Pilot Awardee Seminar 2021 Awardees

Laura Brandt, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Biography: Laura Brandt's professional training unfolded through theoretical and clinical psychology training, a doctoral degree in Applied Medical Science, and postdoctoral training in translational and implementation science. Simultaneously, her research has evolved from observational/descriptive accounts of the psychiatric burden as well as gender-specific aspects of addiction to exploring new and improved intervention approaches and simultaneously developing implementation strategies. Dr. Brandt’s past work in the field of substance use disorders includes, amongst others, a multi-site project comparing factors facilitating opioid use disorder treatment entry and retention, and reasons for treatment refusal between eight European countries. While applying high-quality state-of-the-art quantitative analysis methods is a consistent focus in her work, she also has experience in conducting qualitative studies (e.g., exploring experiences of violence among female problem gamblers). As an international research scholar at the Division of Substance Use Disorders, Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, Dr. Brandt successfully completed a project which studied the implementation of Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution in New York City (supported by the Austrian Science Fund). She is currently supported by a NIDA INVEST/CTN Fellowship and seeks to empirically identify and validate surrogate treatment outcomes for opioid use disorder in a secondary data analysis project.
Project title: “Developing a Model for Evaluating Overdose Prevention Training Performance”; Funded by The Brewster Foundation
Project summary: Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) has become a critical approach to address the evolving opioid overdose epidemic. However, it is largely unknown how well laypeople are able to replicate overdose response steps they learn during these brief, didactic trainings in a high-stakes and stressful overdose situation. This project will break new ground by developing and validating a simulation procedure at a state-of-the-art medical simulation center that models a realistic overdose scenario along with a method of rating the overdose response performance of individuals with opioid use disorder after receiving OEND.  

Kellie Bryant, DNP, WHNP, CHSE Executive Director of Simulation, School of Nursing

Biography: Dr. Bryant is currently the Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs and Simulation and Assistant Professor at Columbia school of nursing’s accredited Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation Center. Dr. Bryant has over 20 years of teaching experience and 10 years of experience as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her career she has become an expert in the field of simulation through her experience with designing simulation centers and implementing simulation programs for two of the top-rated nursing schools in the country. In her current role she oversees the day-to-day operations and implementation of simulation-based education for all the graduate nursing and advance practice nursing students. She is also the medical director of Columbia school of nursing’s Opioid Overdose Prevention program where she provides naloxone training for health profession students at CUIMC. Dr. Bryant is the co-chair Society in Healthcare media and communication committee. She has recently been appointed to the CDC funded Nurse-Led Vaccine Confidence Advisory Committee. Lastly, she is currently on the executive board for the Greater NYC Black Nurses Association.  
Project title: “Empirical Assessment of Drug-Related Wounds Among People Who Use Drugs: Pilot Testing a Standardized Wound Care Assessment and Referral Protocol”
Project summary: The goal of this pilot project is to work with community outreach workers to identify the prevalence of substance use related wounds in the South Bronx and ultimately motivate people who use drugs (PWUD) with severe wounds towards treatment. Community outreach workers will be trained using the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) framework to screen individuals for substance use related wounds: provide basic wound care education; distribute wound care kits and use motivational interviewing strategies to motivate the individual to seek medical treatment. The project will also facilitate referrals to healthcare facilities that can provide compassionate care for PWUD for wound treatment and possibly substance use treatment. 

Jennifer Mootz, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Translational Epidemiology

Biography: Dr. Jennifer Mootz is a licensed psychologist, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University, and Research Scientist at the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene/New York State Psychiatric Institute.  She earned her PhD in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman’s University in 2015. Her NIMH-funded research has focused on reducing the global mental health and substance use treatment gap in low-income and humanitarian settings internationally and in the US through digitized innovations and consideration of social determinants. She has partnered with community and governmental agencies to conduct research on implementation of comprehensive mental health care scale-up of services. Jennifer was honored to receive two awards from the American Psychological Association for her global research on intersections between armed conflict and gender-based violence. She has been identified as one of 35 emerging psychologists across 22 different countries by the International Congress of Psychology.
Project title: “Adapting a digitized screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) intervention to reduce hazardous drinking in diverse young adults in NYC”
Project summary: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has spread rapidly worldwide, and the US and particularly New York City (NYC), have been the hardest hit. Social isolation and increases in numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths have resulted in alarming rates of hazardous drinking (HD). Existing health and mental health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities have been exacerbated, and the pandemic has presented great challenges for HD care. The use of technology to provide remote HD services represents a shift in care delivery that could reduce the unmet HD need among racial/ethnic minority young adults. Despite increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of digitized HD interventions, such evidence is more limited among racial/ethnic minorities. I led the development of a provider-guided, trilingual (English/Spanish/Portuguese) digitized Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to reduce HD. I propose to adapt SBIRT to include monitored, self-guided modules coached through the app to increase HD care delivery and meet the needs of racial/ethnic minority young adults served through Services to Assist Youth (Project STAY), a program that offers sexual health education, risk assessment, screening and linkages to care for young people in community-based settings across NYC. The Specific Aims are: (1) to adapt the provider-guided SBIRT into a combined provider- and self-guided SBIRT (SBIRT Coach) that targets mild/moderate HD (AUDIT score 8-14) in diverse young adults; (2) develop a strategy for integrating SBIRT Coach into community-based services; and (3) to determine acceptability and perceived feasibility of using SBIRT Coach to reduce HD. 

