CHIBE - Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics

CHIBE Annual Report2022-2023

Group of CHIBE people at a retreat picnic
Decorative diamond pattern
Headshot of Dr. Kevin Volpp

Letter from Kevin

In a recent meeting, one of our board members was talking about the old days of TV where television shows catapulted actors into movie stars [think George Clooney in ER], and she said CHIBE acted in a similar way—it makes stars. We serve as a talent incubator and support the incredible intellect, passion, and curiosity of our investigators. Over the years, we have cultivated and supported the development of many impactful programs that collectively have made the University of Pennsylvania a special place for work at the interface of behavioral science, medicine, and public health.

If you aren’t familiar with CHIBE, we use principles of economics and psychology to help improve people’s health here in the United States and globally. In this year’s report, you’ll learn about the discoveries our researchers made in a variety of areas. For example, this year our faculty and staff found that cash transfer programs in low- and middle-income countries are associated with a 20% reduced risk of death in adult women and an 8% reduced risk in children younger than 5 years old. They also developed interventions to increase the rate of serious illness conversations 4-fold among patients with cancer, found ways to steer people away from consuming sugary beverages, made headway in lowering patients’ blood pressure and cholesterol, and much more.

One of our associate directors, Dr. Jalpa Doshi, achieved what many researchers dream of—having their research translated into practice for widescale impact on health. Her work, which over the past 15 years highlighted the adverse effect of patient cost-sharing on medication adherence and outcomes, is now instantiated in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 through two important provisions that protect Medicare beneficiaries from high drug costs: 1.) a $2,000 out-of-pocket cap in Part D and other drug benefit charges; and 2.) a provision that allows for smoothing of out-of-pocket drug costs so that high costs early in the year don’t result in prescription abandonment, delays in treatment initiation, or treatment interruptions. These provisions will help millions of Americans afford their prescriptions each year.

In other news, I recently had the honor of being selected to be the scientific leader of a major new research initiative on “Food is Medicine” for the American Heart Association and Rockefeller Foundation. While we know what constitutes a healthy diet, most Americans have relatively unhealthy diets and developing cost-effective interventions to systematically improve this will be both a substantial challenge and opportunity for behavioral science to positively impact health.

This year, we are also excited to announce that we have a new CHIBE website and a new logo. Please check out the new site at, and let us know what you think.

We sincerely thank you for your continued support, interest, and contributions.

Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD
Director, CHIBE
Mark V. Pauly President's Distinguished Professor
Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School University of Pennsylvania

Our Vision:A healthier and more equitable world powered by behavioral economics.

Our Four Pillars of Research

  • Healthy Behaviors
  • Health Care Delivery
  • Digital Health & Wearables
  • Health Policy & Financing
  • Group of runners exercising on the beach

    Healthy Behaviors

    Our investigators conduct research to understand the behavioral factors that influence food choice, medication adherence, physical activity, and smoking cessation, among other behaviors.
  • Doctor wearing latex gloves cleans wound on arm

    Health Care Delivery

    CHIBE explores innovative behavioral economic solutions to improve health outcomes while reducing costs through the transformation of health care delivery.
  • Person looks at an Apple Watch to track heart rate

    Digital Health & Wearables

    Our team applies principles of behavioral economics to connected health through interventions that leverage CHIBE’s Way to Health software platform, as well as wearable fitness trackers and apps.
  • Healthcare billing statement on desk

    Health Policy & Financing

    Our researchers examine the impact of policy initiatives and shifts in health incentives on patient, clinician, and health system outcomes through a mixture of observational studies and experimental work.
Explore Our Research

The Year in Review


Our faculty affiliates from various universities—primarily the University of Pennsylvania but also Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins—and disciplines, including medicine, law, business, nursing, communication, and computer science.

By the Numbers


Total Award for Fiscal Year 2023 Active Projects


CHIBE-authored publications in 2022


Media mentions of our faculty


H-index for CHIBE-authored articles


affiliated faculty


years since CHIBE's founding


Healthy Nudge subscribers


X/Twitter followers

Top Tweets from @PennCHIBE

  • CHIBE spoke with Dr. @CassSunstein about i-frame, s-frame, and the use of behavioral economics in the government space. Read our Q&A.

  • Check out @phillymag's coverage of @Eugenia_South's work showing that investments in the environment can lower gun violence in the surrounding Philly blocks by as much as 29%.

  • A program nudging emergency department clinicians to identify and treat opioid use disorder was found to double the assessment for opioid withdrawal and increase initiation of evidence-based treatment. @PennMedicine

CHIBE's Most Read Blog Posts

More from the CHIBE Blog


Learn about some of our important discoveries this year, ranging from what may help decrease mortality, to how to improve end-of-life care, how to nudge healthier food choices, and even how to find more meaning in life.

Research and Publications

  • Cash Transfers

    If you want to improve mortality in low- and middle-income countries…consider cash transfer programs. One CHIBE study found in examining data from 37 countries that cash transfers were associated with a reduced risk of death in adult women and children younger than 5 years old.

