recommendations for CDC management and oversight of the PRC program that address some of the issues raised in this chapter.
The first question asked of the committee regards the level of innovation in the research conducted by the PRCs:
To what extent are the university-initiated research and demonstration projects devoted to new and significant public health issues, new intervention strategies, or new methods to improve the practice of public health?
In addressing this question, the committee found it necessary to expand the traditional criterion of innovativeness to encompass the populations and problems addressed. A research project might not be judged innovative as basic research, but may be innovative in the context of the purpose of the PRC program if it addressed an underserved or previously unreached population, or if it were to test previously tested methods on a different but important health problem.
In these terms, the committee found that the research and demonstration projects conducted by the PRCs were indeed innovative. Nearly every PRC carries out research on underserved populations. These groups include African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, residents of Harlem and Appalachia, adolescents, and elders. Some of the PRCs focus their efforts or individual projects on more specific populations such as rural African-American older adults (South Carolina), public safety personnel (North Carolina), and Korean-American women (Berkeley).
The PRCs have addressed a wide variety of new and important public health problems. Topics that have been or are being addressed by the PRCs include:
fortification of grains with folates to prevent neural tube defects (Washington);
perinatal transmission of HIV (Berkeley);
physical activity and nutrition in pregnancy (South Carolina);
healthy transition to adolescence (Johns Hopkins);
reproductive health in manufacturing industries (North Carolina);
physical activity, estrogen metabolism, and breast cancer risk (South Carolina);
asthma in African-American and Hispanic communities (Columbia);
physical functioning and quality of life in older adults (Washington);