2013 Fellows

David Córdova, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
University of Michigan

IRTI Mentor: Sheana Bull, PhD

David Córdova received his PhD from Michigan State University and graduated a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellow. After completing his National Institutes of Health-funded postdoctoral training at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Professor Córdova joined the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Currently, he holds a NIH-funded visiting professorship at the University of California San Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. His research focuses on adolescent health inequities, particularly as it relates to the prevention of drug abuse and HIV. Most recently, Professor Córdova received a grant from the NIH, to develop and test the feasibility of a mobile-health drug abuse and HIV preventive intervention. He is the recipient of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program.

Selected Publications:
Córdova, D., Heinze, J., Mistry, R., Hsieh, H.F., Stoddard, S., Salas-Wright, C.P., & Zimmerman, M. (in press). The impact of family functioning on substance use and misuse among minority urban adolescents: A growth mixture model. Substance Use and Misuse.

Córdova, D., Ciofu, A., Park, K., Parra-Cardona, J. R., Holtrop, K., & Cervantes, R. (in press). The role of intrapersonal and ecodevelopmental factors in the lives of Latino alternative high school youth. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work.

Huang, S., Córdova, D., Estrada Y, Brincks A, & Prado, G. (in press). Efficacy of a family intervention in reducing illicit drug use among high-risk Hispanic adolescents: An application of the complier average causal effect analysis. Family Process.

Waller, N., Moynihan, L., & Cordova, D. (2014). Preventing substance abuse and HIV among adolescents in a primary care setting. Journal of Substance Abuse and Alcoholism, 2(1), 1006.

Córdova, D., Parra-Cardona, J. R., Blow, A., Johnson, D., Prado, G., & Fitzgerald, H. (2014). “They don’t look at what affects us”: The role of ecodevelopmental factors on alcohol and drug use in Latinos with physical disabilities. Ethnicity & Health, [epub ahead of print].

Córdova, D., Huang, S., Lally, M., Estrada, Y., & Prado, G. (2014). Do parent-adolescent discrepancies in family functioning increase the risk of Hispanic adolescent HIV risk behaviors? Family Process, [epub ahead of print].

Karina Gattamorta, PhD

Research Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies
University of Miami

IRTI Mentor: Hortensia Amaro, PhD

Karina Gattamorta is a Research Associate Professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Miami. She earned her PhD in Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation in 2009 from The School of Education at UM and an EdS in School Psychology in 2005 from Florida International University. In her current role, she teaches courses in introductory and intermediate statistics, measurement, and research methods in both graduate and undergraduate programs. In 2013 she was awarded a Diversity Supplement that allowed her to expand on her interests tackling health disparities among Hispanic adolescents, and in particular, the interconnectedness of family functioning, mental health, and substance abuse. More recently, she began pursuing research interests examining the relationships between family functioning, mental health, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors in Hispanic lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents. Her current research examines the role of families and the coming out experiences of Hispanic sexual minorities. Her research aims to understand and ultimately help reduce health disparities in mental health, substance abuse, and HIV risk among sexual minorities.

Selected Publications:
De Sanits, J. P., Valdes, B., Provencio-Vasquez, E., Patsdaughter, C. A., & Gattamorta, K. A. (2014). A comparison of substance use behaviors of Hispanic mean by sexual orientation. Nursing and Health, 2, 9-17.

Foronda, C., Gattamorta, K., Snowden, K., & Bauman, E., (2013). Use of virtual clinical simulation to improve communication skills of baccalaureate nursing students: a pilot study. Nurse Education Today. [epub ahead of print].

Alice Hernandez Grant

Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Psychology/Neuroscience
University of Texas at El Paso

IRTI Mentor: Jill Becker, PhD

In order to create targeted treatments for specific metabolic disorders involving the brain, it is imperative to understand the organization of the central nervous system and how it responds to blood-borne signals such as glucose and insulin that help maintain normal metabolism. Alice is interested in identifying the specific combinations of neurons and intracellular activation markers that respond selectively to circulating hormones, and mapping their locations onto a reference atlas of the brain to help neuroscientists understand the neural substrates controlling metabolism. In addition to these pursuits, Alice is using the same reference atlas to integrate multi-scale data – from genes and proteins to connections and behavior – onto a common reference map. Within individual maps of the brain, such legacy data can be validated and, in turn, provide insights about more modern datasets collected on brain function.