  • End-of-Life Care

    If you want to increase serious illness conversations…one paper found that nudges to oncology clinicians combined with machine learning mortality predictions quadrupled the rates of conversations between patients and their clinicians about patients’ end-of-life care preferences.

  • Visualizing Sugar

    If you want to steer people away from sugary drinks…one paper found that displaying images of the amount of added sugar in cubes, teaspoons, or packets plus health-related warning text may deter people from choosing sugar-sweetened beverages.

  • Statin Prescribing

    If you want to increase statin prescribing during primary care visits…one study found that electronic health record–based nudges to clinicians significantly increased initiation of a statin prescription during visits.

  • Safe Driving

    If you want to deter unsafe driving…one paper offered evidence that state handheld phone bans could improve traffic safety.

  • Portion Sizes

    If you want to control portion sizes in restaurants…consider changing how portions are described on menus; in an online simulated menu-ordering study, researchers found options like “standard/large,” or “just right/large” nudged people to select lower-calorie, smaller portions without restricting their choice.

  • Systemic Problems

    If you want to solve some of society’s most pressing problems…one CHIBE faculty member argued in a paper that behavioral scientists have focused too much effort on changing individual behavior — the i-frame —and should instead address systemic or structural issues — the s-frame.

  • Meaning of Life

    If you want to increase meaning in your life…consider seeing your life story as a “Hero’s Journey.” One study found that prompting people to see the events of their life in terms of quests, challenges, transformation, and legacy, etc, can increase meaning in life by reflecting on important moments in their life and developing them into a narrative.

News & Media

What behavioral science project did you work on this year?

  • “We examined how state-level adoption of continuous eligibility policies for Medicaid among children affected Medicaid participation.”

    Atheendar Venkataramani, MD, PhD, MPhil
  • “We, at Penn Behavior Change for Good, studied racial differences in response to text messages encouraging vaccination.”

    Lyle Ungar, PhD
  • “In our systematic review of 38 articles, most rigorous studies found that financial incentives positively influence COVID vaccine uptake.”

    Jessica Fishman, PhD
  • “We conducted a pilot study of a visual and tactile tool to correct mental models about HIV pathogenesis, transmission, and treatment among people living with HIV who are clients of medical case managers in Philadelphia.”

    Aaron Richterman, MD, MPH
  • “We launched a randomized controlled trial using financial incentives to reduce men’s engagement in HIV risk behaviors in Kenya.”

    Teniola Egbe, MPH, MBE
  • “We started enrolling patients in a randomized trial of unconditional cash transfers to improve the health of patients with low income.”

    Laura Gibson, PhD
  • "We helped a large insurer consider options for implementing the next phases of a value-based payment system with a focus on primary care delivery through modeling of the potential impacts of each path forward."

    Maura Boughter-Dornfeld, MPH
  • “In a randomized control trial at an S&P 500 company, I showed successfully how to leverage peer influences with behavioral economics to raise health engagement.”

    Iwan Barankay, PhD
  • “We conducted a randomized study to evaluate the effect of peer comparison nudges on increased engagement in hypertension management among primary care physicians.”

    Jingsan Zhu, MS, MBA
  • “I’m excited to be working with a great team of researchers, clinicians, patients and innovation experts on Penn Medicine Healthy Heart, a comprehensive heart disease prevention program that is grounded in behavioral economics insights and uses a centralized, leveraged team of patient navigators and nurse practitioners to help Penn Medicine primary care patients in West and Southwest Philadelphia and in Lancaster, PA lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and reduce overall cardiovascular risk.”

    Laurie Norton, MA, MBE
Collage of people during CHIBE events in 2023

The Year in Impact

Impact Stories

CHIBE’s research makes a real difference. Our faculty helped make prescription medications more affordable for patients in numerous ways this year, and they worked with policymakers and other partners to advocate for more access to and consumption of nutritious food.

Headshot of Jalpa Doshi

Spotlight: Inflation Reduction Act Includes Fix for Issues with Medicare Part D Design First Proposed by CHIBE Team

Professor of Medicine and CHIBE Associate Director Jalpa Doshi, PhD, was instrumental in a change to the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit design under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Outdoor headshot of Amol Navathe sitting

With MedPAC, Dr. Amol Navathe Seeks to Bring Down Prescription Drug Costs

CHIBE Associate Director Amol Navathe, MD, PhD, and the Commission made recommendations to Congress.

Kevin Volpp and Senator Mike Braun pose for a photo

Dr. Kevin Volpp Leads New American Heart Association ‘Food Is Medicine’ Initiative

CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, is leading a new American Heart Association (AHA) “Food is Medicine” initiative.

Outdoor headshot of Dr. Alison Buttenheim

CHIBE’s Influence on NASEM Report on Behavioral Economics and Policy

A committee co-chaired by CHIBE’s Scientific Director and Penn Professor of Nursing and Health Policy Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, crafted a report exploring the influence of behavioral economics on public policy.


