Rachel Ballard

Rachel Ballard

Director of Prevention Research Coordination

Dr. Ballard leads the Collaborative Prevention Initiatives team within the ODP to advance collaborative research initiatives in disease prevention. Her team supports the coordination and facilitation of these collaborative prevention initiatives across the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and public/private partnerships, and oversees the ODP co-funding efforts. 

Prior to joining the ODP, Dr. Ballard led the Applied Research Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI)—a program that focused on advancing evidence on the influence of cancer care and control activities in the United States. She first joined the NIH as an intramural fellow in 1987. In 1990–91, she served as the nutrition policy advisor in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the HHS, where she worked on the 1990 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and provided input on efforts related to nutrition labeling and coordination of trans-agency nutrition activities. While at the NIH, she has also led national and international research initiatives to evaluate the performance of cancer screening in clinical practice; directed the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle (HEAL) Study of Breast Cancer Prognosis, a multiethnic cohort of breast cancer survivors designed to examine the effect of physical activity, diet, and weight on cancer biomarkers and outcomes; and led an NCI effort to advance research on the combined effects of diet, physical activity, and weight on cancer and overall health outcomes.

Dr. Ballard has contributed to national and international reviews and guidelines on diet, physical activity, and obesity control. She serves on the Senior Leadership Group for the NIH Obesity Research Task Force and was involved in providing input to the HBO documentary, Weight of the Nation, recognized by an NIH Director’s Award and an HHS Innovates award. Dr. Ballard is the NIH co-chair of the National Collaboration on Childhood Obesity Research—recognized by the first HHS Innovates award for successful private/public partnerships. She has published widely on physical activity, diet, and weight control, and on screening and quality of care in cancer.

Dr. Ballard served as a senior editor for the first National Nutrition Research Roadmap released in 2016 and currently serves as an NIH co-Executive Secretary for the newly launched review of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, to be released in 2018.