Q&A With Anna Adachi-Mejia, Director of Dartmouth’s Health Promotion Research Center

Anna Adachi-Mejia, Director of the Health Promotion Research Center at DartmouthFor the past two years, The Dartmouth Institute’s Anna Adachi-Mejia, PhD, has helped lead the Health Promotion Research Center at Dartmouth (HPRCD) as deputy director. Supported by a $3.7 million cooperative agreement from the CDC as part of its charge to ‘build healthier communities,’ the HPRCD's work includes testing and applying approaches that can improve the nation's health, particularly in the areas of obesity, tobacco use, and mental health.

Recently, Adachi-Mejia was appointed to Director of HPRCD by Stephen Bartels, MD, MS, the lead Principal Investigator for HPRCD, which is based at The Dartmouth Institute. Below she reflects on her work and HPRCD’s role in addressing some of today's pressing public health concerns.

Q: Congratulations on being named the Director of the HPRCD. The HPRCD is part of a national CDC network. Can you describe your connection to the network?

A: We are part of a larger national network of 26 Prevention Research Centers across the country. Each center engages in collaborative research with community and clinical partners to address practical health promotion and disease prevention strategies that can bring long-term benefits to our community.

Q: What are HPRCD’s focus areas?

A: At HPRCD, we identify needs, provide technical assistance, develop partnerships, and mentor early research career investigators. HPRCD investigators specialize in public health topic areas including obesity, tobacco, epilepsy, oral health, survivorship, and healthy aging. The core research team focuses on high-risk populations with obesity and/or tobacco dependence receiving care in community mental health centers and in primary care settings. Our lead Principal Investigator, Stephen Bartels, MD, MS, is nationally recognized in this area. He also mentors junior faculty on research career development and on writing successful research grants.

Q: How can researchers learn more about HPRCD’s activities?

A: On our website, www.hprcd.org, you can find resources for researchers and for the general public, information about our events, information about partner events, and links to press releases about our investigators’ work. Our Research Assistant Stephanie Kelly posts weekly updates, so check back often! The events page displays information about the monthly Research Think Tanks that I facilitate.

Q: Tell us more about those Research Think Tanks. What is their purpose?

A: HPRCD hosts monthly Obesity and Tobacco Research Think Tanks as an opportunity for Dartmouth researchers and their collaborators to discuss current issues related to their grant applications. At these meetings we offer technical assistance and facilitate new connections. Researchers can bring a question, talk about a need, or bring the aims of their next grant. We focus on helping attendees think through what they need to move their work forward.

Q: Among your own studies you have explored barriers to physical activity in rural areas. What are some of your next steps for your own research?

A: One of the interesting findings in my most recent paper on barriers to physical activity is that rural women often wrote about physical impediment as being a barrier to physical activity. In those cases women don’t need to hear more messages about their need to be more active. Instead, they need help with working through how to be more active in spite of having impairment. I hope that in future interventions we can integrate more physical rehabilitation and/or occupational therapy to help people work towards greater ability to be more active.

Q: You also co-chair the Physical Activity Policy Research Network Plus (PAPRN+) Older Adult Working Group. Can you tell us more about that?

A: This national group is committed to raising awareness of and promoting policies and priorities on active aging through shared research and evaluation. The group is comprised of multidisciplinary experts ranging from practitioners to researchers. One of our subgroups plans to study promotion of outdoor physical activity for older adults in the context of policy recommendations. We welcome new members to join us at any time!

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