CHIBE hosted 24 events this year—many of which were research seminars with the leading minds in behavioral economics, health, and policy. Each year, we also host a team retreat and a symposium to share the latest research and create new connections.

Collage of photos from CHIBE forum and speaker events  in 2023

Signature Programs

Our faculty lead many initiatives ranging from food policy, to global health, health equity, technology infrastructure, and health care payment policy. Learn more about our faculty members’ expertise and research interests below.

Group photo of HACLAb team members

Spotlight: HACLab

CHIBE spoke with Dr. Ravi Parikh and his team for a Q&A about their new lab which implements and scales artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Read the Q&A

Penn Medicine Nudge Unit

Designing and testing approaches to steer medical decision-making and daily health behaviors toward higher value and improved patient outcomes.


Advancing the evidence base on food and nutrition policies to support health.

Way to Health

Blending behavioral science with scalable technology to conduct randomized controlled trials.

Accelerate Health Equity

Addressing health equity and racism and advancing health through a unified approach.

Payment Insights Team

Analyzing policy effects and testing and evaluating interventions that can improve care.

Joint Research Practice

Conducting inclusive and anti-racist research that advances the science and practice of health equity.


Developing behaviorally informed HIV programs in South Africa through a first-of-its kind nudge unit.


Finding innovative solutions to persistent challenges that limit healthy lifespans globally.

Behavior Change for Good

Developing behavior change programs to improve daily decisions about health, education, and savings.


CHIBE salutes the following faculty members for their impressive achievements. These awards showcase CHIBE’s culture of innovation and excellence.

Headshot of Justin Bekelman, MD

Justin Bekelman, MD

Named to National Cancer Policy Forum

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Headshot of M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS

M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS

Paper Selected as Finalist in Top 20 Clinical Research Achievement Awards

Clinical Research Forum

Named a "Generation Change Philly" Fellow

Philadelphia Citizen

Headshot of Carmen Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP

Carmen Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP

Excellence in Equity Award

American Society for Clinical Oncology

Headshot of Emily Largent, JD, PhD, RN

Emily Largent, JD, PhD, RN

Named Hastings Center Fellow

Baruch A. Brody Award and Lecture

Baylor College of Medicine Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, the Houston Methodist Hospital System, and the Rice University Department of Philosophy

Headshot of Kevin Mahoney, MBA

Kevin Mahoney, MBA

Top 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Magazine

Headshot of Katy Milkman, PhD

Katy Milkman, PhD

10 Innovators Shaping the Future of Health

Fortune Magazine

Headshot of Peter Reese, MD, PhD

Peter Reese, MD, PhD

Named Hastings Center Fellow

Distinguished Researcher Award

American Society of Nephrology

Headshot of Christina Roberto, PhD

Christina Roberto, PhD

Thomas A. Wadden Award for Distinguished Mentorship

The Obesity Society

Headshot of Roy Rosin, MBA

Roy Rosin, MBA

30 Great Chief Innovation Officers to Know

Becker’s Hospital Review

Headshot of Eugenia South, MD, MS

Eugenia South, MD, MS

Paper selected in STAT Madness competition for Best Innovation inScience and Medicine

Headshot of Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD

Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD

Distinguished Scientist

American Heart Association

Collage of photos from 2023 CHIBE retreat


About Our Center

CHIBE is the leading scientific organization using behavioral economics to improve health. Drawing on the expertise of faculty from across the University of Pennsylvania and beyond, CHIBE conducts behavioral economics research aimed at reducing the burden of disease from major public health challenges and seeking to advance health equity worldwide.

Our mission is to advance the science of applied behavioral economics in pursuit of knowledge, interventions, and policies that lead to higher-value health care, equal access to health care, and healthier lives for all.

We Work With

Penn Medicine Logo
Independence Blue Cross Logo
American Heart Association Logo
PA Dept of Health Logo
US Dept of Veterans Affairs Logo
Progressive Logo
Indlela Logo

Funding Portfolio

CHIBE receives project-specific funding from foundation, corporate, and federal sponsors. Diversification of our portfolio has been a strategic priority over the past several years, and we have been successful in securing funding from several commercial entities and foundations. In addition, CHIBE receives support from the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Perelman School of Medicine that has enabled us to make strategic investments, strengthen our infrastructure, and support junior faculty and trainees.

We are also grateful to the Otto Haas Charitable Trust, whose gifts allow us to continue strengthening the infrastructure of Way to Health, making it more accessible to junior faculty and trainees by increasing the ease of use and reducing the cost. Generous support from the Otto Haas Charitable Trust has also allowed us to continue to contribute to CHIBE’s permanent endowment fund. In addition, we received a generous gift from an anonymous donor for a Director’s innovation fund for the support of high priority, quick-turnaround initiatives.


Total Grant Activity in Fiscal Year 2023









Group photo of CHIBE team members from Roybal Retreat

Stay Connected

Follow us on X/Twitter @PennCHIBE and on LinkedIn. Sign up for our monthly Healthy Nudge Newsletter, which keeps you up to speed on the latest developments in policy-relevant health behavioral economics research at CHIBE.