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Global Obesity Prevention Center

Pilot Awards

Round 6 Pilot Awardees-November 2014


Health Support Networks for Preventing Childhood Obesity in Home Visitation Programs


GOPC Contacts:

Susan Carnell, PhD - and Lawrence Cheskin, MD, FACP, FTOS -

Researchers at the University of Southern California will use a systems perspective to assess the ways in which participants’ health support networks change in response to two different wellness initiatives, COPE and Wellness Challenge.  The Childhood Obesity Prevention at Home (COPE) provides in-home services primarily to low-income mothers with children in an effort to prevent obesity from birth, while Wellness Challenge encourages connections between residents and community organizations committed to the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Researchers hope to gain insight into the course of families’ health support systems over the full implementation period of 2 – 3 years.

Kayla de la Haye, Ph.D., Principal InvestigatorKayladelaHaye
Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine
Department of Preventive Medicine & Institute for Prevention Research (IPR)
University of Southern California

Kayla de la Haye is a behavioral scientist who specializes in applying social network analysis and systems science to health promotion and disease prevention. She has examined the spread of obesity in adolescent peer network, and collaborates on several projects that explore how socio-ecological systems influence health behaviors in youth and families. In partnership with the National Human Genome Research Institute she is developing interventions that activate family social networks to support healthy behaviors and reduce disease risk. Dr. de la Haye is a member of the International Network of Social Network Analysis and the American Academy of Health Behavior.

Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, Ph.D., Co-Investigator  Sarah
Research Associate Professor  
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
University of Southern California

Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, a child clinical and pediatric psychologist, focuses on the physical and social determinants of obesity and on translating evidence-based practices into scalable and sustainable models of childhood obesity prevention in at-risk populations. She has been Principal Investigator of two NIH grants totaling over 1.8 million dollars. Salvy is a fellow of the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, a fellow of the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research and an adjunct behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation (Santa Monica, CA).

A Systems-oriented Approach to Evaluating Local SSB Tax Ordinances


GOPC Contacts:

Sara Bleich, PhD - and Bruce Y. Lee, MD, MBA -

Proposed by researchers at UC Berkeley School of Public Health, this project will examine the impact of a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) excise tax on media, retail environments, and child and adult SSB consumption in Berkley, San Francisco, and Oakland (a comparison city). There is compelling evidence indicating that SSBs promote excess weight gain in children, and the reduction of SSB consumption has thus been cited as an important intervention in addressing childhood obesity. 

Jennifer Falbe, ScD, MPH, Postdoctoral PIJen Falbe
Postdoctoral Fellow
UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health

Dr. Falbe has expertise in epidemiology and public health nutrition. Her research focuses on identifying modifiable determinants of childhood obesity and developing and testing programs, policies, and environmental interventions to improve diet and increase physical activity. Her recent work has focused on multi-sector interventions among disadvantaged youth and on the impact of screen time on child health.

Kristine Madsen, MD, MPH, Principal Investigator  Kris
Associate Professor 
UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health  

Dr. Madsen is a pediatrician and research scientist with expertise in the design and evaluation of interventions related to pediatric obesity and health inequalities.   Her research is focused on identifying policies and programs that will improve youths’ nutrition and physical-activity environments.   

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, CollaboratorLori
Director, Berkeley Media Studies Group
Public Health Institute

Dr. Dorfman oversees BMSG’s research, media advocacy training and strategic consultation for public health advocates, and professional education for journalists. Dr. Dorfman’s research examines how the media portray health issues, including alcohol, tobacco, nutrition, food, children’s health, health inequities, and violence, among others. Dr. Dorfman is part of an interdisciplinary team that helped news organizations include a public health perspective in their crime and violence coverage. 

PamcroppedPamela Mejia, MS, MPH Collaborator
Director of Research, Berkeley Media Studies Group 
Public Health Institute

Ms. Mejia studies how the media portrays public health and social justice issues including sugary drink regulation.  Her work has appeared in journals including the American Journal of Public Health, and she has presented at the American Public Health Association's annual meetings, at the National Child Advocacy Center’s International Symposiums, and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others. Pamela graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor's in human nutrition. She received master's degrees in molecular and biochemical nutrition and public health at UC Berkeley.

Applying Systems Science Approaches to Understanding How Strengthening Network Capacity Enhances the Implementation of Nutrition-Incentive Programs for Preventing Childhood Obesity in the Context of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program


GOPC Contacts:

Pamela Surkan, ScD, PhD -

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a collaborator at Wholesome Wave, will receive funding through a special fund established by Dean Klag. This project aims to use a systems science approach to answer time-sensitive questions about how strengthening network capacity influences nutrition incentive programs and prepares them for scaling-up, ultimately contributing to the prevention of childhood obesity. 

Ligia Paina, PhD, Principal InvestigatorPaina
Assistant Scientist
Health Systems Program
International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Paina worked as a Research Assistant at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, as a consultant for Broad Branch Associates, and as Health Systems Advisor in USAID’s Health, Infectious Diseases, and Nutrition Office.  Her research goal is to improve understanding of how to intervene in complex systems in order to ensure quality and affordable health care access, particularly for poor, rural, and underserved populations.

Pamela Surkan, PhD, Co-InvestigatorSurkan
Assistant Professor
International Health, Social Behavior Interventions Program, JHBSPH

Dr. Surkan's research background is cross-disciplinary and focused on behavioral determinants of health, examining interactions between social conditions and other factors that impact health, such as dietary behaviors and environmental exposures. 

Wholesome Wave, a key partner for this research project, is a Connecticut-based organization whose mission is to enable people in underserved urban and rural communities to make healthier food choices by increasing affordability and access to fresh, locally grown foods in ways that improve health, generate revenue for small and mid-sized farms and bolster local and regional economies. 

For this project, the main points of contact from Wholesome Wave will be:   

PonJulia Pon
Senior Manager
Double Value Coupon Program



huntAlan Hunt
Policy and Research