Research Projects

Parents and Children Together (PACT)

Principal Investigator:  Geoffrey Brown
Funding Agency:  National Institute on Child Health and Development
Project Period:  2018-2023

This research project focuses on new African American fathers living in rural contexts.  The first aim of this study is to examine the influence of protective social networks on fathers’ relationships with their infants. A second aim is to investigate the fathering behaviors that are most likely to facilitate infant development.    We propose to recruit 200 young Black couples from rural Georgia communities who are unmarried and expecting their first child. Expectant mothers and fathers will be enrolled during the third trimester of pregnancy (Baseline). Fathers, mothers, and co-caregivers will participate in 3 follow up data collection visits when infants are 3 months, 12 months, and 24 months of age. We will implement a multi-informant and multi-method data collection strategy with self-reports from parents and co-caregivers, observations of parent-infant interactions and infant development, and social network data from mothers and fathers.

Promoting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF2)

Principal Investigator:  Steven Beach
Funding Agency:  National Institute on Aging
Project Period:  2012-2023

This study follows a well-characterized sample of 346 low-income African American couples in middle adulthood. The sample recently concluded participation in a randomized prevention trial of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) program, which NICHD funded in 2012. The ProSAAF program was designed for African American couples living in the rural South and provided a standardized, in-home program focused on preventing the spillover effect from stress onto individual, couple, and family well-being. Longitudinal efficacy analyses revealed direct effects of ProSAAF participation on supportive couple relationship processes that, in turn, forecast individuals’ self-reported physical and mental health.  Continuing to follow this sample with the addition of a comprehensive battery of health-related biomarkers allows for the first prospective study of supportive couple relationships and healthy aging among African Americans conducted within a randomized prevention trial.

Center for Translational and Prevention Science (CTAPS)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2014-2019

In what ways does stress “get under the skin” to influence individuals’ development and increase vulnerability to drug use and sexual risk behaviors?

brainCTAPS is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The overall mission is to gain a better understanding of the development of drug use and sexual risk behavior among children, adolescents, and young adults. Most of this research about these important public health concerns has focused primarily on the environmental contexts in which youth spend time: families, peer groups, neighborhoods, and schools. An impressive body of research has been generated that describes how these influences either deter or create risks for drug use and sexual risk behavior. Other important factors, however, are missing, ones that are critical for understanding why some youth abstain from risk behavior and others develop serious problems that can lead to drug abuse and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. These factors are invisible to the naked eye because they take place “under the skin” of children and youth in response to repeated and prolonged stress. I am talking about the ways in which inflammatory, neuro-endocrine, and neurocognitive systems change as children and youth adapt to stress. The CTAPS community believes that looking at children and youths’ social worlds in concert with inflammatory and neuroscience systems will provide new insights into the development of drug use and abuse and risky behavior and lead to a new generation of prevention programs. CTAPS is a transdisciplinary effort that includes a team of scientists from departments of Psychology, Prevention Science, Public Health, Social Work, and Psychiatry. These investigators are located in universities throughout North American including the University of Georgia, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of California -Los Angeles, the University of Houston, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, McMaster University (Canada), the University of North Carolina, the University of Iowa, and Howard University. To learn more about CTAPS, please visit

SAAF Healthy Adults Project (SHAPE)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NICHD
Project Period: 2008-2013

What influences affect psychological adjustment, allostatic load, and substance use among rural African Americans as they make the transition into adulthood?

jumping on trampoulineSHAPE extended the data collection with the participants of the SAAF project as they entered young adulthood. The primary purpose was to assess the trajectory of rural African Americans from early adolescence (age 11) to emerging adulthood (age 22) particularly focusing on self-regulation, physical health, and substance use patterns. Particular attention is being paid to the ways in which familial and extrafamilial relationship networks, involvement in rural institutions (e.g., churches), and racial discrimination from early adolescence through later adolescence affect the transition to adulthood. Additionally, there is an emphasis on biological markers of health in this project. This exploration will concentrate on allostatic load, a measure of chronic physical wear and tear caused by the body’s stress response in meeting environmental demands. This facet of the research is designed to uncover clues about the origins of health disparities between Caucasian and African American populations.

