Prevention Research Branch (PRB)

What We Do:

The Prevention Research Branch (PRB) at NIDA supports research project and research training grants to prevent the initiation of substance use or misuse and the progression to substance use disorder. PRB takes a developmental, lifespan approach, cultivating research on efficacy, effectiveness and prevention services, as well as studies to advance the methodology needed to conduct prevention research. The Branch also supports research focused on prevention of HIV and other infectious disease among high-risk, substance using populations.

Research Priorities:

Of priority for PRB is intervention development and testing that leads to the uptake and sustainability of effective practices and programs. PRB programmatic portfolios are organized around the broader systems within which prevention can occur: education, human services, healthcare, community, and environmental and policy research.  The focus on prevention delivery systems is intended to decrease the research to practice gap, targeting interventions to setting, and identifying stakeholders as active partners during the research process.  Developing and testing an intervention in the setting where it is intended to be delivered should increase the likelihood that the intervention is scalable and that the setting will be able to sustain intervention delivery after the funding period ends. Investigators are strongly encouraged to work with a representative of a given system as a research partner to facilitate implementation and ensure long-term sustainability of their intervention. Also, of priority is prevention intervention research that identifies and targets pathways or mechanisms for preventing substance misuse. Intervention development research supported by PRB should articulate theoretical and conceptual models identifying and justifying the selection of intervention targets, and may occur at any level (universal, selective, indicated, tiered) and across the lifespan.

In addition, PRB has identified three cross-cutting priority themes:

  • Health Disparities
  • Technology
  • Services Research.

Given the prevalence of polysubstance use and the common risk factors that underlie use of a range of substances, each PRB program area encompasses all substances, and investigators are encouraged, where appropriate, to focus on research relevant to more than one substance.

Prospective grant applicants are encouraged to consult with a program officer early in the process of developing an application to determine alignment with the priorities of PRB and DESPR. 

Portfolio Areas of Interest Program Official
Place Based Prevention Research  
– Community Settings Barbara A. Oudekerk, Ph.D.
– Educational Systems Aria Crump, Sc.D.
– Healthcare Sarah Steverman, Ph.D., MSW
– Justice Settings Barbara A. Oudekerk, Ph.D.
– Social Services Barbara A. Oudekerk, Ph.D.
– Environmental Interventions and Policy Research Sarah Steverman, Ph.D., MSW
– Digital Delivery/Social Media Interventions Alexa R. Romberg, Ph.D.
Substance Use Prevention for American Indian/Alaska Native Populations Aria Crump, Sc.D.
Substance Use Prevention Among Individuals With Psychiatric Co-Morbidity Amy Goldstein, Ph.D.
HIV Prevention Among Individuals Who Use Substances Richard Jenkins, Ph.D.
Tobacco Related Research, Including ENDS Alexa R. Romberg, Ph.D.
Neuroscience/Epidemiology Informed Intervention Development Research Alexa R. Romberg, Ph.D.
Prevention Research Methodology Richard Jenkins, Ph.D.
Research Training  
– T32 Amy Goldstein, Ph.D.
– F's & K's Aria Crump, Sc.D.

