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Category: Spotlight

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Derek Griffith

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Derek Griffith

Dr. Derek Griffith is a Founding Co-Director of the Racial Justice Institute, the Founder and Director of the Center for Men’s Health Equity, a Professor of Health Systems Administration and Oncology, and a Member of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He earned his Ph.D. from DePaul University in 2002 and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in 2004.

Dr. Griffith’s research focuses on strategies to improve African American men’s health, such as precision lifestyle medicine interventions to prevent and control obesity and other chronic diseases. Specifically, he studies the “links between notions of masculinity or manhood and health among men of color; the role of stress and coping processes in men’s health disparities; and how gender intersects with race, ethnicity, SES and other variables to shape men’s physical and mental health behavior and health outcomes.” 

In a current research project, Dr. Griffith is a Co-Investigator with Dr. Robert Newton from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana and Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel on a study to develop and evaluate a smartphone app to increase and maintain physical activity in African American. The app is called FitBrothers and will include personalization, chronic disease health information, dietary information, competition activities, and incentives to promote and sustain physical activity. The study is being funded by a Small Business Technology Transfer grant to Klein Buendel from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (MD014947; Dr. Robert Newton and Dr. David Buller, Multiple Principal Investigators).

Dr. Griffith has received research grants as the Principal Investigator from the American Cancer Society, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and several institutes within the National Institutes of Health. He has authored over 140 peer-reviewed manuscripts and serves on the editorial boards of several public health and men’s health journals.

Dr. Griffith has received multiple distinguished awards and honors throughout his career, including:

  • The Tom Bruce Award from the Community-Based Public Health Caucus of the American Public Health Association in recognition of his research on eliminating health disparities that vary by race, ethnicity and gender;
  • Recognition as a Fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior for his significant contributions to the field of health behavior research; and
  • Designation as one of 1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America by the Cell Mentor’s Community of Scholars. 

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Yelena Wu

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Yelena Wu

Yelena Wu, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah and a Research Investigator at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA and PhD in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Kansas. She is also a licensed pediatric and clinical child psychologist.

Dr. Wu’s research and clinical practice center on promoting better health outcomes for children, adolescents, and young adults who have a history of cancer or who are at risk for developing cancer. A specific area of research interest is the prevention of skin cancer by improving adherence to preventive behavior recommendations among children and adolescents at increased risk for developing skin cancer.

Dr. Wu is currently the Principal Investigator on a 5-year project funded by National Cancer Institute (CA244674) to test a school-based program designed to increase adolescents’ use of sun protection and decrease participation in intentional tanning. Dr. David Buller, director of Research at Klein Buendel, collaborates as a Co-Investigator on the project.

In addition to her research, Dr. Wu provides consultations and therapeutic services to medical teams, patients, and caregivers to facilitate communication and aid in the management of cancer through the Family Cancer Assessment Clinic at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Carolyn Heckman

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Carolyn Heckman

Dr. Carolyn J. Heckman is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. She received a BA in Psychology from Brown University and PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in health psychology and addictions at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also a licensed psychologist.

Dr. Heckman has published more than 100 research papers and presented at many national and international conferences. Much of her work focuses on skin cancer prevention and detection. Her other interests include online interventions and tobacco use and cessation. She has been funded numerous times by the National Cancer Institute and has also received funding from the American Cancer Society and Pfizer, Inc.

In addition to her research, Dr. Heckman is a member of the NIH Community Level Health Promotion study section and she is on the Editorial Board of the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine. She is the Founder/Leader of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey’s Dissemination and Implementation Science Working Group. Dr. Heckman has served on several steering and advisory, grant review, search committee, training, and other committees and community groups. For example, she served as the National Chair of the Don’t Fry Day skin cancer prevention awareness campaign sponsored by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.

