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Health Promotion Research Center             April 2015

HPRC to Coordinate New Healthy Brain Research Network

HBRN logoHPRC has been named the Coordinating Center of the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Brain Research Network (HBRN). The network comprises five leading academic institutions around the U.S.:

  • University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center (Coordinating Center)
  • Oregon Health and Science University Center for Healthy Communities
  • University of Arizona Prevention Research Center
  • University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center
  • University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center

The CDC is initiating this thematic network to address a pair of growing public health challenges for our society: promoting cognitive health and addressing the needs of increasing numbers of older Americans living with cognitive impairment. 

As the coordinating center, HPRC will provide leadership and infrastructure, coordinate assessment activities for the multidisciplinary HBRN, and participate in the collaborative activities of the network. “The UW HPRC is thrilled to serve as the Coordinating Center for the HBRN, and we look forward to working with the HBRN member centers over the next five years,” said Basia Belza, core investigator at HPRC and professor in the UW School of Nursing. “We believe our collective impact will be much greater than what individual centers could achieve on their own.”

Dr. Belza will work closely with a team of colleagues at UW, including Dr. Rebecca Logsdon, research professor, School of Nursing Psychosocial and Community Health; Lesley Steinman, research scientist, HPRC; Dr. Mark Snowden, associate professor, School of Medicine Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Christina Miyawaki, T32 postdoctoral fellow, Group Health Research Institute; and Gwen Moni, research coordinator, HPRC.

HBRN UW team

UW HBRN team (l-r): Christina Miyawaki, Basia Belza, Gwen Moni, Rebecca Logsdon, Mark Snowden. Not pictured: Lesley Steinman

The HBRN will further the goals of the CDC Healthy Aging Program’s Healthy Brain Initiative; its work will be guided by the Healthy Brain Initiative Public Health Road Map for State and National Partnerships. The network’s goals through 2019 are:

1) Establish and advance a public health research, translation, and dissemination agenda that promotes cognitive health and healthy aging, addresses cognitive impairment, and helps meet the needs of care partners;

2) Build a strong evidence base for policy, communication, and programmatic interventions;

3) Collaborate with public health agencies and their partners to accelerate effective practices in states and communities; 

4) Build the capacity of public health professionals through training opportunities.

HBRN activities will be guided by a social ecological approach and aimed toward increasing the capacity of public health agencies and their partners to implement actions within the Road Map. Working together, the network will support fellowships within its collaborating universities and centers, and create unique national networking opportunities across its campus-community partnerships.

Older Americans Who Inspire Us

May is Older Americans Month -- we asked HPRC staff to reflect upon older Americans who have inspired them. Read about them here, and through May on our Facebook page.

Joyce DronenJoyce Dronen, age 94

My grandmother is an incredible woman. Joyce has lived a life caring for elders. She and my grandfather Vernon (who passed in 1994) started a small nursing home in Cashmere, Washington, 60 years ago. The nursing home expanded to four wings, an assisted living facility, and a retirement home. Joyce raised three boys, was a nurse, a teacher, and a major part of her grandchildren and children’s lives. Her home has become a central hub for her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and their friends. She’s known as the Rice Krispies Queen and is constantly delivering treats around the community. Although retired, she continually serves elders and can run a mean table of dominos. When you imagine the sweetest, kindest, most caring person, that is my grandmother Joyce. She has inspired me to ensure all elders’ dignity and joy.
- Anna Dronen, HPRC research assistant


Mary Anne HarrisMary Anne Harris, age 85

I am inspired by my very active 85-year-old mother, Mary Anne Harris. She and my father live independently in a townhome in Arlington, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. She cycles or walks almost every day, leading a group of women from her neighborhood. As she walks, she carries a small bag and picks up trash, in an effort to keep her neighborhood clean. She has had a couple of falls and broken both arms. Her recoveries have not been painless, but they have been pretty quick because she is very adherent to the rehabilitation recommendations she gets from her physicians and physical therapists.
      She and my father continue to travel a lot, all over the world. Cruises are their favorite means of travel. They are also a continuing positive force in the lives of their five young-adult grandchildren.
- Jeff Harris, HPRC director


When I was a student at Fairhaven College, Western Washington University, there was a program called “The Bridge Project.” “Bridgers” were a remarkable group of retired people who attended college classes and lived in adult housing on campus. They gave first-hand accounts in history class and danced with us at rock and roll shows. They loved being there, and their presence contributed immeasurably to my college experience. They were profound role models, and I became very close to several. They taught me that learning is a joyful, life-long activity, and there’s no reason to ever stop having fun.
- Yael Yanich, HPRC administrative coordinator

Dolores_HuertaDolores Huerta, age 84

Dolores Huerta, born in 1930 in New Mexico, is a lifelong leader and advocate for workers’, immigrants’, and women’s rights. She is an inspiring example of living in service to social justice and positive change. Her remarkable bravery and determination, in the face of sometimes violent opposition, has earned her numerous humanitarian awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. At 84, Huerta continues to work tirelessly advocating for the working poor, women, and children. I was fortunate to see her speak at a Human Rights Campaign youth conference in February 2015.
Sheri Simonsen, HPRC communications specialist

Older Americans continued >>


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Save the Dates

Research to Reality Cyber-Seminar: Moving to a Model of Wellness: Workplace Cancer Prevention and Health Promotion Programs

Date: Tuesday, April 21
11:00 am to 12:00 pm PST

Presenters: Joanne Pike and Peggy Hannon

Register here

Community Advisory Board (CAB) meeting 

Date: Friday, April 24
8:45 am to 12:00 pm

At: Tukwila Community Center Directions

Seminar: Time Management

Date: Thursday, May 14
10:00 am to 10:50 am

At: HPRC Directions

Presenter: Jeff Harris, HPRC Director

Visit our website for notices of other upcoming seminars.


HPRC is pleased to welcome two new staff members:

  • Riki Mafune, who joins the HealthLinks team as a wellness consultant
  • Caitlin Mayotte, who will support several projects as a program coordinator

We also welcome two new CAB members:

  • Margaret Boddie, program manager of the African American Elders Program, Catholic Community Services
  • Marcia Ridley, director of dental strategy and market solutions, Premera Blue Cross


We bid a fond farewell and thank you to departing CAB member Teresa Mosqueda.

Recent Publications

Subjects of our latest publications include:

  • Public perceptions about cognitive health risk and protective factors;
  • Determinants of ongoing participation in EnhanceFitness;
  • Evaluation of chronic disease reduction through policy and systems changes;
  • And more!

See our recently published articles here


Healthy Aging Summit


Changing the Course of American Health through Mentoring

Mentoring Lecture students Feb. 3

Photos from the February 3 lecture 


Health Promotion Research Center is a research center at the University of Washington School of Public Health funded by the Prevention Research Centers Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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