Mark E. Feinberg

Research Professor


Mark E. Feinberg

Research Professor

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Mark Feinberg conducts basic and applied prevention research on youth, families, and communities, with a particular focus on family-focused prevention. He has made contributions to theory and research in areas such as:

  • co-parenting;
  • sibling relationships;
  • the epidemiology of adolescent behavior problems;
  • the efficacy of evidence-based community prevention initiatives; and
  • transactions between family and social relationships and biological systems including genetics, cortisol/HPA axis, and cardiovascular disease markers.

His long-standing interest in community health has led him to lead or participate in evaluations of community-level systems designed to promote evidence-based prevention programs and policies including Communities That Care, Evidence2Success, and PROSPER. In the long-term PROSPER randomized trial, he has catalyzed and/or co-led projects on adolescent peer networks, genetics, and second-generation transmission.

Mark edited Designing evidence-based public health and prevention programs: Expert program developers explain the science and art, a unique volume that provides researchers and students with guidance around developing prevention and public health programs. He is currently co-editing a volume showcasing 10 years of work by the PROSPER peer network research group titled Teen Friendship Networks, Development, and Risky Behaviors.

Mark developed the Family Foundations program and co-developed prevention programs focused on reducing adverse birth outcomes, childhood obesity, and sibling conflict—all of which have demonstrated positive impacts in randomized trials.

Family Foundations

Family Foundations is a series of 9 classes for first-time pregnant moms and their partners. It is based on the innovative idea that a key foundation for all family relationships, including the well-being of both children and parents, is the quality of co-parenting relations (i.e., how parents support and coordinate with each other in their parenting role).

Family Foundations has demonstrated positive impacts on a range of outcomes in five trials, including:

  • better birth outcomes
  • reduced postpartum depression
  • reduced postpartum weight retention
  • lower mother and father stress
  • reduced family violence, and
  • better parenting and co-parenting quality.

Infants in these families show better self-regulation, and teachers report that in first grade, the children show fewer emotional and behavioral problems and better school adjustment. Recent work has demonstrated long-term impacts 10 years after birth on parent and child well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. and international collaborators have collaborated with Mark in creating a suite of Family Foundations adaptations for high-risk groups, such as:

  • teen parents,
  • low-income parents,
  • parents with a child diagnosed with Autism, and
  • couples where a parent has a moderate level of alcohol use.

Several other versions are in the pipeline or being tested, including versions to enhance family sleep and reduce obesity risk.

International Coparenting Hub

With support from the Penn State Social Science Research Institute and the College of Health and Human Development, Mark is creating an infrastructure to support researchers around the world interested in examining co-parenting relations and implementing intervention programs. The Hub will also engage in education, policy, and communication to promote recognition of the importance of team parenting for parent and child lifelong mental and physical health—with the goal of catalyzing initiatives in education, social services, health care, and other sectors of society.

Every child deserves a strong, supportive, healthy family!

- Mark E. Feinberg

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