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Office of the Vice President for Research

UofSC Professor Ron Prinz Lands $11.16 Million Grant to Launch a Research Center on Children’s Well-Being

Thanks to a new grant of $11.16 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of South Carolina will soon be home to a third prestigious NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). This new NIH COBRE grant will establish the Research Center for Child Well-Being, led by principal investigator and center director Ron Prinz, a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Michael Beets, a Carolina Distinguished Professor in the Arnold School of Public Health’s Department of Exercise Science, will serve as the center’s associate director.

University of South Carolina Vice President for Research, Prakash Nagarkatti touted the significance of this award, saying, “It is so exciting to welcome a third COBRE to UofSC. This major award of more than $11 million is a credit to our research enterprise, and to the dedicated researchers—Dr. Prinz, Dr. Beets and their collaborators—who worked so hard to make it a reality. Our strong focus on interdisciplinary research makes the University of South Carolina fertile ground for major research centers of excellence, and I look forward to watching the Research Center for Child Well-Being flourish in the years to come.”

The centerpiece will be prevention research pertaining to children ages 2 to 10. We are fortunate to have a talented team of prevention scientists, supported by expert methodologists and implementation staff, to test and improve promising strategies involving parents, schools and community resources for the benefit of children.

— Ron Prinz, Director of the Research Center for Child Well-Being

The interdisciplinary center, with its focus on prevention strategies to improve child well-being, will involve at least 17 faculty researchers from five departments across four UofSC colleges and schools, and an external collaborator with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Together, these outstanding researchers will conduct prevention research aimed dually at reducing risk for mental, emotional and behavioral problems, and decreasing unhealthy lifestyle behaviors like physical inactivity and excessive screen time, in children ages 2 to 10. The preventive interventions will draw on a range of influences such as families, schools and community settings. The center’s research has implications not only for the well-being of children but also for academic success, health, behavior in adolescence and long-term outcomes in adulthood related to mental health, substance misuse and physical disorder (obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disorders, for example).  

“The centerpiece will be prevention research pertaining to children ages 2 to 10,” says center director Dr. Ron Prinz. "We are fortunate to have a talented team of prevention scientists, supported by expert methodologists and implementation staff, to test and improve promising strategies involving parents, schools and community resources for the benefit of children."  

In addition to its impactful research goals, the Research Center for Child Well-Being aims to support the development of early-career faculty researchers in fields related to children’s social, emotional and behavioral health and well-being. By engaging senior faculty as mentors to provide support and guidance to talented early-stage faculty, the center will work to build up a new generation of top-notch researchers who will continue making breakthroughs on prevention to benefit children well into the future.

“Conducting high quality preventive interventions for children is a complex and challenging task,” says associate center director Dr. Michael Beets. “The center will provide opportunities for our exceptional group of early-career investigators to master the intricacies of designing, implementing and evaluating interventions, and to receive critical infrastructure support necessary for their success. Our center will accelerate their trajectories toward becoming leaders in the field of child well-being.”

By examining and promoting children’s health and well-being from a holistic perspective that factors in mental, emotional, behavioral and physical health aspects, the center will be positioned to make major breakthroughs with the potential to improve the lives of children around the world. And, by investing in UofSC’s early-career faculty with decades of research excellence ahead of them, the center will have an especially strong benefit for the children of South Carolina.

UofSC President Bob Caslen said, “Citizens and families in South Carolina cherish our state’s children. Through the prestigious new Research Center for Child Well-Being, the University of South Carolina has an exciting opportunity to build prevention strategies that will enhance the health and well-being of our children across the state. Congratulations to Professor Prinz, Professor Beets and their team on this major achievement.”

 

COBRE for Child Well-Being Faculty Collaborators

 

17 March 2020 

 


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