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Programs and Centers

Our programs and centers are world-renowned for community-engaged, and evidence-based research, training, clinical care and service.

Each center has a unique focus – and we work in teams, finding our interrelated research interests inform and build on one another.

Our collaborations support the pursuit of multifaceted, preventive solutions that eliminate barriers to better public health. 

UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center


The UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center is one of 26 Prevention Research Centers across the country.  Through sustained partnerships and collaborations with community organizations, the UM-PRC is building knowledge to inform effective public health programs and policies that promote healthy weight, healthy behaviors and optimal management of chronic health conditions with the goal of improving the lives of individuals, families and communities in Greater Worcester.  The Center, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is co-directed by Drs. Stephenie Lemon and Milagros Rosal. 

The Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training (CTTRT)


The Center for Tobacco Treatment Research and Training is committed to reducing mortality and morbidity due to tobacco use and nicotine dependence. The CTTRT conducts cutting-edge research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spanning the translational continuum. Our research aims to elucidate brain areas, neural circuitry, and molecular mechanisms underlying nicotine addiction; develop evidence-based tobacco treatment approaches to inform best practices, including the innovative use of technology and health communication techniques to reduce use in youth and adults; apply implementation science approaches to integrate tobacco screening, prevention, and treatment within health care, cancer care, and public health practice; and understand the marketing of tobacco to inform tobacco marketing regulations. Our Center is an integral part of the Tobacco Treatment and Nicotine Dependence (TTND) Research Committee of the UMass Cancer Center’s Cancer Population Health Sciences (CPHS) Program.  The Center’s accredited Tobacco Treatment Specialist (TTS) Training Program, the first in the nation, trains professionals in the delivery of evidence-based tobacco use disorder treatment. CTTRT contracts with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to provide coaching to Massachusetts healthcare delivery organizations to integrate evidence-based tobacco treatment interventions, with a particular focus on addressing racial disparities and health equity in tobacco treatment to improve the health of those most burdened by tobacco use. The Center’s Training program and DPH contract are managed by Caroline Cranos.  The Center was founded and is directed by Dr. Lori Pbert. 

 The Center for Applied Nutrition (CAN)

The Center for Applied Nutrition helps empower individuals to make healthy food choices so that they can enjoy the highest quality of life. The Center for Applied Nutrition specializes in dietary interventions for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, obesity, and gastrointestinal diseases. Through studies, individual counseling, or classes, we teach individuals successful ways to make healthy dietary changes into long-term lifestyle changes to prevent and treat chronic diseases and conditions. The Center also has the capacity to conduct nutritional analyses with a cadre of trained dietitian callers.  The Center is directed by Ms. Barbara Olendzki.

The Research Center for Behavior and Community Health Solutions

Our Research Center for Behavior and Community Health Solutions is interdisciplinary and includes health psychologists, epidemiologists, dietitians, health educators, biostatisticians and physicians. We conduct clinical trials of behavioral interventions and observational research in the areas of community health and health disparities, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Our interventions seek to enhance change and long-term adherence in the areas of healthy eating, physical activity, smoking cessation, cancer screening, and physical and mental health care utilization, among other.

We develop novel approaches for translating evidence-based behavioral interventions in ways that are culturally, literacy and linguistically appropriate. To this end, we have developed narrative-based tools (i.e., stories, novellas with guided group discussions), picture-based materials, and hands-on skill building methods that facilitate and promote adherence to health behavior change. Our work builds from participatory collaborations with community partners, including community health centers throughout Massachusetts, local and State Departments of Public Health, and a variety of community-based organizations. Our research portfolio is largely federally funded and our clinical trials assess the impact of our interventions in "real world" settings. The center's director, Dr. Milagros C. Rosal, and other faculty serve as consultants to local stakeholders and to local, national and international initiatives.

The UMass Center for Digital Health

UMass Center for Digital Health was funded by 2016 President’s Science & Technology Initiatives Fund, as a cross-campus initiative with researchers from three UMass campuses: Lowell, Worcester, and Boston. The center will be a hub for research activities in digital health innovations. It includes validation and evaluation of tools for digital health; academe-industry partnerships in digital health; consultancy and technology transfer for digital health; and education for the digital health workforce.

Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, MPH at UMass Medical School,  is co-director of the center at UMass Medical School campus. Yu Cao, PhD, associate professor of computer science, and Katherine Tucker, PhD, professor of nutritional epidemiology, at UMass Lowell and Wei Ding, PhD, associate professor of computer science, at UMass Boston are also co-directors of the center at their campuses, respectively.

The Center for Engagement and Skill Development (CESD)

The Center for Engagement and Skill Development (CESD) specializes in developing, testing and implementing programs to teach clinical students (medical and nursing) the skills needed for engaging and working with patients to implement and maintain change in health-related behaviors. The Center conducts cutting-edge research and provides up-to-date, evidence-based information with an emphasis on educational intervention for obesity, tobacco, alcohol, nutrition and physical activity.  Medical education administration highlights the need for medical students, residents and fellows to receive skill-centered training in assessment, counseling, and intervention.

Our Center includes faculty and staff experienced in engagement, implementation, and measurement. They provide medical students, residents, and fellows with the tools to intervene effectively, efficiently, and without bias producing measureable outcomes. It is interdisciplinary including health psychologists, health educators, recruitment and engagement specialists, biostatisticians, nutritionists, and physicians. Our work builds on collaborations with medical school and residency programs at UMass Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and 12 other medical schools across the nation.  Our research portfolio has received research funds from the National Institutes of Health (NCI, NHLBI, NIAA) and the American Cancer Society. The center was founded and is directed by Dr. Judith K. Ockene.