Office of the DESPR Director (OD)

What We Do:

The mission of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research is to improve the nation's public health by promoting integrated approaches to understand and address interactions between individuals and environments that contribute to the continuum of problems related to drug use. We will develop scientific knowledge with clear applications to practice and public policy.

Staff Biographies for the Office of the Director:

  • Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D. - Division Director
    (301) 443-6504
    Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D., M.S. is the Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Blanco is a national known expert in the epidemiology and treatment of addictive disorders. Prior to joining NIDA, Dr. Blanco was Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and a Research Psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He is a graduate of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) and completed his psychiatry residency at Columbia University, where he also completed a research fellowship. Dr. Blanco has authored over 350 peer-reviewed publications.
  • Bethany Griffin Deeds, Ph.D. - Deputy Director
    (301) 443-9982
    Bethany Deeds was previously the Prevention Branch Chief in the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse for 3 years. She was also the Deputy Branch Chief within Epidemiology Branch at NIDA for 6 years where she managed the social epidemiology of drug use portfolio with responsibility for the stimulation of geospatial substance use and abuse research, new methods in drug abuse epidemiology, improved measurements of the social environment, social network/social media research and public health law and policy research related to substance use. She is also a member of the Collaborative Research on Addiction (CRAN) Coordinating Committee and is the Program Official for the landmark Adolescent Behavior Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. Prior to joining NIDA, she has 10 years of prevention experience and was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical School. Before joining NIDA, Dr. Deeds was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical School where her research focused on adolescent violence, substance use and HIV prevention. She also served as Director for Connect to Protect: Baltimore, one of 13 national sites affiliated with the Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions, investigating how community partnerships can reduce adolescent HIV incidence and prevalence by making structural changes to the environment.
  • Jorge Andres Vizcaino-Riveros, MPH - Health Specialist
    (301) 402-1817
    Jorge joined DESPR in 2020 as a Health Specialist. Jorge’s prior work experiences in research at various Boston-area hospitals, in addition to serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, led him to Boston University School of Public Health, where he earned his Master’s with concentrations in epidemiology and monitoring and evaluation. Jorge received a BS in Dietetics from the University of Delaware.
  • Brandin DeChabert - Program Analyst
    (301) 443-6504
    Brandin DeChabert rejoined DESPR in December 2019 as DESPR’s newly created program/management team leader position after 3 years as a Staff Assistant with NCATS. He previously worked as an External Support Assistant in DESPR from 2009 to 2017. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2000 from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Melissa Wan - Program Specialist
    (301) 827-6010
    Ms. Melissa Wan has been with the NIH since 2012, working at multiple ICs. She began at the NIH Fogarty International Center (FIC) in support of the Director’s office. Melissa was also employed at The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) also in support of the Director’s Office, as well as the Division for Research Capacity Building (DRCB). Most recently, with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases (NIAID) in support of the Chief Medical Officer, the Senior Director of Regulatory Science and Strategy Program (RSSP), and the chief of Molecular Immunoengineering Section (MIS). Melissa now works in DESPR Operations Team supporting the HEAL NCREW initiative.
  • Karen Walls - Administrative Technician
    Ms. Karen Walls joined DESPR as an Administrative Technician with the DESPR Operations Team (DOT) in January of 2021. Ms. Walls, a Washington D.C. native, earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management in 2020 from the University of Phoenix. Before joining DESPR, Ms. Walls was employed as a Program Support Assistant in the radiology department at the NIH Clinical Center. Ms. Walls excelled in her Team Lead role by acting as a liaison to multiple departments. Ms. Walls has almost 14 years of experience that includes a variety of administrative and receptionist titles, extensive customer service experience and an innate sense of adapting to an independent or team-oriented environment.