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Prevention Research Centers LogoThe Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention continues to bring essential health promotion resources to underserved areas of North Carolina with an initial focus on 
heart disease in Hertford County

(Chapel Hill, N.C.—Oct. 1, 2014) The Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received a $3.75 million cooperative agreement to renew its status as a Prevention Research Center through 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding will help UNC researchers conduct innovative prevention research in North Carolina communities that can help combat chronic disease with long-term solutions.

HPDP is one of 26 prevention research centers in 25 states to receive the award, and is eligible for additional funding in the next five years to study how people and their communities can avoid chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity and cancer.  HPDP, which partners with other prevention research centers to ensure effective health strategies are readily shared with other underserved communities, was one of the first three centers funded when the program began in 1986 and has maintained its status for the past 27 years.

“HPDP is a research center at UNC that serves the people of North Carolina by leveraging substantial federal funding to help prevent chronic disease, thus building a healthier population and workforce and improving quality of life,” said Alice Ammerman, professor of nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, who will continue as director of HPDP.

The cooperative agreement includes Carolina Heart Alliance Networking for Greater Equity (CHANGE), an applied research project that will begin in Hertford County, an underserved community with high rates of heart disease. The project will test more effective ways to prevent heart attacks and strokes through several approaches, including clinical care, behavior change counseling and policy and environmental change such as accessible sidewalks and farmers markets.

“By building on and connecting the strengths of local communities, we will help foster their capacity for long term health, rather than creating something that will disappear at the end of the grant,” said Ammerman.

Successful strategies will be scaled up and disseminated to other communities across the state.  Jennifer Leeman, assistant professor in the UNC School of Nursing and Sam Cykert, professor in the UNC School of Medicine, will lead the CHANGE project.

“We plan to develop and test a novel approach to train community health workers to help patients, families and friends better understand their personal heart disease risks and deliver a lifestyle change intervention to reduce this risk,” Leeman said.

HPDP will partner with the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center and Hertford County Public Health Authority initially, and then other clinical sites and health departments will join the work.  Kim Schwartz, chief executive officer of the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, said the project provides a unique opportunity for her community.

“It truly takes a village to assist in reducing the negative impact of chronic disease,” Schwartz said.  “By working with the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, our team is excited about the project and the potential for more tools to strengthen the community-clinical linkages in Hertford County.”

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention contact: Sonya Sutton,,

(919) 966-4118

Communications and Public Affairs contact: Thania Benios,, (919) 962-8596

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