National Science Foundation (NSF). (2013- 2015). Bridge to the Doctorate Program.

Michaeline Jensen, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Developmental Science
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

IRTI Mentor: Christopher Browning, PhD

Michaeline Jensen is currently an NICHD funded postdoctoral scholar in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Center for Developmental Science.  Michaeline’s research focuses on better understanding the development of adolescent substance use and risk taking behaviors within family, peer, neighborhood, and cultural contexts.  Michaeline is particularly interested in the interplay between individual vulnerabilities (e.g. disinhibition) and aspects of the social-cultural environment.  Her dissertation research examined how sensation seeking risk for adolescent substance use could potentially be moderated by individual executive inhibition, parental controls, and level of neighborhood organization.  Findings highlighted that both relatively advantaged and relatively disadvantaged neighborhoods can facilitate the expression of sensation seeking risk for adolescent substance use initiation.  Michaeline’s research has also included a focus on the role of social processes in preventive intervention, finding that a middle school prevention program tailored for Mexican American youth reduced levels of parent-adolescent conflict, and that these reductions in parent-adolescent conflict mediated program effects on late high school levels of internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, and substance use.

Selected Publications:
Gonzales, N.A., Jensen, M., Montano, Z., & Wynne, H. (in press). The Cultural Adaptation and Mental health of Mexican American Adolescents.  In Y.M. Caldera & E. Lindsey (Eds.), Handbook of Mexican American Children and Families: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Psychology Press.

Jensen, M. , Wong, J., Gonzales, N. A., & Dumka, L. E. (2014). Long-term effects of a universal family intervention: Mediation through parent-child conflict.   Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, [epub ahead of print].

Catalina Lopez-Quintero, MD, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate, Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse
Florida International University

IRTI Mentor: James Anthony, PhD

Catalina Lopez-Quintero is a postdoctoral associate at the Substance Use and HIV Neuropsychology (SUHN) Lab at the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University, one of the and 19 research sites conducting the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. At the SUHN lab her research focuses on studying neurocognitive antecedents and consequences of substance use, HIV and risk behaviors associated with both. As part of her training and research experience in psychiatric epidemiology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI ) – Columbia University (w/ C. Blanco), drug dependence epidemiology at Michigan State University (MSU) (w/ J. Anthony), substance use and HIV/AIDS among Latino populations (w/ M. De La Rosa) she developed diverse projects that aimed to disentangle the role that factors at different levels of influence (e.g. biological, behavioral, socio-cultural, or political) exert on the transitions from the early stages of drug use involvement to the development of drug use disorders and other related outcomes. Her long term career goals are to: 1) Develop a comprehensive and interdisciplinary insight of the mechanisms that explain drug use trajectories across the drug use continuum, by focusing on the complex interactions between neuropsychological and socio-cultural level factors; and 2) Contribute to the design of effective drug use prevention and treatment strategies to reduce drug use disparities.

Selected Publications:
Anthony, J.C., Barondess, D.A., Radovanovic, M., & López-Quintero C. (In Press). “Polydrug Use: Research Topics and Issues”. In Oxford University Press (Ed.), Polydrug Use. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Neumark, Y., López-Quintero, C., Feldman, B.S., Hirsch, A.J., & Shtarkshall, R. (2013). Online health information seeking among Jewish and Arab adolescents in Israel: Results from a national school survey. Journal of Health Communication, 18(9):1097-115.

Oralia Loza, PhD

Associate Professor, Public Health Sciences
University of Texas at El Paso

IRTI Mentor: Cynthia Gomez, PhD

In 2009, I graduated from the University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program, PhD in Public Health, Epidemiology. My dissertation was entitled “Factors Associated with Early Initiation Into Sex Work and Sexually Transmitted Infections among Female Sex Workers in Two Mexico-U.S. Border Cities”. At my present position at The University of Texas at El Paso, I continue to focus my research on understanding and documenting the relationship between substance abuse and risks behaviors for HIV, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among high-risk populations on the U.S.-Mexico border region, including transgender women, injection drug users, migrants, and men who have sex with men, to then develop or adapt appropriate prevention strategies and interventions. I have had the opportunity to mentor graduate students by integrating them in all stages of research process. I strive to conduct meaningful research by collaborating with community partners who work closely with the target populations and an interdisciplinary team of investigators. My participation as an IRTI Fellow June 2013 – June 2014 was an instrumental opportunity to learn from a community of substance abuse researchers, both at junior and senior levels, who acknowledge the unique needs of our Hispanic communities and our great potential to collaborate to bridge science, resources, and services to those who need them most.

