Elevating Prevention Science

We offer our investigators and affiliates an opportunity to facilitate their work with support from three key interdisciplinary prevention research foundations.  Our social innovation, prevention investment, and implementation/scale-up infrastructures add valuable resources, ready access to innovations in the field, and a pipeline for our prevention scientists to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. These infrastructures add capacity and cohesion to the Center and provide scientists a unique advantage to collaborate, develop new ideas, use data in novel ways, and broaden our expertise. And importantly, these well-aligned infrastructures facilitate the movement of scientific knowledge from the “laboratory” to real world settings for wide-scale implementation to public policy reform. 

Social Innovation

We believe in challenging the status quo. Through our social innovation infrastructure, we design interventions to deliver the benefits of research to more people in the shortest amount of time. Using the principles of human-centered design and innovative methods to prevention science scale-up, we collaborate with researchers across the translational research spectrum. We work with graduate and undergraduate students in HUDDIL (Health and Human Development Design for Impact Lab) to create a new generation of change-makers involved in project-driven learning. We partner with other scientists to develop new prevention science products, services and distribution channels.

Implementation & Scale-up

We are dedicated to increasing real-world impact. Despite advances in evidence-based research that has been shown to improve health and well-being, on average, it takes 17 years to move a program into practice. Even then, only a small number of scientific innovations make it into everyday use. Implementation science holds the potential to hasten research impact and program sustainability and scale-up. Therefore, to affirm our role as a leader in full spectrum prevention science, we are embedding implementation science across the translation pipeline throughout the Center. By leveraging lessons learned across the Center’s flagship implementation projects, we aim to increase the development of usable and scalable interventions and create more system capacity for prevention at the local, state and national level.

Prevention Investment

We are leveraging existing data to better understand the potential economic benefits of evidence-based programs. This emerging and exciting area of research has powerful implications for scaling effective prevention strategies that can help children and families and save costs for additional resources that would otherwise be needed downstream (e.g., mental health services, child welfare, juvenile justice). We are partnering with economists, educators and other prevention scientists to move our evidence-based research to policymakers. Three resources are available through this infrastructure.

  1. The Administrative Data Accelerator, a repository of data that can be accessed, linked and analyzed to understand the economic value of prevention;
  2. The Research-to-Policy Collaboration, an education and advocacy approach to outreach building a bridge between researchers and policymakers to support the use of evidence-based prevention science; and
  3. The integrative Data Analysis for Strengthening Health (iDASH), a metadata set for secondary data analysis to support the integration of longitudinal datasets.

Translating Research Into Practice

We utilize a 6-phase translational framework specifically for prevention science to guide the design of effective interventions, conduct comparative trials, and ‘institutionalize’ resultant programs and practices to achieve broad population level effects.

Type 0 translation refers to how discoveries in the basic sciences—from genetics and neurobiology to the behavioral and social sciences—may shed light on the different factors that contribute to behavioral health problems and reveal alterable conditions that may be targeted by prevention programming.

Type 1 translation applies this mechanistic information as a blueprint for developing both screening tools and adaptive intervention strategies.

Type 2 allows for the validation and refinement of the various adaptive intervention strategies via creative research designs.

Type 3 refers to comparative effectiveness (confirmatory) trials where targeted or personalized intervention models are pitted against “one-size-all” models in real-world settings.

Type 4 recognizes that prevention programming can aim to change more than individual behavior; it can also target entire communities by modifying service delivery systems (e.g., systems change, interagency collaboration, genetic counseling), environmental changes through social networks, or instituting targeted policies that are different from one community to the next.

Type 5, globalizing the application of this knowledge and change in public opinion, has yet to be realized for prevention science.

There is a need to reform universal social systems to become more responsive to individual human needs based on sound and well-tested scientific evidence, taking into account global political, economic and cultural variations. The ultimate goal of each translational phase is to compel a more effective and compassionate response to behavioral health problems; clinical and public health policies will be increasingly responsive and effective, thereby exerting greater reductions in such problems.