Seth J. Prins, Ph.D., MPH Assistant Professor, Mailman School of Public Health

Biography: Seth J. Prins, PhD MPH, is Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University. Prins studies the collateral consequences of mass criminalization and mass incarceration for public health, and how the division and structure of labor influence population mental health and substance use. He is principal investigator of a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant to study the consequences of the school-to-prison pipeline on adolescent substance use and mental health.
Project title: “Community- and school-level policing, school discipline, and student victimization: Identifying the adolescent health consequences of racialized criminalization and securitization in NYC schools”
Project summary: Adolescents are increasingly being exposed to criminalization and securitization in school. School-based arrests have skyrocketed 300-500% since the 1990s. Out-of-school suspensions, which more than double the risk of subsequent arrest, have doubled over the past 40 years. Over 90,000 New York City students experience airport-style security in schools every day. Over the same period, many schools’ broader communities experienced changes in policing strategies, such as increased use of “order maintenance” or “broken windows” policing. There are strong reasons to believe that these exposures affect adolescent health, particularly substance use and mental illness. However, no epidemiologic research has examined the adolescent health consequences of these phenomena, or the contextual effects of aggressive policing in the neighborhoods in which schools are situated. We will apply longitudinal, multi-level methods to conduct the first pilot analysis of its kind in New York City. We will (1) assemble an unprecedented multi-source, multi-level New York City data set; (2) conduct pilot analyses to determine the relationships among aggressive community policing, school discipline/arrests, and adolescent health; and (3) identify potential drivers of racialized disparities in adolescent health and school discipline/arrests. Study findings will provide critical initial evidence of associations between aggressive policing, school discipline, and severe hospital-based adolescent health outcomes with readily available data. This pilot research will support an R01 proposal to extend and expand this research.

Kara Rudolph, Ph.D., MHS, MPH Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology

Biography: Dr. Rudolph an epidemiologist with research interests in developing and applying causal inference methods to understand social and contextual influences on mental health, substance use, and violence in disadvantaged, urban areas of the United States.
Project title: “Optimizing the generalizability of OUD treatment trials to improve public health”; Funded by The Christopher D. Smithers Foundation
Project summary: Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD)---injection naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone---are the most effective tools for improving outcomes and preventing overdose among persons with OUD, but engagement in MOUD, especially long-term engagement typically required for a successful outcome, is unacceptably low. Long-term engagement rates tend to be even lower in real-world settings. This discrepancy between trial efficacy and real-world effectiveness has been termed the research-to-practice gap. This discrepancy between trial and real-world MOUD effectiveness could be partially attributable to differences between clinical trial versus real-world population characteristics (e.g., in terms of psychiatric and substance use comorbidities, previous treatment experience, immigration status, etc.) if treatment effects are modified (increased/decreased) by some of these characteristics that also relate to trial participation. Moreover, without knowing the relative effectiveness of MOUDs for certain real-world target populations, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers may be tasked with decision-making with biased evidence. Thus, there is a critical need to improve the generalizability of MOUD trials. Failing to meet this need would further ossify the research-to-practice gap, resulting in suboptimal treatment of OUD overall and within key subgroups. In this pilot, we develop an approach to identify and characterize clinically meaningful, interpretable subgroups of persons seeking OUD treatment in US usual-care settings who are not represented or under-represented in MOUD trials based on multiple characteristics simultaneously. This moves us beyond existing approaches for assessing representation that have generally been limited to considering one individual-level characteristic at a time (e.g., race/ethnicity).  We will also estimate the extent to which such under-representation could be biasing estimates when trial results are generalized to populations. The proposed research is expected to make a significant contribution to improving inclusion and representation among trial participants and to understanding how and to whom trial findings generalize.

Brooke West, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

Biography: Dr. Brooke S. West is an Assistant Professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group and is on the steering committee for the Columbia Population Research Center (PRA: HIV and Reproductive Health). As a medical sociologist, Dr. West’s research focuses on the social, economic, physical and policy factors underlying inequities in health among populations placed in positions of marginality, both globally and domestically. Drawing on both social science and public health approaches, her work centers primarily on the social and structural determinants of substance use and HIV/STI, and reproductive health inequities.  
Project title: “From the Outside to the Inside: Connections between Drug- and Race-Related Stigma and Discrimination within Health and Social Service Settings and Inequities in Access to and Engagement in Addiction Care for Pregnant and Postpartum People who Use Opioids in NYC”
Project summary: Opioid use during pregnancy is growing and overdose is one of the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality (MMM). In both addiction and maternal care, inequities in access to and engagement in care for racial and ethnic minorities are systemic and lead to substantial differences in health outcomes. Underlying these inequities is widespread stigma and discrimination by providers and within health and social service systems against pregnant and postpartum people who use opioids. In the proposed study, we will conduct 16 key informant interviews with experts in addiction treatment and MMM and an online survey of 200 pregnant and postpartum people with opioid use disorder (OUD) in NYC to examine patterns of drug-related, and co-occurring race-related, stigma and discrimination in health and social service settings and the association of these patterns with substance use related outcomes as well as addiction and maternal health care access and engagement.