Currently, Dr. Heckman is a Co-Investigator on a five-year R01 study called “A Multi-Level Investigation of U.S. Indoor Tanning Policy Enactment, Implementation, Compliance, Impact, and Economics” with Klein Buendel’s Dr. David Buller. The goals of this research project are to complete three specific aims: 1) conduct a comparative case study to elucidate the indoor tanning legislation adoption process; 2) use a pseudo-patron (confederate) assessment, national survey, and archival data to investigate indoor tanning legislation implementation, as well as indoor tanning and sunburn outcomes among adolescents and young adults; and 3) integrate data from the first two aims and external data to assess economic effects relevant to policy sustainability of indoor tanning stringency, enforcement, and compliance.

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Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Susan Loeb

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Susan Loeb

Susan J. Loeb, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, is a Professor in the College of Nursing and the College of Medicine at Penn State University. She earned her nursing degrees at Penn State in 1988, 1992 and 2002. She has also received numerous honors and awards, including being a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing since 2012.

Dr. Loeb’s signature program of research focuses on addressing the health needs of older incarcerated people with chronic conditions, including those in the advanced stages of disease, and extending through their end of life (EOL). Her expertise in multiple methodological approaches is applied to a series of studies including research, development, dissemination, and implementation of a toolkit for training prison staff in strategies to enhance geriatric and EOL care in prisons. This toolkit has more recently been transformed into computer-based training modules, referred to as “Enhancing Care of the Aged and Dying in Prisons.”

She is currently a Multiple Principal Investigator with Dr. Barbara Walkosz, Klein Buendel Senior Scientist, on a study funded by the National Institute on Aging where their team is conducting research and development on a highly interactive and media-rich set of prototype modules based on best practices in peer caregiving in correctional settings. This training is referred to as “Just Care.”

Dr. Loeb and Dr. Walkosz plan to expand their research collaboration into another age-related disease area: Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. They hope to transform best practices in Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias care into media-rich, highly interactive, computer-based educational modules to prepare corrections staff and peer caregivers to meet the growing care needs of people who are incarcerated and living with cognitive decline.

Dr. Loeb’s research has been disseminated through more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous conference presentations. She has served as Principal Investigator or Multiple Principal Investigator on five studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and as Co-Investigator on two additional NIH-funded studies.


Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Anne Ray

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Anne Ray

Anne Ray, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health in the Department of Health, Behavior & Society. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Penn State University in 2004, an M.Ed. in Counselor Education from Penn State in 2010, and a Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State in 2011.

Dr. Ray’s areas of research interest include etiology and prevention of substance use in adolescence and emerging adulthood; self-regulated drinking behaviors and their associations with alcohol use and consequences; gender differences in alcohol use behaviors; mechanisms of change and moderators of program efficacy; and event-specific measurement of health behaviors.

Klein Buendel and Dr. Ray are currently collaborating on two intervention-based research projects. The first intervention is called Parenting Now. It aims to provide an efficient, engaging, and effective means to enhance parents’ ability to reduce prevalence of substance use and its consequences through a digital curriculum for parents of high-school-aged adolescents. Parenting Now is a brief, interactive, self-paced, and digital curriculum for parents of high-school-aged adolescents created from the evidence-based Parent Handbook, available in hard copy and DVD for college-bound youth only. The curriculum is needed because most parent-based prevention interventions target children or young adolescents, neglecting older adolescents, despite that fact that alcohol use increases in frequency and risk through mid-adolescence. This research project is led by Dr. Michael Hecht from Real Prevention and is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health (AA025293).

The second intervention is a new research project designed to curb drinking and risky sexual behavior by first-year college students. The new study will assess the impact of a brief, personalized intervention utilizing an innovative, cross-tailored, dynamic feedback component. The intervention will purposefully integrate content on the relationship between alcohol use and risky sexual behavior. It will leverage technology to incorporate daily assessments of student behavior and deliver weekly dynamic feedback to help reduce risky behavior. This research project is led by Dr. Ray and is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health (AA028246)

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Abby King

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Abby King

Abby C. King, Ph.D., is a Professor of Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology) and a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her past research has focused on investigating the development, evaluation, and translation of public health interventions to reduce chronic disease in the U.S. and globally. Her current research focuses on expanding the reach and generalizability of evidence-based interventions through the use of state-of-the-art communication technologies, community-based participatory research perspectives, and policy-level approaches to health promotion.

