer Control Program.


Read the full article here.

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.