Selected Presentations:

Loza, O., Beltran, O.*, Mangadu, T. (2016). A Qualitative Exploratory Study on Gender Identity and the Health Risks and Barriers to Care for Transgender Women Living in a U.S.-Mexico Border City. International Journal of Transgenderism (WPATH Journal). Accepted for publication October 29, 2016, DOI: 10.1080/15532739.2016.1255868.

Durán, R. J., & Loza, O. (2017). Exploring the Two Trigger Fingers Thesis: Racial and Ethnic Differences in Officer Involved Shootings. Contemporary Justice Review, 20(1), 71-94. DOI:10.1080/10282580.2016.1262771

Ovalle, I., Loza, O., Peralta-Torres, D.*, Martinez, J., Hernandez, K., & Mata, H. (2016). Increasing our advocacy capacity through HIV Community Mobilization: Perspectives from emerging and mid-Career Professionals. Health Promotion Practice, 18(1), 11-14. DOI:10.1177/1524839916681733

Welton, M. D., Rodriguez-Lainz, A., Loza, O., Brodine, S., Fraga, M. (2016). Use of lead glazed ceramic-ware and lead-based folk remedies in a rural community of Baja California, Mexico. Global Health Promotion. Published online on June 14, 2016, DOI: 10.1177/1757975916639861.

Loza, O., Castaneda, E. Diedrich, B.* (2016). “Substance Use by Immigrant Generation in a U.S.-Mexico Border City”, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.Published online on March 24, 2016, DOI: 10.1007/s10903-016-0407-1.



Funding Award:
NIDA. Tuition Scholarship Recipient. (June 2014- July 2014). Training Institute, “Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction 2014” University of Amsterdam.

Dr. Rafael E. Perez-Figueroa, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Population and Family Health and Pediatrics
Columbia University

IRTI Mentor: Ronald Stall, PhD

Dr. Rafael E. Perez-Figueroa is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Population and Family Health at Columbia University Medical Center; and Assistant Director of the IFAP Global Health Program. Dr. Perez-Figueroa’s research work focuses on the study of health disparities among vulnerable populations including Latino immigrants and sexual and racial minorities. He studies public health issues related to HIV prevention and care, sexually transmitted infections, and substance use and abuse. He does this by engaging in theoretically driven research studies that seek to disentangle the effects of different social determinants of health on the health outcomes of these populations. He is a fellow on Hispanic drug abuse from National Institute of Drug Abuse and a fellow of the NYU Postdoctoral and Transition Program for Academy Diversity. His research work has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, AIDS Patient Care and STDs, and Prevention Science, among other high-impact journals, and he served on the editorial board of Behavioral Medicine. He holds a MD from the Pontifical “Madre y Maestra” Catholic University in the Dominican Republic and an MPH degree from New York University in Global Health Leadership.

Selected Publications:
Halkitis, P.N., Pérez Figueroa, R.E., Carreiro, T., Kingdon, M., Kupprat, S.A., & Eddy, J. (In press). Psychosocial Burdens Negatively Impact HIV Antiretroviral Adherence in Gay, Bisexual, and other MSM Ages 50 and Older. Aids Care.

Hajizadeh, N., Uhler, L.M., & Pérez-Figueroa, R.E. (In Press). Understanding patients’ and doctors’ attitudes about shared decision making for advance care planning. Health Expectations.

Kapadia, F.K., Halkitis, P.N., Barton, S.C., Siconolfi, D., & Pérez-Figueroa, R.E. (In press). Associations between social support network-characteristics and receipt of emotional and material support among a sample of sexual minority youth. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services.

Halkitis, P.N., Kapadia, F.K., Ompad, D.C., & Pérez-Figueroa, R.E. (In Press). Moving Towards a Holistic Conceptual Framework for Understanding Healthy Aging among Gay MenJournal of Homosexuality.

 Kupprat, S.A., Halkitis, P.N., Pérez-Figueroa, R.E., Solomon, T.M., Ashman, T., Kingdon, M.J., & Levy, M.D. (2013). Age- and education-matched comparison of aging HIV+ men who have sex with men to general population on common neuropsychological assessments. Journal of Health Psychology, [epub ahead of print].

