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:


UPenn PRC helps to accelerate implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention and control

Accelerate progress

The Evidence Academy model was developed to bring together researchers, health professionals, advocates, and policy makers to accelerate the process of integrating research findings into practice.

Bringing in the experts

The University of Pennsylvania Collaborating Center of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) assembled local and national experts in three different Evidence Academies (EAs) on the UPenn campus from 2015 to 2018.

The EAs were used to present research and discuss barriers and solutions to topics that affect the health of our communities. As a result, an article describing three evidence academies and the lessons learned was just published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

The Topics

The focus of the Evidence Academies were:
Prostate cancer (2015)
Food access, diet and obesity (2017)
Tobacco control science (2018)

The paper on these EAs is a part of a special supplemental issue, produced by the CPCRN which is funded by the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and the National Cancer Institute.

The goal of the network is to reduce the impact of cancers that affects all communities, by connecting public health practitioners, policymakers, and others to the research and strategies found to be most effective. Twelve articles come from centers across the United States linked by a common cause, “reducing cancer burden in diverse populations.”

The cancer prevention and control research network: Accelerating the implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention and control interventions (Guest Editor Commentary). Leeman J, Glanz K, Hannon P, Shannon J.

An application of the Science Impact Framework to the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network from 2014-2018. Ko LK, Jang SH, Friedman DB, Glanz K, Leeman J, Hannon PA, Shannon J, Cole A, Williams R, Vu T.

*This issue is open access

How many ways do you protect yourself from harmful UV rays?

Skin cancer prevention practices aim to reduce exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that causes skin cancer. There are several behaviors that can protect the skin from the harmful radiation – using sunscreen, wearing hats and shirts, and seeking shade.

The Study

Researchers at Penn conducted an experiment with white men and women between the ages of 18 – 49 years old, to see if specific health communication messages would change their intentions to protect themselves from the sun.

Researchers asked participants to watch videos, and then to report whether they would be more or less likely to use the protection method featured. They also viewed messages that contained more than one protective behavior.

The Findings

The results of the experiment showed that messages which emphasized only one sun protection behavior with general sun safety messaging were more promising than those that focused on multiple behaviors.  In some cases, men and women responded differently. More women in the study felt strongly that they would miss out on activities if they applied sunscreen, but they felt positive about protecting their head and face from the sun by covering up. On the other hand, men more often felt they would miss out on activities if they sought shade.

Investigators did not see specific messages rising to the top in this study, and suggest that focusing on a single sun protection behavior initially would be more effective.  This is seen as a first step, as longer communication campaigns may be needed to achieve lasting changes. One viewing of a message about protection is not enough to change a person’s behavior when it comes to sun protection methods.

Read the full paper here.

Bleakley A, Jordan A, Strasser A, Lazovich D, Glanz K. Testing General Versus Specific Behavioral Focus in Messaging for the Promotion of Sun Protection BehaviorsAnnals of Behavioral Medicine, 2019 Oct 4

CDC report features the Skin Cancer Communication Project

The CDC recently released its 5th annual Skin Cancer Prevention Progress Report. The report features findings, highlights, and success stories from their community of partners since the 2018 report. On page 9 of the document you will find a full-page summary of our CDC grant results for quitting indoor tanning among young women.


Click here to read the CDC summary.

Effective health communication through media channels can contribute to skin cancer prevention in important ways, especially if the messages are targeted to specific groups. Read more about our Skin Cancer Communication Project here.

The Definition of Health

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Jason Karlawish, principal investigator of the UPenn PRC Cognitive Aging Communication Project and the Healthy Brain Research Network, and co-director of the Penn Memory Center (PMC), teamed up with PMC scholar Cara Kiernan Fallon to author editorials for the American Journal of Public Health and STAT supporting the updates to the definition of health. The pair argue that as medical science prolongs our lifespan and improves the quality of life while living with disease, the definition should expand to include noncommunicable disease and special considerations for the elderly.

Read the editorials authored by Jason Karlawish, MD, and Cara Kiernan Fallon, PhD, MPH here:

American Journal of Public Health


AUDIO: Cutting down on Food Waste

LISTEN: On Thursday, June 6, 2019, UPenn PRC director Karen Glanz participated in a discussion on Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School, Penn’s Sirius XM station, on the FDA’s attempts to make best by dates less confusing for consumers and thus cut down on food waste.