Staff

Full Staff List and Biographies
  • Amy Goldstein, Ph.D. – Branch Chief
    (301) 827-4124
    Dr. Amy Goldstein joined the Prevention Research Branch in October 2018.  She came to NIDA from the MedStar Health Research Institute, where she was the Scientific Director for Behavioral Health Research. Prior to MedStar, Dr.Goldstein spent a decade at the National Institute of Mental Health as the Chief of the Preventive Intervention Research Program and the NIMH Associate Director for Prevention. During her time at NIMH Amy held leadership roles in several signature projects for the Institute, including the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) Project.  Dr. Goldstein also played key roles in national suicide prevention projects, including the Emergency Department Safety Assessment and Follow Up Evaluation Study (ED-SAFE) and the Emergency Department Screen for Teens At-Risk for Suicide Study (ED-STARS). Dr. Goldstein led the Prevention Research Consortium at NIMH and represented the Institute on several NIH and HHS prevention related committees and workgroups. Dr. Goldstein received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and her MA and PhD in Clinical Child Psychology from Case Western Reserve University. She completed post-doctoral fellowships at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and began her career as a Senior Instructor in Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University.
  • Aria Davis-Crump, Sc.D. – Deputy Branch Chief
    (301) 435-0881
    Dr. Crump joined the Prevention Research Branch in September of 2001. She received a Doctor of Science in Behavioral Sciences from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development where she participated in community- and school-based prevention research. Dr. Crump worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland at College Park, where she instructed students in health communications and minority health and conducted research as a part of a community-university health partnership. Her research interests include family-focused preventive interventions and prevention in racial/ethnic minority populations.  Her current program areas at NIDA focus on the prevention of drug abuse and HIV infection during late adolescence and the transition to adulthood, the prevention of prescription drug misuse, and on community-centered approaches to drug abuse risk-reduction in American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
  • Richard A. Jenkins, Ph.D. – Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 443-1923
    Dr. Jenkins joined the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA in 2006. Previously, he was a behavioral scientist in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at CDC. Rich received his PhD in clinical psychology from Bowling Green State University and completed a postdoc at Indiana University-Bloomington. Prior to coming to NIDA, he was involved in a variety of domestic and international projects related to HIV prevention. These have included preparations for HIV vaccine trials, investigations of the social and behavioral epidemiology of HIV exposure, and the design and evaluation of HIV prevention interventions. Rich has interests in research methodology including non-probability sampling methods, assessment of sensitive behaviors, and the integration of qualitative and quantitative research methods. He also has been involved in research related to the implementation of federally-sponsored community planning mechanisms. Rich's international experience has focused on Asia, primarily Thailand. This has included operational studies associated with early stage HIV vaccine trials, community assessments of HIV risk among men who have sex with men (MSM), and development of the first systematic HIV prevention intervention with MSM.
  • Barbara A. Oudekerk, Ph.D. – Social Behavioral Scientist Administrator
    (301) 827-0641
    Dr. Oudekerk joined the Prevention Research Branch in January 2021. Her current program areas include prevention research in human service and community settings. Dr. Oudekerk also leads the branch’s efforts related to the NIH HEAL Prevention Initiative. She came to NIDA from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Office of Justice Programs, Department of Justice, where she was a social science statistician in the Victimization Statistics Unit. At BJS, Dr. Oudekerk directed the Victim Services Statistical Research Program, which included overseeing the National Census and Survey of Victim Service Providers and coordinating efforts to collect comprehensive national data on help-seeking and access to services among victims of crime or abuse.  She also managed research and produced statistical reports from the National Crime Victimization Survey on topics including juvenile crime and victimization, school crime, hate crimes, subnational crime trends, and repeat victimization. Prior to BJS, Dr. Oudekerk was an American Psychological Association Executive Branch Science Fellow, during which she spent a year working at the National Institute of Justice. She completed her Ph.D. and post-doctoral research training at the University of Virginia with a focus in community and developmental psychology. 
  • Alexa R. Romberg, Ph.D. – Social Behavioral Scientist Administrator
    (301) 435-0264
    Dr. Romberg joined the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA in December 2020.  Her program areas focus on vaping and tobacco-related prevention research and translational neuroscience for prevention. Dr. Romberg came to NIDA from Truth Initiative, where she studied tobacco use attitudes and behaviors among adolescents and young adults and evaluated the truth mass media anti-tobacco campaign. Dr. Romberg was also previously at the University of Maryland, Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology where she conducted research on learning and attention in infancy and adulthood and cognitive interventions. Her research interests include human development and cognition, tobacco and polysubstance use trajectories and prevention. Dr. Romberg earned her bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale University, her PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University.
  • Sarah Steverman, Ph.D., MSW – Social Behavioral Scientist Administrator
    (301) 827-5435
    Dr. Steverman joined the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA in August 2021. Her program areas focus on prevention research in healthcare settings and research on policies and environmental strategies to prevent substance misuse. Dr. Steverman came to NIDA from Abt Associates, where she focused on behavioral health policy, research, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions. Previously, she was a Public Health Analyst at SAMHSA and has led policy efforts at Mental Health America and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Dr. Steverman began her career working in direct service with individuals with co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. She received both her PhD and MSW from Catholic University.