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 InterestProgram Official
Place Based Prevention Research 
– Community SettingsCourte Van Voorhees
– Educational SystemsAngela Lee-Winn, Ph.D., MA
– HealthcareShannon Nicks
– Justice SettingsCourte Van Voorhees
– Social ServicesCourte Van Voorhees
– Digital Delivery/Social Media InterventionsAlexa R. Romberg, Ph.D.
HIV Prevention Among Individuals Who Use SubstancesRichard Jenkins, Ph.D.
Angela Lee-Winn, Ph.D., MA
Tobacco Related Research, Including ENDSAlexa R. Romberg, Ph.D.
Neuroscience/Epidemiology Informed Intervention Development ResearchAlexa R. Romberg, Ph.D.
Prevention Research MethodologyRichard Jenkins, Ph.D.
Research Training 
– T32Amy Goldstein, Ph.D.
– F's & K'sAmy Goldstein, Ph.D.


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.
  • Alexa R. Romberg, Ph.D. – Deputy Branch Chief
    (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.
  • 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.
  • Angela Lee-Winn, Ph.D. – Social Behavioral Scientist Administrator
    (301) 451-7206
    Dr. Angela Lee-Winn joined the Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research in July 2022. Dr. Lee-Winn’s work spans both the Prevention Research Branch and Services Research Branch. In the Prevention Research Branch, her work focus on HIV prevention among people who use drugs, with a special emphasis on women & girls. In the Services Research Branch, her responsibilities include international grants, particularly those focused on HIV research and HIV training grants. She is a prevention scientist and psychiatric epidemiologist by training. Her program areas focus on equitable HIV and substance use prevention and care research with underserved populations, including women and girls who face intersectional stigma and discrimination. Dr. Lee-Winn has interests in dissemination and implementation (D&I) science, including multi-level, systematic adaptation, implementation, and evaluation of sustainable, evidence-based strategies across HIV and substance use cascade of care. Prior to joining NIDA, Dr. Lee-Winn worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Colorado School of Public Health, where she conducted community-engaged, transdisciplinary research on substance use prevention and care with perinatal and underserved populations and enhancing harm reduction efforts in preventing substance use and related infectious diseases. Dr. Lee-Winn completed her postdoctoral training at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she focused on understanding psychosocial and sociocultural factors that contribute to the etiology of mental disorders and substance use and developing and evaluating gender- and culturally-relevant interventions. Dr. Lee-Winn earned her PhD in Public Mental Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and MA in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington, Seattle with BA in Psychology and Communication.
  • Courte Van Voorhees, Ph.D. – Social Behavioral Scientist Administrator
    (301) 496-8101
    Dr. Van Voorhees has been working in the Prevention Research Branch of DESPR since January of 2023, overseeing portfolios in community and justice settings. He also works on cross-cutting themes, focusing on technology/data science, youth engagement, and AI/AN communities. In addition to overseeing grant portfolios, he also works on initiatives to advance prevention infrastructure. Before joining PRB, Courte worked in community settings as an evaluator, researcher, and consultant to nonprofit and governmental entities. He also worked in academic settings, focusing on community research methodology and community organizing. He had faculty positions at Frostburg University, the University of Miami, and Western Kentucky University. He received his PhD in Community Psychology from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 2012. 
  • Shannon Nicks, Ph.D. MPH – Social Behavioral Scientist Administrator
    (301) 443-6504
    Shannon E. Nicks, PhD MPH joined the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA in February 2024. Her program areas focus on prevention research related to the social determinants of health and in healthcare settings. Dr. Nicks came to NIDA from Dayton Children’s Hospital where she served as Associate Director of Health Outcomes Research and conducted community based participatory research to improve patient and family health outcomes, address health disparities, and advance health equity. Previously, Dr. Nicks was at Ohio University in the Department of Social and Public Health where she collaborated with minority and underserved communities to study social determinants of health and access to care as well as to promote health equity in outcomes related to cancer survivorship and rural health. Dr. Nicks earned her PhD and MPH with a concentration in Behavioral Science and Health Education from Saint Louis University in 2016 and 2011, respectively.