Presently, Dr. King is a Co-Investigator on the SBIR Phase II research project with Dr. Valerie Myers from Klein Buendel called “¡Caminemos Juntas!”. The project proposes to connect Latinas with one another in order to improve walking habits by increasing social support and decreasing perceived barriers through the use of a smartphone app. It is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (MD009652; Dr. Valerie Myers, Principal Investigator).

In addition to her research, Dr. King has served on a number of government task forces in the U.S. and abroad, including membership in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Scientific Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020, and the Science Board of the U.S. President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. She has also taken part in various types of community and international work, including Active For Life, Citizen Science to Promote Sustained Physical Activity in Low-Income Communities, Preventing Obesity Among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Women and Children in Melbourne, Australia; and Computer-based Physical Activity Advice for Ethnic Minority Aging Adults in San Jose. Dr. King has received many distinguished awards and honors throughout her career.

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Aida Midgett and Dr. Diana Doumas

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Aida Midgett and Dr. Diana Doumas

Dr. Aida Midgett and Dr. Diana Doumas, both from Boise State University, currently collaborate with KB Senior Scientist, Dr. Valerie Myers, on the STAC-T Project. STAC-T is a technology-delivered adaptation of a bullying intervention program for schools – STAC – that teaches students to act as “defenders” on behalf of targets of bullying. STAC stands for four bullying intervention strategies: “Stealing the Show,” “Turning it Over,” “Accompanying Others,” and “Coaching Compassion.”

Dr. Aida Midgett is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Counselor Education. She obtained her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology/Counseling Psychology and her masters degree in Community Counseling from Northern Arizona University. Her professional background includes behavioral health and school-based research, training counselor education students, and evaluating service-learning projects related to multicultural training. Dr. Midgett is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has worked as a clinician in university, agency, and in-patient mental health hospital settings. Currently, her research focuses on evaluating the bystander bullying intervention program in K-12 settings.


Dr. Diana Doumas is a Distinguished Professor and Director for the Institute for the Study of Behavioral Health and Addiction. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Psychologist in Idaho. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, the Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, and Research Society on Alcoholism. Her experience includes both individual and couples counseling for clients with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and interpersonal concerns. She specializes in empirically-based interventions and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Her research interests include substance abuse prevention and intervention, with a focus on harm reduction and online interventions for high-risk college and high school students.

The STAC-T project is funded by a small business (STTR) grant to Klein Buendel from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (MD014943; Dr. Aida Midgett, Principal Investigator).

Spotlight:
Dr. Christie Rizzo

Spotlight:
Dr. Christie Rizzo

Christie J. Rizzo, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Applied Psychology at Northeastern University, and maintains an appointment as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. Dr. Rizzo is leading a collaboration with Klein Buendel to create a Spanish version of Project STRONG, a web-based dating violence prevention program for parents and middle school boys. The interactive, technolyg-delivered curriculum is grounded in Developmental Assets Theory which asserts that family support, knowledge, values development, and social skills are necessary for healthy development and offset the emergence of risky behavior. Project Strong is funded by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD097126; Dr. Christie Rizzo, Principal Investigator).

Dr. Rizzo received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California. Much of her research focuses on the development and implementation of evidence-based, violence and risk behavior prevention programming for youth, including technology-based initiatives. She particularly focuses on vulnerable youth, such as those involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Dr. Rizzo was previously the Assistant Director of the Juvenile Mental Health Clinic at the Rhode Island Family Court. She now directs the Adolescent Relationships and Risk Behavior Lab at Northeastern University.

