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GCHB Research and Centers

Research Areas

Faculty in GCHB focus on behavioral and social science research. Behavior and context are central to all of public health. Many of the major diseases causing death and disability stem from behavior – such as smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating, inactivity, sexual risk-taking, and violence – so public health practitioners need to understand the reasons people engage in these behaviors and how we can work with people and communities to have healthier lives.

Factors that influence health behavior range from individual to interpersonal, community to structural levels, including knowledge, attitude, family structure, economic status, social norms, and the built environment.

In Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences our research is geared towards serving the communities we work with. We study the individual, social, and environmental determinants of unhealthy behaviors, effective interventions leading to positive behavior change, and the translation of evidence-based research to public health practice.

Faculty research in GCHB explores how behavior and context are implicated in the major public health problems of our day, including drug abuse, risky sexual behavior, under– and over–nutrition, maternal and child mortality, and violence. Our research also focuses on promoting healthier behavior, healthier environments, and universal coverage of essential services, and how to plan, monitor, and evaluate programs that pursue these goals.

Research Centers

Center for Global Health Equity

The Center for Global Health Equity addresses global health disparities with an interdisciplinary focus and facilitates technical assistance, particularly in the areas of monitoring and evaluation. Building of infrastructure and health systems to improve health outcomes in resource-limited regions is approached through collaboration with the national governments of several countries to implement local capacity building in these areas.

Center for Studies of Displaced Populations

The Center for Studies of Displaced Populations is a new center established in 2016 that studies individuals and families in transition. The principal study is "Demographic and Health Disparities in Recovery from Hurricane Katrina: KATRINA@10." The NIH-funded KATRINA@10 Program consists of an interrelated set of three primary data collection projects that focus on one specific sub-population who were uniquely affected by Hurricane Katrina; two secondary analyses of data that are more broadly representative of the overall affected population; and three cores to support the set of research projects.

Mary Amelia Douglas-Whited Community Women’s Health Education Center (MAC)

The Mary Amelia Center seeks to reduce inequities in women’s health and to enhance health and well-being through community building, interdisciplinary research on health promotion and determinants, advocacy, and leadership development.  This center is endowed by the Frost Foundation with projects funded through the NIH and other agencies.  Projects include:

  • Neighborhood Stress and Physiology among children study (NIH)
  • Cardiovascular Responses to Stress in Pregnancy Study
  • Maternal Transmission of Stress Study
  • Tulane Stress and Environment Research Collaborative on Health Disparities (SERCH)
  • Fussy Baby Network – a partnership program
  • Gulf Resilience on Women's Health (GROWH) – a partnership program
The MEASURE Evaluation Project Phase IV

MEASURE Evaluation is a partnership among: Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Palladium Group, ICF, John Snow, Inc., Management Sciences for Health, and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.  The USAID-funded MEASURE Evaluation project has worked in this arena for over 20 years and is currently in Phase IV with the mandate to strengthen health systems in low-resource settings. The MEASURE project:

  • Develops and applies methods for monitoring and evaluating population health and HIV/AIDS programs worldwide.
  • Uses evaluation to obtain a more coordinated approach to monitoring and evaluation that leads to a more cost-effective and efficient health program.
  • Provides technical assistance and training to personnel from USAID, its cooperating agencies, ministries of health, and NGOs to build local capacities in monitoring and evaluation.
  • Assists countries in the systematic collection and analysis of evidence about health program performance and impact.
  • Builds in-country capacity and accountability for moving toward the key global priorities of an AIDS-free generation and ending preventable child and maternal deaths.
Tulane Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, and Practice (CEMCH)

Tulane Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Education, Science, and Practice (CEMCH) is a training program working to expand and strengthen the MCH workforce for the purpose of improving the health status of women, infants, children, youth and families in Louisiana and beyond. It is supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The CEMCH offers seminars and workshops, student mentoring, and professional development resources. In addition to the CEMCH Scholars program, which provides additional training to select MCH students, the CEMCH also supports the MCH-focused academic program, ensuring alignment with MCH national and program competencies; offers opportunities for MCH student exposure to research projects and translation of research to practice; and works closely with MCH-related community organizations and MCH governmental agencies to provide technical assistance and opportunities for student involvement.

Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC)

Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC)is one of 26 prevention research centers and has been funded by the CDC for community-based participatory research since 1998. The PRC mission is to reduce and prevent obesity in the Greater New Orleans area by addressing the physical and social environmental factors that influence diet and physical activity. The work of the PRC is community initiated and guided, and its community reach is through grassroots efforts as well as through stakeholder and policy levels. The Tulane PRC facilitates changes in the social and physical environment to promote health and healthy behaviors by designing and implementing strategies for prevention.

  • Partnership for an Active Community Environment (PACE): The PRC core research project identifies barriers to physical activity and assesses the impact of environmental change in the Upper Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. Neighborhood organizations participate on the project steering committee.  The project-funded supervisors from the local school serve as playground monitors to keep a playground open after school hours.
  • The Food Policy Advisory Committee (FPAC) is a broad-based committee of area business and policy leaders working to improve access to fresh healthy food. The FPAC was authorized by a resolution New Orleans City Council in May 2007.  The committee consists of local stakeholders.
  • The Food Ubiquity Study examines the prevalence of snack foods available at non-food retailers. This Tulane PRC project utilizes local observers in 20 cities to assess the availability of high-calorie snack foods in retail outlets. 
  • The Impact of Improved Play Equipment for Physical Activity in school children project assesses the effect of playground equipment without organized activity on the physical activity of children. After Hurricane Katrina, play structures were built on a number of schoolyards in New Orleans.  Staff assessed physical activity levels of children in several schools before and after the play structures were installed.
Violence Prevention Institute

Violence Prevention Institute at Tulane functions as a hub for facilitating, executing and expanding multidisciplinary, violence prevention related research, teaching, and community participation activities and outputs across Tulane University, in New Orleans and beyond by coordinating communications and logistics, circulating prevention research related funding opportunities and other VP resources, and creating productive connections within networks of faculty, staff, current students, alums, community partners and other stakeholders interested in developing and disseminating evidence-informed program and policy solutions to violence. The VPI highlights the violence prevention related work of over 50 participating faculty and 7 doctoral students across 7 University schools and 11 departments ranging from social work to public health to neuroscience in digital reservoirs of publications, new faculty-led research projects, Tulane courses, media appearances, and community resources on its website. Examples of VPI research focus areas include:

  • Prevention of child physical punishment
  • Trauma-informed learning environments
  • Infant mental health and psychopathology
  • The epigenetic impact of violence (how they get "under the skin" biologically)
  • The impact of oppression / systemic violence on caregiver and child health over time
  • Neighborhood and social network influences on substance use, mental health, and health outcomes

The VPI is directed by Dr. Catherine Taylor and managed by Alex Lopez (alopezhe@tulane.edu)