innovative ways to prevent disease and promote health, focus on high-priority public health issues, and conduct research and demonstration activities that result in improved public health practice. The PRCs are intended to serve as bridges between science and practice, and from academia to state and local health departments, health care providers and provider organizations, and community organizations, as well as with CDC. Evaluation research is embedded in many of the PRC interventions, the center also train public health professionals in applied prevention research.
Funding for the PRCs includes three components: (1) core center funding from CDC, which must be used, in part, for at least one demonstration project with a state or local health department or board of education; (2) supplemental funding, also from CDC, to address special interest projects (SIPs) proposed annually and funded by various components of CDC each year; and (3) funding from other public and private sources.
The PRC program was authorized by Congress in 1984 by Public Law 98-551. This legislation was supported by the Association of Schools of Public Health, which viewed the PRC program as a way to enhance health promotion activities by fostering better linkages between the schools of public health and the public health practice community and between academia and CDC. Congress mandated that the PRCs be located at academic health centers capable of providing multidisciplinary faculties with expertise in public health, relationships with professionals in other relevant fields, graduate training and demonstrated curricula in disease prevention, and a capability for residency training in public health or preventive medicine. The PRC program was established at the CDC in 1985, but no funding was appropriated until 1986, when the first three centers were established.
CDC has evolved from an agency born of the need to control malaria in the United States during World War II to the nation's primary agency for the control of a broad spectrum of contemporary health hazards related to environmental and occupational exposures, chronic diseases, and behavioral risks (CDC, 1994). CDC's mission to “promote health and quality of life by preventing disease, injury and disability” (CDC, 1994) and its special relationship with state and local health departments make it a good institutional home for the health promotion and disease prevention content and the community-based focus of the PRC program. Because of the rapidly changing health care environment, CDC sees its role and relationship to the public health community changing significantly with prevention research and dissemination