NIDA. R01. (March 2014-February 2019). Syndemic production among emergent adult men. Co-Investigator.

Christopher Salas-Wright, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Boston University

IRTI Mentor: Flavio Marsiglia, PhD

Christopher Salas-Wright is an Assistant Professor in the Boston University School of Social Work and a Research Fellow with the National Hispanic Science Network’s Early Stage Career Mentoring for NIDA Research program. His research interests include: drug abuse and violence prevention; immigration and the role of cultural processes in the development of Latino youth; and the epidemiology of high-risk and antisocial behavior. Since 2010, Dr. Salas-Wright has authored more than 100 scholarly publications that have appeared in journals such as Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Addictive Behaviors, Journal of Substance Use Treatment, and Journal of Adolescent Health. His new first-author book—entitled, “Drug Abuse and Antisocial Behavior: A Biosocial Life Course Approach“—is slated to be published by Palgrave MacMillan in December, 2016. Dr. Salas-Wright serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Research on Social Work Practice, and his research has appeared in numerous television and print sources, including: NBC News, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and USA TODAY.

Selected Publications:
Salas-Wright, C.P., Vaughn, M.G., Maynard, B.R. (in press). Profiles of religiosity and their association with risk behavior among emerging adults in the United States. Emerging Adulthood.

Olate, R., Salas-Wright, C.P., Vaughn, M.G. & Yu, M. (in press). Preventing violence among gang members and high risk youth in El Salvador: The role of self-control and school motivation. Deviant Behavior.

Salas-Wright, C.P., Vaughn, M.G., Maynard, B.R., Clark, T, & Snyder, S. (2014). Public or private religiosity: Which one is protective for adolescent substance use and by what pathways? Youth & Society, [epub ahead of print].

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Mental Health Research Grants. (June 2014-Septmeber 2015). Substance Use Prevention for Student Veterans with Experiencing Psychological Distress. Co-PI.

St. David’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease, Pilot Research Grants. (Janaury 2014-Febuary 2015). Examining Hispanic Adolescent Alcohol Use and Health-Risk Behavior: The Feasibility of a Biobehavioral Approach.

Argentina E. Servin, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Division of Global Public Health
University of California, San Diego

IRTI Mentor: J. Bryan Page, PhD

Argentina E. Servin is a bilingual and bicultural clinician-researcher trained in preventive medicine, infectious disease and clinical epidemiology. Dr. Servin received her Medical Degree and Masters in Public Health from Centro de Estudios Universidad Xochicalco (CEUX), School of Medicine in Tijuana, Mexico. She also received training in HIV and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research has focused on sexual violence, substance abuse and HIV/STI risk among at-risk youth, female sex workers (FSWs), children of FSWs, migrant women and people who inject drugs (PWID) in the U.S. – Mexico border region and Central America. Upon finalizing the Interdisciplinary Research Training Institute (IRTI) she has successfully received independent funding from different institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), the Health Initiative of the Americas and the World Bank. Most recently, she was awarded a K23 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (1K23HD084756-01A1; PI: Servin) and is being appointed as an Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and CEUX in Tijuana, Mexico.

Selected Publications:
Muñoz, F.A., Servin, A.E., Garfein R., Ojeda V., Rangel M.G., Zúñiga, M.L. (2013). Deportation history among HIV-positive Latinos in two U.S.-Mexico border communities. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. [epub ahead of print].

Servin, A.E., Muñoz, F.A., Kozo, J., Zúñiga, M.L. (2014). A qualitative study of Mexican and U.S. health care providers’ perspectives on barriers to HIV care access and utilization among Latinos living with HIV in the U.S – Mexico border region. Culture, Health and Sexuality, [epub ahead of print].

NIDA. (June 2014- May 2015). Diversity Supplement.

Christine E.  Spadola, PhD, MS, LMHC

Researech Fellow, Department of Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

IRTI Mentor: Geoffrey Hunt, PhD

Christine E.  Spadola earned her PhD from the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University in December of 2015. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at FIU, and in January 2017 she will begin a postdoctoral fellow position with Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Spadola’s research interests include health and wellness promotion, mindfulness, and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in physical and mental health, with specific interests in yoga research, appetitive disorders and substance abuse. Christine’s dissertation focused on psychosocial adaptations of young adult, Hispanic/Latino bariatric surgery patients and is entitled “A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Alcohol Use among Racially/Ethnically Diverse Young Adult Bariatric Surgery Patients.”

