Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Institute for Public Health and Medicine

Center for Behavior and Health

Smartphone app     ENGAGED software application with Shimmer accelerometer    


Health Behaviors (obesity, tobacco use, poor quality diet, physical inactivity, risky substance use, unsafe sex, poor sun protection behaviors) are prevalent and preventable risk factors for chronic disease.  Treatment non-adherence is an additional risk behavior that impedes recovery and complicates health outcomes.  Investigators affiliated with the Center for Behavior and Health pursue three main research goals.  Goal 1 is to understand determinants that cause the onset and maintenance of health risk behaviors.  Goal 2 is to understand biobehavioral mechanisms whereby unhealthy behaviors "get under the skin" to affect health. Goal 3  is to develop, optimize, and evaluate interventions that promote healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Interventions developed and implemented by the Center have four signatures.  They: (1) incorporate novel technologies (e.g. smartphone, sensors, internet) to overcome access barriers and reduce costs; (2) engage social networks and systems; (3) apply optimization techniques drawn from engineering to develop and refine treatments; (4) integrate human interventionists (e.g. peer, health educator, psychologist, exercise physiologist, nutritionist).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced awards for 11 Big Data (BD2K) Centers of Excellence on Oct. 9, 2014. We’re proud to be part of a team of researchers from 11 universities (Cornell Tech, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Rice, UCLA, UCSD, UCSF, UMass) and Open mHealth that has been awarded a grant for an NIH Center of Excellence on Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K). You can find more details on our research agenda and the team on the MD2K website.

For information on developing a technology-assisted intervention, please contact Angela Pfammatter, PhDFor a look at our research, visit the Spring Lab at the Department of Preventive Medicine and

Bonnie Spring, PhD, was interviewed on the Connector Podcast Series: "Bridging Disciplines Toward Better Behavior Change Interventions."

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680 N Lake Shore Drive, Suite 1400
Chicago, IL 60611

Center Director
Bonnie J Spring, PhD

Bonnie Spring

Center Administrator
Elizabeth Pugh

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Founded: 2012