Zoellner, Jamie, Ph.D., R.D.

Dr. Jamie Zoellner is a Professor and Registered Dietitian in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia where she provides leadership for the Community-Based Health Equity Research Program.  She also serves as the Co-Program Lead for the Cancer Prevention and Population Health (CPH) program for UVA’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and is leading efforts to expand the research and outreach mission across Virginia and beyond. Her research includes engaging medically underserved areas in community-based participatory research (CBPR) and discovering solutions to the causes and consequences of limited health literacy.  She focuses on lifestyle risk factors (i.e., diet and physical activity) that have direct relevance to obesity and cancer prevention efforts.  She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and serves on the journal’s Board of Editors, the Research Committee, and STATS Committee.

Dr. Zoellner has several funded research projects including those targeting sugar-sweetened beverage behaviors among rural Appalachian residents, childhood obesity treatment, colorectal cancer screening, and building capacity for rural cancer control in southwest Virginia.  Collectively, her research involves developing the capacity of health and community systems in rural regions to adopt and sustain evidence-based programs.

  • Ph.D., Colorado State University, Food Science & Human Nutrition;
  • M.S., The Chicago Medical School, Nutrition;
  • B.S., University of Missouri, Columbia, Food Science & Human Nutrition/Medical Dietetics


Department of Public Health Sciences
P.O. Box 800717
Charlottesville, VA 22908-0717

Cancer Center without Walls at the UVA Cancer Center
16 East Main Street
Christiansburg, VA 24073

Tel: 434-962-4488
Email: jz9q@virginia.edu

  Obesity and related behaviors; Cancer prevention and early detection; Community-based participatory research; Health literacy; Health equity and disparities

Research Interests: Lifestyle interventions targeting obesity-related behaviors; Effectiveness trials targeting medically under severed areas; Dissemination and implementation research; Translational research; Rural health

Current Extramural Funding:

R01 National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities. “iSIPsmarter: An RCT to evaluate the efficacy, reach, and engagement of a technology-based behavioral and health literacy intervention to reduce sugary beverages among rural Appalachian adults,” 04/20/20-12/30/24.

  • Overall goal: The proposed RCT is guided by the RE-AIM framework and targets 244 adults from rural Appalachia. The overall goal is to examine the efficacy of iSIPsmarter in improving sugary beverage intake using a 2 group design [iSIPsmarter vs. static Patient Education website]. Secondary and tertiary aims are to: a) assess changes in secondary outcomes (e.g. overall dietary quality, weight, quality of life) and maintenance of outcomes at 6- and 18-months post intervention, b) examine reach and representativeness, c) explore patterns of user engagement, d) determine costs, and e) apply a systems-level, participatory process to understand context for future organizational-level adoption of iSIPsmarter.


R01 National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities. “Kids SIPsmartER: A multi-level behavioral and health literacy intervention to reduce sugar-sweetened beverages among Appalachian middle-school students,” 5/02/2018–12/31/2022.

  • Overall Goal: To determine the effectiveness of Kids SIPsmartER in improving sugar-sweetened beverages behaviors among 7th grade students. Secondary aims are to determine (1) changes in secondary student outcomes (e.g. quality of life, BMI z-score, theory-related variables, health and media literacy), (2) changes in caregiver SSB behaviors and home environment, (3) maintenance of outcomes at 19-months post-baseline, (4) assess the reach and representativeness of Kids SIPsmartER, among students and caregivers, and (5) implementation, adoption, and maintenance among teachers and schools.


R56 National Institutes of Health/ National Institute of Nursing Research. “A novel sugar-sweetened beverage reduction intervention for Native American men,” 09/01/20-8/31/22.

  • The overall goal is to the examine the preliminary efficacy of SIPsmartER Lacrosse in a 2 group (SIPsmartER Lacrosse vs. alternative treatment control) by 3 assessment (Baseline, 6-month, 18-month) design. Aims include: (1) Create an evidence-based culturally appropriate SSB intervention for NA men that integrates their unique historical context in adapting SIPsmartER to SIPsmartER Lacrosse, and (2) Implement and determine the initial efficacy of SIPsmartER Lacrosse to reduce SSB consumption.


PCORI Eugene Washington Engagement Contract. “Cancer Center without Walls: Advancing Patient-Centered Research for Cancer Control in Rural VA,” 09/01/18-08/31/20.

  • Overall Goal: To (1) build and strengthen the research capacity among members of two Community Action Teams, focused on Cancer Prevention and Early Detection, through relevant PCOR skill-based trainings, (2) Identify actionable, cancer PCOR priorities based on existing local data and stakeholder/patient input, and (3) Advance the community capacity of Community Action Teams to conceptualize, plan, mobilize resources, and execute cancer control PCOR projects in their communities.


Integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV). “Building Capacity to Implement and Evaluate Effectiveness of Interventions to Improve Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Screening in a Community Health Center,” 7/15/19-1/31/20.

  • Overall Goal: The proposed collaboration builds capacity in Community Health Center of New River Valley (CHCNRV) and University of Virginia (UVA) to develop sustainable cancer prevention and detection programs in the New River Valley, tests a scalable and low-cost CRC screening intervention, and offers pilot data for future studies.


Recently Completed Extramural Funding:

Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). “A randomized-controlled trial to compare the reach, effectiveness and maintenance of two family-based childhood obesity treatment programs in a medically underserved region,” 06/01/2017-08/31/20.

  • Overall Goal: To determine the relative effectiveness in child BMI z-scores at 3, 6, and 12-months post baseline of iChoose+ versus Family Connections. Secondary aims are to determine (1) ongoing reach, fidelity, and implementation costs, (2) community capacity for implementation and sustainability, (3) relative impact on family eating/physical activity and parental weight, and (4) relative adherence and potential dose response relationships.


