Leadership

Avelardo Valdez, PhD

Principal Investigator

School of Social Work and Sociology, Professor; Director Interdisciplinary Research Training Institute on Hispanic Drug Abuse
University of Southern California

A primary focus of Dr. Valdez’s research has been on the relationship between substance abuse, violence, and health issues among high-risk groups. His research projects have been among “hidden populations” such as youth and prison gang members, injecting and non-injecting heroin users, and sex workers on the U.S./Mexico border. Currently, Dr. Valdez also serves as a Co-Investigator on NIH/NIDA longitudinal study of female Mexican Americans associated with male gang members as adolescents. Dr. Valdez received the NHSN National Award of Excellence in Mentorship for his focus on promoting interest and professional commitment to Hispanic drug abuse research among students and early career faculty.

Alice Cepeda, PhD

Co Investigator

Associate Professor, School of Social Work & Sociology
University of Southern California

Dr. Cepeda’s work has focused on the social epidemiology of drug use and the related health risk behaviors that disproportionately affect urban Mexican-origin minority populations, including violence, HIV/STI infection risks and mental health conditions. Dr. Cepeda’s research has also highlighted the unique gendered experiences encountered by females within this cultural context. She is currently the principal investigator of a NIH/NIDA supported study examining the long-term health consequences of drug use and intimate partner violence on Mexican American females who were associated with male gang members as adolescents.