Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Lynn Silver, MD, MPH

Lynn Silver is a senior advisor at PHI for chronic disease and obesity. She works to enhance and strengthen PHI's portfolio of programs in chronic diseases, obesity prevention and global noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), particularly in the policy arena.

In her role as senior advisor on chronic disease she works to 1) prevent the occurrence of noncommunicable disease through promoting policy and environmental changes to create healthier food environments, reduce tobacco and harmful alcohol use, increase physical activity, and reduce harmful use of marijuana products, 2) improve care for key noncommunicable diseases and 3) evaluate of the effectiveness of NCD policies.

Collaborations in 2014-2017 have included:

  • Part of team promoting passage of the Berkeley, California tax on sugar sweetened beverages—the first successful large soda tax in the United States, as well as the team which promoted passage of the Oakland tax in 2016
  • Evaluation of the Berkeley soda tax, in conjunction with University of N. Carolina 
  • Creation of the California Alliance for Prevention Funding—an effort to create a sustainable funding stream for prevention in the State of California
  • Creating the Getting it Right from the Start project to promote more public health oriented regulation and taxation of the newly legalized recreational marijuana market
  • Providing technical support to the REGULA project of the Pan American Health Organization which seeks to strengthen regulatory capacity for NCD risk factors in the Americas
  • Evaluation of the San Francisco warning label on advertising and taxation laws for sugar sweetened beverages with support from NIH/NCI
  • Collaboration with civil society partners in Brazil on advancing food policies for NCD prevention
  • Collaboration with the government of El Salvador on food policy Work with the Coalition for a Healthy Latin America and the NCD Roundtable—the regional NCD Alliances for the US and Latin America
  • Supporting the Global Standardized Hypertension Treatment Project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pan American Health Organization
  • Consultant to the World Bank on taxation of sugar sweetened beverages
  • Health Consultant to the Low income Investment Fund and Federal Reserve of San Francisco for the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge
  • Collaboration with the University of Brasilia on NCD prevention
  • Representation of the Americas on the Advisory Council of the World Health Organization's Kobe Centre for Health Development with a strong focus on urban health equity and on aging (2013-2016)

Previously, Silver served as health officer in Sonoma County, assistant health commissioner in New York City and as a professor of public health in Brazil for 15 years. In New York City's Department of Health, she led the implementation of forward-thinking strategies to promote population health, including eliminating use of artery-hardening trans-fats in food establishments—the first such initiative in the nation—and requiring calorie labeling at fast-food restaurants. 

Silver received her MD and MPH degrees and pediatric training at the Johns Hopkins University.

Advancing and Supporting School Wellness

California Project LEAN is providing leadership and training to a Fresno school district's school wellness council to develop and implement goals that support student health and academic success.

Advancing District School Wellness Policy Efforts

California Project LEAN will work with Community Partners and Thriving Schools Partnership Grantees to advance district school wellness policy efforts by providing two trainings and on-going technical assistance by two trainers for English and Spanish facilitation.

Advancing School Wellness

In partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, California Project LEAN will work with Kerman school district stakeholders to support their Wellness goals.

Advancing School Wellness through Policy

This project will build upon California Project LEAN’s experience and expertise in nutrition and physical activity policies and environmental change practices in the school and community environments.

BEST – Berkeley Evaluation of Soda Tax

This project seeks to evaluate the impact of the nation’s first significant tax on sugary beverages, passed in Berkeley, California in November 2014. The project, a joint effort with the University of North Carolina and PHI's Survey Research Group, is implementing a population based consumption survey as well as store-based research on prices and sales to assess the impact of the tax. The project is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

California Public Health Practice Based Research Network

PHI is home to the California Public Health Practice Based Research Network , which seeks to bring together researchers from public health departments and academia to identify and answer relevant questions about the effectiveness and design of public health systems. Currently funded research includes the DIRECT study: Improving the Reach and Effectiveness of STD Prevention, Screening, and Treatment Services in Local Public Health Systems, which is studying the delivery  of STD services in California and Alabama local health departments, in collaboration with the Alabama PBRN and the University of Alabama.

Getting it Right from the Start: Local Regulation of Recreational Marijuana

State licensing of retail marijuana outlets in California began January 1, 2018. Cities and counties have a window of opportunity to either a) impose a temporary moratorium (even if this may be better phrased as a ban), with the intent of developing their regulatory framework more calmly; b) issue local ordinances to regulate the marijuana market before January; c) ban the sale of marijuana or d) do nothing, in which cases any rules adopted by the state will be in effect.

Getting it Right from the Start was created to develop tools and provide assistance to local jurisdictions and community partners to navigate this window and protect their community against further proliferation of youth use and problem use by instituting appropriate protections against unfettered promotion by the rapidly burgeoning legal marijuana industry.

The project is:

  • Developing a model local ordinance for licensing local marijuana retailers and marketing, using decades of accumulated experience from tobacco and alcohol control.
  • Carrying out research with stakeholders from other states who have legalized, local jurisdictions, academic marijuana, addiction and legal experts, taxation experts, marijuana businesses and community groups to identify best practices based on what we know and don’t know.
  • Developing legal analyses of relevant issues for local licensing, constraints on marketing and local taxation.
  • Developing a listserv, webinars and other technical assistance tools to support communities and exchange experiences and questions.
  • Providing public health oriented input to regulatory processes.

Learn more about the Getting it Right from the Start project.

Healthy Schools for Healthy Kids

This project focuses on South Alameda County school districts with families and schools from low income, minority and immigrant communities would be prioritized. Participants in trainings will benefit by having their personal capacity increased. Children will benefit to the extent that participants are effective in generating change in the school environment or in their family and community setting.

