Skip to content

Main Navigation

consortium banner

Introduction | Research Foci | Available Positions | Future Positions | Activities | People | Affiliated Faculty 
| Become a Member |


This consortium was formed in Spring 2014, after a core group of interdisciplinary faculty received a competitive grant to develop a 'transformative cluster hire' that builds on the existing strengths of current University of Utah faculty and expands the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration among scholars conducting cutting-edge research related to health and families across the lifespan.

The consortium involves an interdisciplinary group of scholars that seeks to understand how the family system can be utilized to improve the health and health care of individuals across the life span (children, adolescents, adults of all ages). Researchers are developing state-of-the-art models and methods from life-span development to inform how families can facilitate health promoting behaviors and adjust to a variety of chronic illnesses. The Consortium seeks to identify strategies whereby the family system can operate effectively as a vehicle for promoting health and adjusting to chronic illnesses across time and how such strategies may vary across developmental life stages.

Currently, the consortium brings together faculty from 11 departments across 5 colleges, the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the Utah Population Database. The consortium also connects scholars in the Primary Children's and Families' Research Center in the Huntsman Cancer Institute, the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine, the Utah Population Database, the College of Health's Rehabilitation and Wellness Clinic for individuals with multiple chronic conditions, and the Child and Family Development Center in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies.

Research Foci

Currently consortium members are examining the following research topics:

  • Within the Utah Population Database researchers are examining the family risks associated with a range of chronic illnesses (most especially cancer, atrial fibrillation, Crohn's disease, macular degeneration, hypertension, Miller's syndrome, diabetes) and that family members share their risk information with multiple family members, including children.
  • Researchers are examining normative family processes that may lead to the development of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease as well as those studying families in the context of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, and chronic pain. Findings have revealed ways that couples and parent-child units support as well as derail management chronic illness behaviors.
  • Researchers are examining diversity in family structures that may affect the health of families such as diversity related to income inequality, cultural differences, and same-sex families.
  • Researchers study how successful interventions for the promotion of health and management of chronic illnesses (e.g., physical exercise, obesity prevention) can incorporate the powerful influence of the family in sustaining effective health behaviors.

Available Positions

Currently searching for faculty positions to begin July 2015:

Quantitative Methods in the Study of Families and Health

Preferred emphases include statistical modeling of longitudinal data structures related to familial, life span, historical, or dyadic processes. Candidates must also have substantive research interests in health-related family processes. Examples include familial/genetic predisposition to health problems, the interaction of familial and environmental factors affecting health outcomes, or social, psychological, public policy, or economic mechanisms affecting health that modify and are modified by family structure. All candidates should have an established track record of extramural funding. Scholars with a focus on health disparities and families from diverse and underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

All scholars fitting this description, regardless of their current discipline, are welcome to apply. However, the particular department for the hire (location of tenure and teaching responsibilities) will likely be Economics, Family & Consumer Studies, Health Promotion and Education, Psychology, or Sociology. For inquiries about this position please contact search committee co-chairs Dr. Jonathan Butner ( or Dr. Ken Smith (

Applications should be submitted at under posting PRN00897F.

Family-Based Intervention and Evaluation

We seek scholars who design and evaluate behavioral interventions (e.g., social marketing, clinical trials, personalized medicine) in light of family influences. Interventions may be aimed at preventing, diagnosing, treating, and/or managing disease, and evaluations can examine individual, family, and community effects. The ideal candidate will have expertise in the study of family relationships, including the influence of families on the effectiveness of health interventions. All candidates should have an established track record of extramural funding. Scholars with a focus on health disparities and families from diverse and underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

All scholars fitting this description, regardless of their current discipline, are welcome to apply. However, the particular department for the hire (location of tenure and teaching responsibilities) will likely be Family and Preventive Medicine, Family and Consumer Studies, Health Promotion and Education, Psychology, or Sociology. For inquiries about this position please contact search committee co-chairs Dr. Robin Marcus ( or Dr. Rebecca Utz (

Applications should be submitted at under posting PRN00898F.

Future Positions

To be filled in 2015-2016

Social Networks and Health

A scholar is sought in the area of social networks and health. Of particular interest are candidates who have expertise in collecting such data and modeling social network processes within the family and friend network. Topics of special interest include the formation, diversity, and contagion in the context of the development or maintenance of physical health problems, and the diffusion and adoption of health-related information and behavior within and outside of family systems. This position would fill key gaps in understanding how health information is transmitted across families (e.g., if your sister undergoes breast cancer screening are you more likely to do so as well?) and friend networks as well as across diseases (does a diagnosis of a chronic disease such as high blood pressure spark preventative health screenings for other diseases?). The extensive medical records in the UPDB are ripe for this type of cutting-edge network research and have yet to be conducted as this group is missing expertise in this area. Further, social network analysis can be utilized to understand how family-based interventions spread to other family members (e.g., exercise) as well as friend networks.