The conversation included the show’s host, Dan Loney, and Catherine Donnelly of the University of Vermont. They discussed a standardized “Best if used by” date on food labels, in order to give consumers a clear idea of a packaged food product’s shelf life. Click the link above to hear the conversation.


This broadcast originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 132, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School.


In the past there have been different terms used to communicate to consumers and retailers about packaged food products, like “use before,””sell by” and “packaged on,” etc. It can be confusing to consumers when it comes to storing, using and disposing of these products. “About 40% of the food that is produced in the United States is prematurely discarded and 20% is due to confusion around these date labels, ” says Donnelly. “Creating the standardization will get us all back on the same page. This is a great start to get us all back to a common area and from there we can disseminate more information that can get down to more specifics about potentially hazardous foods, shelf-stable products, etc.”


“There are layers on top of layers here, and when you talk about how we relate to food compared to 20 – 30 years ago, we’re cooking much less, so we’re relying more on combination foods, processed foods, packaged foods,” says Glanz. “I can only hope that the FDA and the federal agencies don’t stop at making this standardization suggestion to industry, but carry on with education efforts, working with the USDA, and existing organizations. I also hope they will support additional research.”


Learn more about the suggested standardization here.

Abramson Cancer Center Population Science Research Seminar Series

The Population Science Research Seminar Series is designed to offer state-of-the-art knowledge on advances in oncological research and care. Including new clinical and laboratory investigations, techniques, and practices, as well as to facilitate new initiatives in translational and clinical research in oncology at Penn Medicine.

The seminars are held monthly at various locations at Penn.

This interdisciplinary seminar series is presented by the Abramson Cancer Center, and provides a venue for basic-science and clinical faculty to hear about cutting-edge work in all areas of cancer. The series features invited speakers on various relevant subjects, and Penn Medicine faculty with expertise in selected topics related to cancer.


Speakers in our series represent the major research programs at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, CHOP and the Perelman School of Medicine.

Sponsors include:

Please contact our administrative coordinator, Claudia Caponi, with questions and registration information.

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!

Article by Glanz and her team receives honor from major nutrition journal

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH

UPenn PRC Director Karen Glanz, MPH, PhD and her co-authors received the 2019 High-Impact Award from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) for a highly cited paper published in 2016. The publication focuses on synthesizing the evidence about how researchers measure the presence of healthful food and beverage options are in food stores – an issue of growing public interest in efforts to promote healthy eating.

Read the paper here.



Glanz K., Johnson L., Yaroch A.L., Phillips M., Ayala G.X., Davis E.L.
Measures of Retail Food Store Environments and Sales: Review and Implications for Healthy Eating Initiatives J Nutr Educ Behav 2016; 48(3)

A call for answers for the ‘Three Identical Strangers’

UPenn PRC Director, Karen Glanz, MPH, PhD and Holly Fernandez Lynch of Penn’s Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, shine a light on the responsibilities of the research ethics community when it comes to deceptive experiments like the 1960’s study featured in Three Identical Strangers.

Read the article here.

The opinion piece was published in Stat News, just in time for the release of the documentary on CNN and a BAFTA nomination for the filmmakers. Penn News Today featured the article in their February 11, 2019 issue here.

Nominated for Best Documentary in 2019

Year in Review – 2018

As we begin the new year 2019, we’ve compiled some highlights of the past year at the UPenn Prevention Research Center.  Enjoy the video, and note some of our key accomplishments.

  • The University of Pennsylvania made great strides towards promoting the health of students and staff, both mentally and physically. We aim to continue to contribute to these efforts!

  • The UPenn PRC Director, Karen Glanz, spent 4 months on  a sabbatical at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, where she became an expert voice in the debate over banning sunscreens with certain ingredients, thought to cause damage to coral reefs.

  • In November,  we explored the findings of tobacco control science research with experts from Penn and around the country. We saw broad acknowledgement of the epidemic of e-cigarette use, and learned more about the devices and the marketing of these products, and the policy options being considered.

We look forward to a healthy and productive 2019 and hope to help our community continue to advance chronic disease prevention for many healthy new years ahead!


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