Home-based Prevention for African American Families in Rural Communities (PROSAAF2)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agency: NICHD
Project Period: 2012-2017

Will a home-based program designed to strengthen marital relationships among rural African
American families with an early adolescent help to minimize the impact of economic distress?

familyIn this project, we will recruit 400 economically distressed, two-parent rural African American families who are rearing a youth age 10-14. Families will be randomly assigned to the ProSAAF program or a minimal-contact control condition. ProSAAF consists of 6 structured, 1.5-hour sessions conducted in families’ homes plus two “booster” sessions. The curricula is designed to enhance stress-buffering couple relationship processes, competence-promoting parenting practices, and early adolescent self-regulatory processes. Baseline, 8, 16, and 24-month assessments will be obtained of adolescents’ academic, social, and self-regulatory competence; internalizing and externalizing problems; sexual activity; and substance use and intervention-targeted processes. Recruitment for this project began in January 2013 and will involve a dozen counties located throughout middle Georgia.

The Georgia Home Visiting Program: Technical Assistance, Training, and Performance Monitoring

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Georgia Department of Public Health
Project Period: 2010-2021

brothersIn 2010, Georgia was awarded five years of funding to deliver evidence-based home visiting as a prevention strategy to support maternal, infant, and early childhood well-being among at-risk families. At that time the Governor’s Office of Children and Families issued a subcontract to the Center for Family Research to provide the technical assistance, training, and evaluation of this effort and to provide support for its implementation within a locally-organized system of care. CFR provides state leadership on the TA and Training for Healthy Families Georgia as well as Parents as Teachers and has coordinated the TA/Training of Early Head Start-Home Based Option and Nurse Family Partnership TA and Training. CFR designed the Georgia Home Visiting Information System, GEOHVIS, to support coordinated program implementation and ensure the standardized collection of benchmark data to monitor program effectiveness. In 2016, the Maternal and Child Health Division of Georgia’s Department of Public Heath took over the MIECHV contract with CFR’s Technical Assistance and Quality team still supporting the effort.

African American Men's Project (AMP)

Principal Investigator: Steve Kogan
Funding Agencies: NIAAA
Year Project Began: 2018

What factors influence the successes and challenges of young adult, African American men?

playing ball

This is a continuation of the African American Men’s Health Project (AMP) which followed a cohort of young adult men (n = 505, ages 19-22 at baseline) participating in a study of risky behavior. Three waves of data (mean ages 20.3, 21.9, 23.6) on men’s substance use, and risk and protective processes associated with risky behavior. During this project period, many AMP participants will be exposed to social and economic barriers that are hypothesized to increase their vulnerability to alcohol use onset and escalation and to heightened alcohol use consequences. Two more waves of data will be collected from AMP participants when men are, on average, ages 26 and 29. Additional data points are particularly salient for (a) investigating a delayed onset of heavy drinking, (b) assessing transitions to heavy use, (c) examining changes in proximal stressors associated with barriers to labor force participation and attainment of adult milestones, and (d) documenting the proximal resilience mechanisms associated with alcohol use cessation and abstinence. Leveraging existing and proposed data collection will yield a ~10-year, 5-time-point, prospective study of rural Black men across a critical developmental inflection point for alcohol use research.


The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS)

Principal Investigators: Ronald Simons (UGA), Steven Beach (UGA), Frederick Gibbons (University of Connecticut)
Funding Agencies: NHLBI, NiCHD, NIDA, NIA, NCI
Project Period: 1996-2023

The Family and Community Health Study (FACHS) is a multi-site, longitudinal investigation of the effect of family processes, neighborhood characteristics, and other contextual factors on African American parents and their children. The study was initiated in 1996 with over 800 families, all of which contained a 5th grader. Data has been collected from the study participants every 2-3 years and is ongoing. The children are now adults in their early 30s and most of the parents are late middle-aged. Study variables were measured using observational, survey, and GIS data. Over 200 papers have been published using the FACHS data. These articles cover a wide range of topics including parenting practices, romantic relationships, school success, discrimination, racial socialization, peer affiliations, higher education, occupational achievement, religiosity, substance use, coping resources and mental health.

In recent years, FACHS data collection has expanded to include blood draws to assess cardiometabolic processes, gene expression, and epigenetic aging. Using this data, FACHS investigators have been able to calculate the extent to which an individual is biologically older or younger than their chronological age. Importantly, accelerated biological aging is a major contributor to early onset of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia and other diseases of old age. While conventional medicine emphasizes diet, exercise, and smoking as the primary explanations for speed of aging, FACHS investigators have documented the way that social conditions and experiences also exert a major effect.