Dissemination and Implementation Scientist

There is an enormous gap between what we know about strategies to promote health and what is currently delivered in practice and community settings. Scientists have successfully developed and tested a variety of clinical and community interventions that promote healthy behaviors and chronic disease management across the life-span, yet implementation has been challenging. This position will serve an essential role in Dissemination and Implementation. The individual providing expertise in dissemination and implementation science to the Life Span Health team will assist with the development of methods, systems, infrastructures, and strategies to disseminate and implement research-tested health behavior change interventions, prevention and diagnostic strategies, patient engagement and education strategies, treatment, symptom management, and life style modification interventions into public health and clinical practice settings. Specifically, the individual will possess skills related to dissemination of evidence-based strategies (e.g, patient and provider education and training, use of health information technology and electronic resources, development of decision aides for providers and patients, etc.), and skills related to implementation science (e.g., identifying, understanding, and overcoming barriers to the adoption, adaptation, integration, scale-up, monitoring, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions, tools, policies, and guidelines). Understanding of the complexities of health care systems and diverse patient groups with chronic health conditions will be critical.

Family Diversity and Culture

While human experiences of illness are universal, they are profoundly shaped by cultural and historical contexts. Anthropological and diversity research can increase our understanding of health-related beliefs and behaviors and their embeddedness in family and community contexts. Therefore, we seek to hire a scholar devoted to family diversity and culture with a track record and active research program on topics that include, but are not limited to, the social determinates of health and disease, including poverty, social inequality, race and class; cultural and biological diversity in sickness, health and healing; cultural diversity in family practices related to the management of health and illness; analyses of political-economic causes of health inequalities; applied research to improve health research and services in a globalizing world; the ways in which developments in science and technology are altering the delivery of medical care around the world, global health and the cultural and historical conditions shaping medical practices and policies. Special efforts will be made to examine family diversity and culture in the context of Utah including seeking a scholar examining such diversity with respect to the Native American Culture, refugee experience, and rural communities.

Filled Position: Communicating Complex Information

Kim Kaphingst accepts position in Department of Communications to fill position in Communicating Complex Information. Dr. Kaphingst is coming from Washington University School of Medicine where she has studied optimal ways of communicating genetic risk information to individuals across the life span and how families communicate complex health information across generations.

A major barrier to comprehension, implementation, and adherence in health research is the effective communication of complex information to target audiences. Accordingly, a senior scholar with established research programs focused on communicating challenging material that is developmentally appropriate and can occur within a family context is needed. These issues are paramount in a number of disciplines including (but not limited to) communication, psychology, family and preventive medicine, sociology, public health, and anthropology. Candidates will have innovative, message-focused research that investigates the efficacy of different communication strategies and a track record of working across disciplinary lines. An ideal applicant will have a background in inter-generational family research, health/risk communication, or a related topic that intersects with one or more of these issues.


Monthly brown bags where faculty and students can share research ideas, explore collaborative research proposals, etc.


Cynthia A. Berg, Co-Director
Rebecca Utz, Co-Director

Executive Committee

Cynthia Berg, Department of Psychology
Jonathan Butner, Department of Psychology
Heather Canary, Department of Communication
Julie Fritz, Department of Physical Therapy
Kenneth Smith, Department of Family and Consumer Studies
Joseph Stanford, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
Rebecca Utz, Department of Sociology
Djin Lai, College of Nursing (graduate student representative)


Affiliated Members

Click here for the list of affiliated members and their biographies

Affiliated Member Biosketches

You can view C-FAHR affiliated member biosketches here

Become a Member

How to Become a Member:

C-FAHR welcomes researchers across the University of Utah who desire to collaborate on research projects concerning families and health across the lifespan. Potential members may be tenure-line faculty, clinical researchers, career-line faculty, and graduate students whose research interests align with C-FAHR's purpose and scope.

To become a member of C-FAHR, please submit an NIH-style biosketch (see below for samples) including a Statement of Interest to the C-FAHR Executive Committee at

The Statement of Interest should not exceed 250 words and should:

    • articulate how your research interests align with C-FAHR's purpose
    • explain how you would benefit from membership
    • describe how your membership would benefit the Consortium.

Sample Biosketches:

Membership requests will be reviewed and decided on by the C-FAHR Executive Committee at regular intervals. Membership status will be reviewed every three years to ensure the member's participation in C-FAHR and their academic interests warrant continued membership.

Benefits to Members: 

  • Interact in an environment that will support and foster interdisciplinary research on families and health
  • Eligibility for the Consortium-sponsored research grants
  • Participation in Consortium-sponsored conferences and symposia

Expectations of Members: 

  • Actively support and participate in Consortium-sponsored research seminars and an annual research symposium
  • Engage in discussion regarding the creation of new, collaborative research programs
Last Updated: 1/28/22