Along with Project STRONG, Dr. Rizzo’s current research projects include: 1) Dating Violence Prevention for Juvenile Justice Girls, and 2) Dating Violence Perpetration among Juvenile Justice Youth: The Role of Social, Behavioral, and Ecological Processes.

Collaborator Spotlight:
Barbara McCrady, PhD

Collaborator Spotlight:
Barbara McCrady, PhD

Barbara McCrady, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico, a licensed psychologist, a specialist in the treatment of alcohol abuse, and a long-time research collaborator with Dr. W. Gill Woodall, Senior Scientist at Klein Buendel.

The research project that Dr. McCrady and Dr. Woodall are currently working on together is entitled “Smartphone Help for DWI Offenders and their Families: A B-SMART App.” B-SMART is a smartphone app intervention designed to extend the drunken driving cessation initially provided by an interlock ignition device. It involves participation of a concerned family member of DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders by providing coping skills, communication skills, and strategies to help avoid a subsequent DWI. This study is unique because it involves a family member in supporting the DWI offender to not drink and drive, and the use of smartphone technology to make family support immediate, accessible, and diffusible. Dr. McCrady developed the content for the intervention based on empirically validated couples therapy techniques for those with alcohol use disorders.

In her research, Dr. McCrady has focused on conjoint therapy, approaches that involve the social network, cognitive behavioral therapy, mutual help groups, and therapies for women. In her words: “As a clinical scientist, the overall goal of my work is to conduct research to test innovative treatments and treatment delivery systems for persons affected substance use disorders, and to better understand the mechanisms by which these treatments work. An ultimate goal is to improve clinical practice through the use of empirically supported assessment and treatment approaches.”

Dr. McCrady has published more than 250 refereed papers, books, book chapters, and commentaries. She has also published four treatment manuals and client workbooks with Elizabeth Epstein (a member of the B-SMART Project Expert Advisory Board) on empirically supported treatments for couple’s therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for alcohol use disorders. She has a second edition of a textbook entitled, Addictions: A Comprehensive Guidebook, published by Oxford University Press.

She is the past Director of the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA) at the University of New Mexico, and is currently the Chair of the Diversity Committee for the Research Society on Alcoholism and the Vice President for the Research Advisory Committee of the Research Society on Alcoholism.

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Alberta Kong

Collaborator Spotlight:
Dr. Alberta Kong

Dr. Alberta Kong has been collaborating with Dr. W. Gill Woodall from Klein Buendel for several years on research to prevent HPV – the Human Papillomavirus – by encouraging vaccination for adolescent girls and boys. They are currently working together on a four-year research project entitled “Web App Technology for Boys and Parents: Improving HPV Vaccine Uptake.” The project, which is funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute to Klein Buendel (CA210125; W.G. Woodall, Principal Investigator), is creating and testing a mobile web app to accurately inform parents and adolescent boys about the HPV vaccination and address unique concerns about its safety and effectiveness for boys.

Dr. Kong specializes in adolescent health and infectious disease prevention. She is an Associate Professor with a primary appointment in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Health Sciences Center. She received her Medical Degree from the University of Arizona. Dr. Kong is one of only two Board Certified Adolescent Medicine Specialists in the state of New Mexico. In addition to practicing medicine, she teaches and mentors medical students, pediatric residents, graduate students, and junior faculty members.

According to her UNM bio, “Dr. Kong’s research interests relate to highly prevalent conditions such as sexually-transmitted infections and obesity that commonly affect adolescents. Her research ranges from observational studies to development and testing of interventions targeting behavior change to improve adolescent health outcomes. Regardless of the research design, she utilizes community engagement approaches to ensure that her research has real world applications that can contribute to clinical care of the population she serves.”

Among other research projects, Dr. Kong is the Principal Investigator on a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (HL118734) investigating the efficacy of motivational interviewing approaches for overweight and obesity prevention and treatment through the use of school-based health centers.