Improving the Reach and Effectiveness of Local Public Health Systems in Preventing, Screening for and Treating Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The Alabama and California DIRECTIVE project seeks to understand which models are in use and how they affect the reach, effectiveness and cost of STD services, to identify ways to increase the value of STD services. The project is examining variation in the differentiation, integration and concentration of STD prevention, screening and treatment services in local public health systems as well as the extent to which these are associated with the quality of STD services and outcomes. 

Kern County School Wellness Training

California Project LEAN will be offering training, technical assistance, and expert consultation in both Spanish and English on policy and environmental change strategies and school-based solutions that will improve opportunities for healthful eating and physical activity.

Lawndale Elementary School District Wellness Training

California Project LEAN will work with Community Partners and Thriving Schools Partnership Grantees to advance district school wellness policy efforts with the Lawndale Elementary School District Wellness Council.

Local School Wellness Policy Implementation and Action Planning Training

California Project LEAN will develop and facilitate a Local School Wellness Policy Implementation and Action Planning 3-hour training for California Center for Public Health Advocacy and partners utilizing its Policy in Action toolkit.

Momentum Continues to Advance School Wellness

California Project LEAN will strengthen school wellness policies related to meals, beverages, and physical activity by providing technical assistance to parents and school districts in Kern County.

South Kern County School District Health Promotion

California Project LEAN will promote health in school environments by building the capacity of school administrators and parents in South Kern County school districts to improve school meals and beverages.

SPARCC Capacity Building

The goal of this project is to build SPARCC capacity and expertise in health and support the development of SPARCC's health vision; support the SPARCC team during the program design phase; and support pre-launch activities.

Sugar Alert: Evaluation of San Francisco's Sugar Sweetened Beverage Advertising Warning Label Law

Sugar Alert is a 4-year study supported by the National Institutes of Health [award pending] and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess the impact of the first-ever sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) warning labeling policy on knowledge and attitudes towards, and consumption of sugary drinks. SSB consumption is a major contributor to the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes in America.

Starting in late 2016, San Francisco will require prominent warning labels on most SSB advertisements: "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” Because San Francisco is the first jurisdiction to apply a warning label to SSBs, the proposed study offers an unprecedented opportunity to document if and how this approach could provide a viable tool for obesity prevention.

Warning labels are a mainstay in evidence-based tobacco and alcohol policymaking. They have proven effective in changing attitudes, knowledge and the consumption of tobacco and to a lesser extent, alcohol, and therefore hold great promise for obesity prevention. San Francisco’s will be the first real-world experiment in applying them to sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs.) Study aims are geared toward providing answers to key questions that policymakers, deliberating over such approaches, are asking: Are warning labels feasible to implement? Are they effective for raising awareness of health risks, changing public attitudes about SSBs, or lowering their consumption?

The study will interview a random sample of residents by telephone, starting in July 2016, to examine how consumers understand and react to warning labels on advertisements. Data from individuals will be kept in strict accordance with protection of confidentiality. The study will compare changes over a three year period from before the law to 2 years after in San Francisco, where the law will be in effect, to San Jose, a control city. A complementary study that documents relevant advertising in both San Francisco and San Jose locations will assess compliance and advertiser responses to the warning label.

Project Principal Investigator is Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, PHI Senior Advisor for Chronic Disease and Obesity Prevention (lsilver@phi.org), accompanied by Senior Investigator Dr. Tom Greenfield, PhD, Scientific Director, PHI's Alcohol Research Group (tgreenfield@arg.org).

Principles for A Public Health and Equity Approach to Cannabis Regulation (2019)

PHI's Getting it Right from the Start project works with California cities and counties, as well as other states, to provide guidance on adopti...

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Concept Paper: The California Alliance for Funding Prevention (2018)

The California Alliance for Funding Prevention was convened in May 2015 by the Public Health Institute and partners to advocate for sustainable fun...

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Model Ordinance Regulating Local Cannabis Retail Sales and Marketing in California (2018)

How much should recreational marijuana be taxed and how should the funds be used? This is a critical and fast-moving question as legalization sprea...

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Jobs, Revenue Rise after Berkeley Soda Tax (2017)

An analysis of City of Berkeley economic data found that a year and a half after passage of the nation’s first large soda tax, food sector sa...

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Berkeley Evaluation of Soda Tax (BEST) Study Preliminary Findings (2015)

Interim results presented November 3, 2015 at the American Public Health Association, from the largest-to-date evaluation of Berkeley, California&r...

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Capacity Building & Training

With diverse public health programs spanning the globe, PHI understands how strong leadership and organizational management can enhance the success...

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Chronic Disease

Chronic, non-communicable diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, obesity, and diabetes—are responsible for close to 75 percent...

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Coalition & Network Building

Building strong coalitions and networks is essential to solving today’s pressing public health issues. The Public Health Institute (PHI) can ...

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Diabetes poses a major health threat and burden to people across the world, and contributes to rising—but often preventable—health care...

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The evaluation of public health programs and policies is essential to improving health outcomes. PHI offers a full suite of evaluation services&mda...

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Heart Disease

Poor diet and physical inactivity are among the leading causes of preventable death in California and play a major role in a host of chronic diseas...

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Law & Policy

The Public Health Institute believes in the power of laws and policies to improve public health outcomes by changing community environments to bett...

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Nutrition & Diet

The Public Health Institute views nutrition and diet as fundamental building blocks to good health. We are committed to reducing obesity and improv...

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Obesity Prevention

The obesity epidemic is a growing threat to our nation's long-term health, with communities of color and low-income populations disproportionat...

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Physical Activity

Physical inactivity contributes to many of the leading causes of preventable death, and plays a major role in a host of chronic diseases and health...

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Population Health

Access to high-quality, affordable health care is critical. Yet health is also heavily determined by factors outside the doctor’s office, fro...

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