P30 National Institutes of Health/ National Cancer Institute. “Building research capacity to improve colorectal cancer screening in rural Southwest Virginia Clinics,” 10/01/18-09/30/19.

  • Overall Goal: To build capacity within Stone Mountain Health Services (SMHS)[ an 11-clinic Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that serves rural patients in the UVA’s Cancer Center rural catchment area] to better understand barriers and plan research aimed at implementing evidence-based strategies to increase colorectal screening.


R21 National Institutes of Health/ National Cancer Institute. “SIPsmartER Southwest Virginia: A systems-based approach to disseminate and implement an effective sugar-sweetened beverage reduction intervention,” 04/01/16-09/30/18.

  • Overall Goal: To develop, establish feasibility, and determine the potential utility of an implementation strategy for SIPsmartER, which will reflect system-level needs and resources specific to SIPsmartER, as well as build general capacity related to organizational health literacy.


Link to publications:


Selected recent publications: 

  • Zoellner J, Porter K, You W, Reid A, Frederick C, Hilgart M, Brock D, Tate D, Ritterband L. Study protocol for iSIPsmarter: A randomized-controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy, reach, and engagement of a technology-based behavioral intervention to reduce sugary beverages among rural Appalachian adults. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 110, 2021.
  • Zoellner J, Porter, Brock D, Mitchell, E, Chapman H, Clarkston D, Cohn W, Hauser L, Morris D, Ramey S, Robinson B, Schriefer S, Voges N Wiseman K. Advancing engagement and capacity for rural cancer control: A mixed-methods case study of a Community-Academic Advisory Board in the Appalachia region of southwest Virginia. Research Involvement and Engagement, 7(44), 2021.
  • Zoellner J, Porter K, Thatcher E, Kennedy E, Werth JL, Grossman B, Roatsey T, Hamilton H, Anderson R, Cohn W. A multi-level approach to understand the context and potential solutions for low colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates in rural Appalachia clinics. Journal of Rural Health, 37(3):585-601, 2021. DOI: 10.1111/jrh.12522
  • Zoellner J, Porter JK, You W, Estabrooks PA, Perzynski K, Ray P, Cantrell E. The reach and effectiveness of SIPsmartER when implemented by rural public health departments: A pilot dissemination and implementation trial to reduce sugary beverages. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 23(3):554-563, 2020.
  • Yuhas M, Porter KJ, Hedrick V, Zoellner J. Using a Socioecological Approach to Identify Factors Associated with Adolescent Sugar Sweetened Beverage Intake. Journal of Academy of Nutrition in Dietetics, 120(9):1557-1567, 2020.
  • Zoellner J, You W, Hill J, Brock D, Yuhas M, Alexander R, Price B, Estabrooks P A comparative effectiveness trial of two family-based childhood obesity treatment programs in a medically underserved region: Rationale, design & methods. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 84, 105801, 2019.
  • Zoellner J, Porter K, You W, Chow P, Ritterband L, Yuhas M, Loyd A, Brittany McCormick B, Brock Kids SIPsmartER, a cluster randomized controlled trial and multi-level intervention to improve sugar-sweetened beverages behaviors among Appalachian middle-school students: Rationale, design & methods. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 83:64-80, 2019.
  • Brock D, Estabrooks P, Hill J, Barlow M, Alexander R, Brito F, Price B, Jones C, Marshall R, Zoellner J.  Building and Sustaining Community Capacity for addressing Childhood Obesity: A 3-Year Mixed-Methods Case Study of a Community-Academic Advisory Board. Family and Community Health, 42(1):62-79, 2019.
  • Zoellner J, You W, Estabrooks P, Chen Y, Davy B, Porter K, Hedrick V, Bailey A, Kružliaková N. Supporting maintenance of sugar-sweetened beverage reduction using automated versus live telephone support: findings from a randomized control trial.  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 15:97, 2018.
  • Zoellner J, Hill J, You W, Brock D, Frisard M, Alexander R, Silva F, Price B, Marshall R, Estabrooks P. The influence of parental health literacy status on reach, retention, attendance and outcomes in a family-based childhood obesity program, Virginia, 2013-2015. Preventing Chronic Disease, 15(160421), 2017.
  • Zoellner J, Porter K. “Translational Research: Concepts and Methods in Dissemination and Implementation Research,” book chapter in Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease, Coultson AM, Boushey CJ editors. 4th edition. 2017.
  • Zoellner J, Harris J. Mixed Methods Research in Nutrition and Dietetics. Journal of Academy of Nutrition in Dietetics, 117(5):683-697, 2017.
  • Zoellner J, Porter K, Chen Y, Hedrick V, You W, Tyhurst M, Estabrooks P. Predicting Sugar-Sweetened Behaviors with Theory of Planned Behavior Constructs: Outcome and Process Results from the SIPsmartER Behavioral Intervention. Psychology and Health, 6:1-20, 2017.
  • Zoellner J, Hedrick V, You W, Chen Y, Porter K, Davy B, Bailey A, Lane H, Alexander R, Estabrooks P. Effects of a behavioral and health literacy intervention to reduce sugar-sweetened beverages: a randomized trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 13(38), 2016.
  • Zoellner J, You W, Almeida F, Allen KCA*, Harden S, Glasgow RE, Linnan L, Hill J, Estabrooks P. The influence of health literacy on reach, retention, and success in a worksite weight loss program.  American Journal of Health Promotion, 30(4):279-82, 2016.
  • Lane H, Porter K, Estabrooks P, Zoellner J. A systematic review to assess sugar-sweetened beverage interventions across the socioecological model. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(8): 1295-1307, 2016. (Featured as a continuing education article).