The Vermont Center on Behavior and Health (VCBH) was established in 2013, sponsored in part by a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Award, from the National Institute on General Medical Sciences. Other sources of federal funding include an Institutional Training Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and individual research and training awards from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Mental Health.
The VCBH resides within the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, with the director and administrative offices being located within the Department of Psychiatry, and participating investigators, collaborators, and advisors across 15 academic departments in the College of Medicine and 7 colleges within the University of Vermont and 5 other universities. The VCBH is further strengthened by interdisciplinary collaborations with key community healthcare leaders and distinguished scientific advisory panels.
The focus of the Center is on investigating relationships between personal behaviors and risk for chronic disease and premature death, with a specific focus on understanding mechanisms underpinning risk, and developing effective interventions and policies to promote healthy behavior. A common thread across VCBH research projects is the application of knowledge from the disciplines of behavioral economics and behavioral pharmacology to (a) increase understanding of vulnerability to unhealthy behavior and (b) the use of incentives and other behavioral and pharmacological interventions to support healthy behavior change interventions and policies. The contribution of socioeconomic factors to vulnerability and the need for interventions and policies to promote health and reduce disparities in disadvantaged populations is an overarching VCBH focus. To our knowledge, the VCBH is the only NIH-funded center that is applying the disciplines of behavioral economics and behavioral pharmacology to tackling these enormous, interrelated U.S. public health challenges.