Dr. Spadola is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has over 13 years of clinical and behavioral research experience working with culturally diverse and at-risk populations. Prior to her doctoral studies, Christine received extensive research experience and was formerly the Project Coordinator for six RO1 grants working with at-risk populations in the areas of drug use, HIV, and health promotion. Most recently, Christine served as a post-doctoral fellow with FIU’s Banyan Research Institute for Dissemination, Grants, and Evaluation (FIU-BRIDGE) and was the Project Coordinator for a quasi-experimental study investigating yoga as a complementary therapy for at-risk youth.

Selected Presentations
Spadola, CE., Messiah, SE., Vidot, D., Dillon, FR., Wagner, EF., Morrehead, M., & De La Cruz-Munoz, N. (October 2013). Post-operative relationship between alcohol use, depression, and anxiety among predominantly Hispanic/Latino young adult bariatric patients. National Hispanic Science Network’s 13th Annual International Conference. Bethesda, MD.

Spadola, CE., Messiah, SE,, Wagner, EF, Dillon, FD, & Trepka, MJ. (October 2013). Alcohol use among weight loss surgery patients: Current knowledge and future directions. National Hispanic Science Network’s 13th Annual International Conference. Bethesda, MD.

Vidot, D., Messiah, SE., Spadola, CE., Cuesta, M., Prado, G., & De La Cruz-Munoz, N. (October 2013). Post-operative prevalence of marijuana use and food dependence among Hispanic/Latino young adult bariatric surgery patients. National Hispanic Science Network’s 13th Annual International Conference. Bethesda, MD.

Mabel Terminel

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Neuroscience nad Experimental Therapeutics 
Texas A&M University 

IRTI Mentor: Carlos Bolaños-Guzman, Ph.D.

Mabel Terminel is a Ph.D. student in the Social, Cognitive Neuroscience program at the Texas A&M University. Her main research interest is in neurobiological changes that occur in drug addiction and Parkinson’s disease. She is intrigued by the similarity in dopamine activity taking place in both cases that suggests there might be common mechanisms increasing dopamine activity – these findings might accelerate interventions for multiple disease states. Moreover, she has specific interests in changes that take place in basic functions of the brain during neurogenesis and that contribute to development of hard-wired circuits (neural plasticity), and how these mechanisms might contribute to behavioral compensation in neurodegenerative disorders or drug addiction. Studies about plasticity during development or recovery from brain damage or learning mechanisms suggest a seemingly infinite number of factors that contribute to underlying neural substrates. Neuroplasticity of dopamine systems for movement, reinforcement, and learning and memory can be applied to substance abuse disorder. Repeated exposure to stimulant drugs produces sensitization, characterized by greater dopamine release and stronger behavioral responses. Other studies have also shown the same increase in dopamine release in sensitized animals in response to conditioned environmental cues even in the absence of the drug. There is a lack of understanding for the presynaptic mechanisms that lead to behavioral sensitization. Therefore, she is interested in studying presynaptic mechanisms that modulate increases in dopamine release, which is believed to be responsible for the relentless craving in drug addiction. In her graduate research she seeks to explore mechanisms of exocytosis that likely modulate release as a conditional response to drug-associated discriminant cues.

Selected Presentations
Spadola, CE., Messiah, SE., Vidot, D., Dillon, FR., Wagner, EF., Morrehead, M., & De La Cruz-Munoz, N. (October 2013). Post-operative relationship between alcohol use, depression, and anxiety among predominantly Hispanic/Latino young adult bariatric patients. National Hispanic Science Network’s 13th Annual International Conference. Bethesda, MD.

Spadola, CE., Messiah, SE,, Wagner, EF, Dillon, FD, & Trepka, MJ. (October 2013). Alcohol use among weight loss surgery patients: Current knowledge and future directions. National Hispanic Science Network’s 13th Annual International Conference. Bethesda, MD.

Vidot, D., Messiah, SE., Spadola, CE., Cuesta, M., Prado, G., & De La Cruz-Munoz, N. (October 2013). Post-operative prevalence of marijuana use and food dependence among Hispanic/Latino young adult bariatric surgery patients. National Hispanic Science Network’s 13th Annual International Conference. Bethesda, MD.