Funding for the FACHS project has been provided by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Aging.

Non-project scientists interested in using the FACHS data can contact Mei Ling Ong ( to obtain a list of the scales and measures included at each wave for each category of participant (primary caregiver, secondary caregiver, target child, target’s romantic partner). The scientists then can submit a request proposal, indicating the variables that they would like to use in their analyses, and IRB exemption from their institution approving their use of the anonymized data.  Once approved by the repository committee, researchers will obtain a password that allow them access the data repository.

The FACHS Team
FACHS team members

SAAF-Steps: A Dual Inoculation Approach to Alcohol Prevention among African American Youth

Principal Investigator: Steven Kogan
Funding Agency: NIAAA
Project Period: 2012-2017

How effective is a dual-inoculation strategy of prevention programming in minimizing risk behaviors among youth?

alcohol abuseIn this study, we will recruit a sample of 460 African American families into a four-arm randomized prevention trial and evaluate the differential alcohol prevention effects of (a) a dual inoculation of prevention (youth receive SAAF at age 11 and SAAF–T at age 14) compared to (b) receipt of only one preadolescent inoculation (SAAF only), (c) one mid-adolescent inoculation (SAAF-T only) or (d) no inoculation (control). Our specific aims regarding the efficacy of the dual inoculation strategy are to test the following hypotheses: (1) Rural African American youth randomly assigned to participate in two developmentally appropriate prevention inoculations (SAAF and SAAF–T) will demonstrate lower rates of alcohol use initiation and frequency of use in high school than will youth who receive one (SAAF only or SAAF–T only) or no inoculations. We also expect that single inoculation youth (SAAF only or SAAF–T only) will demonstrate lower rates of alcohol use in high school than will control youth receiving no inoculations, and (2) Effects on alcohol use of a dual inoculation strategy will be mediated by consistently high levels of intervention-targeted protective processes across adolescence.

Center for Contextual Genetics and Prevention Science (CGAPS)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2009-2014

In what ways does the unique genetic makeup of an individual combine with the social context in which he or she lives to determine drug use and sexual risk tendencies?

DNACGAPS is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The overall mission of CGAPS is to gain a better understanding of the development of drug use and sexual risk behavior among children, adolescents, and young adults. Most of the research about these important public health concerns has focused solely on the environmental contexts in which youth spend time: families, peer groups, neighborhoods, and schools. Social scientists have generated an impressive body of research that describes the ways in which these important influences either deter or create risks for youth drug abuse and sexual risk behavior. An important dimension, however, is missing, one that is critical for understanding why some youth abstain from risk behavior altogether, others engage in occasional risk behavior, and some develop serious problems that can lead to substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. The missing dimension is each youth’s unique genetic makeup. Currently, the ways in which an individual’s unique genetic makeup combine with the social context in which he or she lives to determine drug use and sexual risk tendencies are not well understood. We hope that the research that CGAPS sponsors will provide greater insight into this complex interplay and, in turn, influence prevention models currently used to deter involvement with drugs and sexual risk behavior. To learn more, please visit

SAAF Technology Dissemination Model (SAAF-TDM)

Principal Investigator: Carol MacKinnon-Lewis (USF), Christina Grange (UGA)
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2012-2014

Is a live, web-based training as effective as a traditional facilitator (in-person) training at preparing facilitators to implement a universal preventative intervention program with strong fidelity?

working on computerIn this pilot project 40 facilitators in Gadsen County, Florida will receive 24 hours of facilitator training for the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program. A two-wave pre-post design will be conducted with four groups of 10 facilitators to examine the feasibility of an internet-based training intervention to foster facilitators’ fidelity to the SAAF intervention model. After each cohort completes training, they participate in four different four hour meetings to review curriculum content. Facilitator fidelity to the intervention will also be assessed based on independent observer ratings during implementation session with families. Recruitment for this project began in July 2012 and will conclude in February 2014.




The Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Enhanced Engagement Protocol Implementation

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Period: 2011-2013

two childrenCFR is responsible for the technical assistance and training associated with an Enhanced Engagement Protocol designed to increase the numbers of at risk families who enroll in home visiting as well as extend the number of months they remain engaged so as to receive full benefit of the program. The protocol is based on the recruitment and retention protocol that CFR has utilized for the past several decades to enhance research participation. The primary strategy is the activity of a Community Peer Liaison (CPL) who is a graduate of the home visiting program and works in cooperation with the family support worker to support a family’s involvement in home visiting.


Great Start Georgia: Evaluation of the Information and Referral Center and the Enhanced Engagement Protocol

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Period: 2011-13

mother and childrenIn a competitive proposal submitted to HRSA as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, the Great Start Georgia leadership team described two activities that would be crucial to Georgia’s home visiting network infrastructure: (1) a Department of Public Health Central Intake and Referral Center and (2) an Enhanced Engagement Strategy designed to improve home visiting engagement rates of at risk families. CFR is responsible for evaluating both of these initiatives. For the Information and Referral Center evaluation, CFR will compare the IRC-resourced counties with matched control counties to examine number of families linked to resources and rates of utilization of public and privately funded services for young children. A randomized trial is being conducted for the Enhanced Engagement Protocol evaluation allowing a comparison of engagement and retention rates between the intervention and control groups.




Governor's Office for Children and Families Grants Management System Design and Development Project

Principal Investigator: Anita Brown
Funding Agency: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Project Start Date: March 1, 2012

family wavingIn March 2012, CFR was awarded a subcontract from GOCF to design and develop a grants management system that would support their office in the efficient and effective distribution of dollars to local communities to make a positive impact in various areas that align with GOCF’s mission. CFR partnered with the Information Technology Outreach Services of UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to transfer GOCF’s current information system to UGA and begin to administer it while at the same time beginning to design a more comprehensive and facile information system. CFR staff provide technical assistance and training on the information system. An additional component of the contract includes the evaluation of the program efficacy of all GOCF grantees.

Strong African American Families Project (SAAF)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: NIAAA
Project Period: 1999-2011

How can parents and communities help preadolescents to make positive choices as they gain increasing autonomy throughout adolescence?

three young peopleIn 1999, CFR received funds to develop and test a family-based prevention program for rural African American preadolescents and their primary caregivers. Based on more than 10 years of research conducted at the University of Georgia and Iowa State University with African American families, the curriculum was developed under the leadership of Dr. Virginia Molgaard of Iowa State. Cultural relevance was a priority; it was ensured via a series of meetings in which African American parents and youth provided feedback on the curriculum. The result was SAAF, a 7-week family-based program designed to help 11- and 12-year-olds make positive choices as they enter adolescence. Parents and youth meet separately for 1 hour, then work together for another hour in family groups to apply their new skills. More than 600 families participated in this clinical trial. As of July 2008, six of the numerous planned follow-up assessments have been conducted, and positive effects of the program continue to be found three years after participation. The following statement from a mother is an example of how families feel about SAAF “I wish that we could keep going for the rest of the year. I really enjoy using the tools I learned … is a very interesting and fantastic program. Very helpful.” The SAAF curriculum is now available for use by community organizations, government agencies, and church groups. It has been adopted by agencies in Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, California, Iowa, and Washington, DC.

The Rural African American Families Health Project (RAAFH)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2006-2012

Will a family-based program designed to support rural African American teens in making positive decisions and avoiding risky behaviors be effective?

children playingRAAFH is a randomized clinical trial, involving approximately 500 families, that is being conducted in six counties in Georgia. Its purpose is to test the efficacy of the Strong African American Families–Teen (SAAF–T) program, a 5-week, family-based intervention designed to delay the onset of alcohol use and to prevent the use of illicit substances and engagement in risky sexual behaviors among rural African American adolescents. Posttest and long-term follow-up assessments from families who participate in SAAF–T will be compared with those of families assigned to an attention-control group, who participate in a program designed to enhance health and fitness.


The SAAF-Teen Program: Economic Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Phaedra Corso
Funding Agency: NIDA
Project Period: 2008-2013

two friendsIn 2008, NIDA funded an economic evaluation of the SAAF-T program. The efficacy of this program, targeted for youth, ages 14-16 and their primary caregivers, and designed to minimize risky behaviors and support successful transition to young adulthood was explored in the RAAFH project. Two additional data assessments were collected from participating families as part of this economic evaluation. Data indicating program outcomes were considered and program requirements (time burden and resources) were calculated to determine the cost effectiveness of program implementation.



