Our History

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) was formed in 2009 to address chronic health issues faced in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Greater Cleveland area. Housed in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, the PRCHN undertakes research that is truly in collaboration with neighborhoods affected by poverty and chronic health conditions. This is possible in part through partnerships with: city and county health organizations, the Network of Community Advisors (NOCA), and four other schools at Case.

The Center grew out of the Center for Health Promotion Research (CHPR), which was founded at CWRU in 2000 and led Elaine A. Borawski, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Director of the PRCHN from 2009-2020. In 2010 the CHPR was absorbed into the PRCHN, along with several of its signature projects to become part of the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2009 through 2019.  

Nationwide PRC Program

The nationwide PRC program began in 1986 with three centers and included 26 centers as of 2014. The primary aim of the PRC Network is to reduce the rate of chronic disease in the most threatened populations across the U.S. Chronic diseases (such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes) account for 70% of all deaths and are responsible for 75% of the nation’s skyrocketing healthcare costs, so this program reflects a critical societal concern (CDC, 2009. OMB, 2008). Due in part to the decline of industry in recent decades, Cleveland often ranks among the poorest and most unhealthy populations in the country (American Community Survey, 2004. CDC BRFSS, 2006). 

The initial “core” project for the 2009-2014 funding cycle was known as FreshLink and specifically targeted the Buckeye and Central neighborhoods of Cleveland as well as the city of East Cleveland. Our investigations use community-based participatory research (CBPR). This means we rely on the expertise of local leaders (both formally and informally recognized) in shaping the direction of our research, giving us the ability to really understand what’s happening in these areas. Thus, we can intervene with some of the needed resources to help neighborhoods help themselves become healthier and continue that trend long past our involvement.

Our core research project for the 2014-2019 funding cycle, entitled FreshLink 2.0 was a five-year study to improve nutritious food access in low-income neighborhoods throughout Greater Cleveland.  Read more about FreshLink 2.0 here. 

With continued funding streams from various sources, the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods continues its focus on our mission and our community.