PolicyLab researchers developed research and led initiatives to confront the most pressing issues facing families.


Fostering Innovation & Exploration Through a Joint Pilot Grant Program

We are committed to ensuring our talented researchers have the support they need to conduct high-impact research that benefits all youth. Through one-year PolicyLab-funded pilot grants, researchers throughout the institution have the opportunity to answer cutting-edge child health questions, develop or inform ongoing clinical programs, or influence practice and policy for children and families in our community.

In 2020, PolicyLab funded a pilot grant project led by Joanne Wood, MD, MSHP, Clinical Research Coordinator Devon Kratchman and their team, “Making Time for Time Out: Evaluating a Discipline Education Module for Caregivers of Young Children.” This project builds on the success of PriCARE, a parenting intervention developed at CHOP that teaches caregivers techniques to support the social and emotional growth of their children. The pilot grant enables Dr. Wood and her team to assess a new, four-session Positive Discipline Module with parents. The team hopes to strengthen the evidence on what type of parenting content is most effective in classes delivered in pediatric primary care settings.

Since PolicyLab and CHOP’s Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness launched this joint program in fall of 2019, the centers have funded a total of 13 innovative projects.

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The pilot grant program reinforces PolicyLab’s goal to support the next generation of child health researchers. Our intentional emphasis on policy-relevant and equity-focused studies aims to drive the creation of innovative lines of research that actionably respond to pressing child, family and community issues.

Headshot of Dr. Meredith Matone

Meredith Matone, DrPH, MHS

Scientific Director

A Long-standing Impact on Pediatric Research

PolicyLab researchers Ariel Williamson, PhD, DBSM, Alex Fiks, MD, MSCE, and Olivia Cicalese, MS, alongside other co-authors, received the 2020 Diane J. Willis Award for Outstanding Article in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology for their article, “Early Childhood Sleep Intervention in Urban Primary Care: Caregiver and Clinician Perspectives.” The award recognizes an article as “having the potential for enduring impact on the field of pediatric psychology.”

Read the Article
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Toddler Sitting on Mom's Lap

Student to Researcher: Emma Blackson

PolicyLab has been fortunate to work with many talented students over the years who provide invaluable support to our research teams while also building diverse skill sets. For former students like Emma Blackson, MPH, MS, this experience can often lead to a career in research. Emma joined PolicyLab as a student intern working closely with Clinical Research Project Manager Tanisha Belton, MPH, CHES, and former faculty member Dr. Tiffani Johnson who ensured she learned the ins and outs of research, like how to do literature reviews and patient recruitment, and the importance of analysis and disseminating one's work. Most importantly to Emma, they taught her how to ask the right questions.

Today, as a full-time clinical research assistant at PolicyLab, Emma is part of Dr. Marsha Gerdes’ team working on a project to examine and promote racial equity within early child care settings, collecting best practices, assisting with data analysis and coordinating dissemination efforts. In the last year alone, Emma wrote her first, first-author manuscript titled, "Racial Bias Towards Children in the Early Childhood Education Setting," and was accepted to present her team’s project data at the 2021 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

Emma credits her experience at PolicyLab as a key influence on her next step. In fall 2021, her journey as a talented young researcher will continue as she pursues a PhD in Social, Behavioral and Population Sciences at Tulane University.

Headshot of Emma Blackson
“PolicyLab has very much influenced my career decisions moving forward. It was here that I was able to uncover my calling as a researcher, and for that, I am forever grateful!”

Promoting Learning & Growth With Our Morning Speaker Series

Each week, PolicyLab hosts our “Morning Speaker Series,” featuring internal and external experts who discuss their research and ongoing projects on a variety of topics including public health, policy, social work, research methods, and population health, providing us with an opportunity to learn from our colleagues and partners. This type of continual growth is foundational to PolicyLab’s mission and facilitates collaboration in our community and beyond.

This year included a terrific lineup of speakers, with several sessions focused on research. Our “Innovative Research Series” features guests conducting ground-breaking, unique research, including Sherick Hughes, PhD, MPA, MA, professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s School of Education, who discussed how researchers and physicians can utilize equity-literate caregiving to decrease the influence of racial disparities on caregiving and the risks of COVID-19. And during our “Young Researcher Spotlight,” which showcases projects led by early-career researchers at PolicyLab, Mary Kate Kelly, MPH, and Diana Worsley, MPH, shared their research on promoting awareness around HPV vaccinations and examining experiences of children hospitalized for suicidal ideation/attempt and their families, respectively.

Dr. Sherick Hughes and Video Conference Presentation Slide that Reads Addressing Racial Disparities in the Caregiving Profession PolicyLab Researchers Mary Kate Kelly and Diana Worsley Presenting Their Research Via Video Conference
Dr. Sherick Hughes (top), Mary Kate Kelly and Diana Worsley (bottom) present their research as part of the Morning Speaker Series.

Local Data to Support Pennsylvania Communities

In October, PolicyLab supported the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning with the release of the 2020 Pennsylvania Family Support Needs Assessment. The report provides a comprehensive look at maternal-child health and social and environmental factors effecting children and families across each of the state’s 67 counties. Data offered in this report can be instrumental as state and local leaders make family support program funding decisions to address community needs. Learn more in this short video and explore the full report below.

Read the Report