Why We Changed Our Name

Internet Solutions for Kids, Inc. (ISK) is pleased to announce our new name: Center for Innovative Public Health Research (CiPHR).

The Center for Innovative Public Health Research (formerly Internet Solutions for Kids) has been quietly growing into one of the most innovative and progressive technology-focused organizations in the technology and public health space. Focusing on social media, texting, Internet use, and online games, we are helping change the way we understand how youth and young adults use media, and the ways we use media to reach young people and promote healthy behaviors.

CiPHR imageDr. Michele Ybarra founded then-ISK in 2003. “I always knew I wanted to try to improve people’s lives,” says Dr. Ybarra from her office in San Clemente, California. After earning her BA in psychology and philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University, Ybarra spent time as a Project Manager for a start-up, the Center for Healthcare Information, and then later as Marketing Manager at a health services organization providing care at nursing facilities, For Health. “But was I making a difference? I felt like I needed to be doing more. So, I went back to school and got my Masters and PhD in Public Health from John Hopkins,” Dr. Ybarra explains. “At the School of Public Health, I was surrounded by amazing people doing amazing work for youth. My mentors, Drs. Philip Leaf and Cheryl Alexander, had infectious passion. I wanted ‘in’.” Working with Dr. David Finkelhor and his colleagues to analyze data from their groundbreaking Youth Internet Safety Survey, Ybarra was one of the first to publish on the mental health issues related to Internet harassment.

“My public health training fueled my passion for the Internet as a health promotion tool,” Ybarra says. Enter Joe Schwab, Ybarra’s friend since the 8th grade. With 15 years of experience in Internet Technology, Website design, development and marketing experience, Schwab had the knowledge and the desire to do something “that mattered.” As Interactive Director and Chief Technology Officer, Schwab is the heart of the creative technology side of the business. “I couldn’t do it without him,” Ybarra affirms. “What makes CiPHR unique, I think, is its blend of solid, public health research, and innovative, cutting-edge media expertise.”

We at CiPHR think we are unique in our ‘decoding of how technology influences and can improve public health.’  And, indeed, this seems to embody everything we do:

  • CiPHR was one of the first organizations to conduct a smoking cessation research project in the Middle East. It developed and tested SMS Turkey, a text messaging-based smoking cessation program, in the country’s capital, Ankara. The company is developing a similar program for young adult smokers in the United States.
  • Even before the mainstream media made repeated incidents of online “peer-to-peer aggression” national news, CiPHR created a youth-focused website, http://www.cyberbully411.com/. The Federal Trade Commission has listed the site as a key resource for parents and teens alike.
  • Another recent CiPHR project is www.cesd-r.com, a science-based screener for depression, freely available to the public.
  • CyberSenga, an Internet-based HIV prevention program for adolescents in Uganda, is an example of CiPHR’s leadership in technology innovation in adolescent health research.
  • CiPHR is also leading two national studies of youth: Growing Up with Media, which examines the effects of new media on aggressive and violent behavior, and Identifying Positive Aspects of Youth Internet Use: The Next Step in Prevention, a national online survey focused on identifying positive online experiences that share possible protective influences.

Staying true to its nature, CiPHR continues to grow by bringing on innovative people no matter where they may be. “I don’t see why people have to sacrifice quality of life for a great job. Our team is dedicated to our mission and they work hard with all their heart from all across the U.S.” Ybarra declares.  Case in point: Ybarra is in Southern California while Schwab is trying his hand at life out east in Illinois.  Shaadi Adibsamii-Baylor, CiPHR’s Grant Administrator, also is based in Southern California.  And Tonya Prescott, CiPHR’s Clinical Research Coordinator, harkens from New Hampshire.

When asked about the future, Ybarra and Schwab say they are excited about the way the continual evolution of technology will affect their work. “We’ve always been open to trying new things. Our projects are varied and touch on a lot of different health topics. The uniting thread has always been technology,” Ybarra explains. “As the definition of ‘technology’ continues to change, we will grow to meet the public health opportunities for youth and young adults, while always keeping in mind issues around safety and technology.”