Adults in the Making Project (AIM)

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: NIDA and W. T. Grant Foundation
Project Period: 2004-2010

How can parents and other supportive adults help African American teens make a positive transition to adulthood?

mother daughterAIM is a federally funded research study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-week, family-based program created to support African American teens in their positive transition to adulthood. In 2006, W. T. Grant Foundation provided additional funding to allow an exploration of the influence that supportive adults other than an adolescent’s parents might have on the transition to adulthood. In this clinical trial, families were randomly assigned to participate in one of three conditions: (1) the family-based treatment, (2) the family-based treatment plus a 1-day workshop for supportive adults other than parents, or (3) a control condition. Substance use is the key outcome under study.




The Connections Project

Principal Investigator: Steve Kogan
Funding Agencies: NIDA
Project Period: 2006-2011

What health issues concern rural African American young adults?

children at playConnections had a two-pronged purpose: (1) to explore various health issues that are relevant for rural African American adults after they have left the high school environment, and (2) to test a sampling strategy, Respondent Driven Sampling, that has been used with other difficult-to-reach populations. Data were collected from about 300 young adults between the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008. Participants completed a 90-minute questionnaire on a laptop computer and were later asked to refer up to three other people for participation. This study was used to inform a larger-scale study of African American Men’s Health (see AMP).



Program for Strong African American Marriage (ProSAAM)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agencies: John Templeton Foundation and Administration for Children and Families
Year Project Began: 2005-2008

Is ProSAAM, a program designed to strengthen African Americans’ marriages, effective?

happy coupleProSAAM is a 3-year intervention study designed to find the best ways for African American couples to keep their relationships strong and to reach the goals they have set for themselves. It was also designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the program’s educational curriculum, which is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). The 500 couples who participated in ProSAAM were randomly assigned to a skills-based intervention group, an intercessory prayer plus skills-based intervention group, or a control group. The first group received the traditional PREP curriculum; the second group also received the PREP curriculum and were asked to pray for their partners; and the third group received a book.. As of July 2008, data analyses were underway to determine the program’s effectiveness.


Promoting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF1)

Principal Investigator: Steven Beach
Funding Agencies: Administration for Children and Families
Project Period: 2006-2011

Is ProSAAF, a program designed to strengthen both marriages and parenting skills among African American couples, effective?

father with kids fishingGrowing together as a couple is one of the greatest blessings and challenges in life. Although children are also a blessing, disagreements about parenting can be some of the most difficult for couples to resolve. ProSAAF is a 5-year research program designed to discover ways in which African American couples can strengthen their relationships and build on those strengths to enhance their parenting skills. This program will include 460 African American couples, 230 of whom will participate in the ProSAAF educational program. The six weekly sessions focus on relationship and parenting enrichment, with facilitators visiting and reviewing materials with participating couples. The other 230 couples will review written materials on their own without facilitator input. Data will be gathered from all participants to assess the benefits that participation affords.


Healthy Families Georgia Program Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Gene Brody
Funding Agencies: Governor’s Office for Children and Families
Year Project Began: 1999-2010

Is the Healthy Families Georgia home visiting program effective in promoting positive parenting and preventing child abuse?

smiling boyHealthy Families Georgia (HFG) is part of the national Healthy Families America initiative. This home visitation program is designed to help new parents adjust to their new role and learn how to provide safe, nurturing contexts for their children’s growth. As part of a collaborative effort among the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (hyperlink to, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (hyperlink to, and communities throughout Georgia, HFG has been serving the needs of first-time parents at risk since 1993.

The Governor’s Office for Children and Families contracted with CFR to conduct an ongoing evaluation of HFG. Outcome data have been collected since July 2000. The Healthy Families Georgia Information System (HFGIS) was developed by CFR staff and implemented in August 2003. Through this web-based database, both process and outcome data can be entered at the site level and stored in a central location at UGA. In addition to their ongoing management of HFGIS, CFR staff aggregate process and outcome data from the system to report periodically on statewide trends and provide an in-depth program evaluation focusing on the overall effectiveness of HFG.

In 2010, the Governor’s Office of Children and Families was funded to implement the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting project. Healthy Families Georgia programs continued in multiple communities as a result of this effort and the evaluation was folded into the larger evaluation of this program.