- James R. McKay, PhD, Director
- Brenda Curtis, PhD
- Casey Hamilton, BS
- Jason Freeman, BA
- Jessie Hemmons, MS
- April Howard, MA
- Megan Ivey, MS, MLA
- Jamil Lane, BS
- Kevin G. Lynch, PhD
- David W. Oslin, MD
- Sarah Rosenbach, BA
- Max Stern, BA
- Daniel Summers, BS
- Tyrone Thomas, MA
- Deborah Van Horn, PhD
- Alexandra Wimberly, LMSW, MPH
- Regular Collaborators from Other Institutions
Dr. James McKay is a Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Director of the Center on the Continuum of Care in the Addictions and the Director of the Center of Excellence in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education (CESATE) at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. McKay received a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in substance abuse treatment outcome research at Brown University. He is the recipient of numerous NIH research grants, including 7 R01s, a P01 Center, and K02 and K24 awards. Dr. McKay is the author or coauthor of over 150 peer reviewed journal articles, 22 book chapters, and two books. His work has included evaluations of continuing care treatments for alcohol and cocaine use disorders, evaluations of ASAM and other patient placement criteria, development of adaptive interventions for substance use disorders, and the identification of factors that predict relapse following substance abuse treatment. He has been a member of two standing NIH grant review committees and is a fellow of Division 50 of the APA. Dr. McKay’s current research efforts are focused on the development and evaluation of flexible approaches to the management of addiction.
Dr. Brenda Curtis is a Research Associate at the Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania. She received a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Illinois and her Doctoral degree from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Curtis also completed a fellowship at the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute. Her principal research focuses on “big data” generated from social networking sites; technology based interventions that target substance use disorders and related issues; and Internet research ethics. Dr. Curtis is the recipient of a research project grant (R01) awarded from the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN) in which she is using social media data to predict alcohol and other drug relapse and treatment completion among patients who have recently entered community outpatient treatment programs. She is also currently serving as an investigator on several R01 grants funded by NIAAA, NCI, and NIDA including a placebo-controlled trial of bupropion for smoking cessation in pregnant women using SMS text messaging to promote medication adherence and a trial examining the impact of a smart-phone based continuing care “app” for alcohol dependence. Understanding techniques people use to gather information online and how that information is processed has influenced her development of a web-based smoking cessation intervention; an online adolescent screening, brief information, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) program; and an adolescent safer sex and pregnancy prevention intervention CD-ROM. Her research has led her to examine the ethical implications raised by the use of the Internet, social media, and apps to recruit and retain subjects into HIV- and substance use-related studies. Dr. Curtis is regularly invited to lecture on the use of social media in substance use research and has published in the leading addiction journals.
Casey Hamilton is a psychology technician working under Dr. Brenda Curtis. She is predominantly involved with the research study “Predicting AOD Relapse and Treatment Completion from Social Media Use.” Casey holds a Bachelor of Science in Bio-Behavioral Health from the Pennsylvania State University, where she was a distinguished member in the Bio-Behavioral Health Society. As an undergraduate at Penn State University, she was a teaching assistant for Dr. Joshua Smyth in the course Bio-Behavioral Health 101. Casey was a volunteer teacher for the Mid-State Literacy Council located in State College, PA, where she taught English as a second language to new citizens of the United States. Casey also worked as the assistant editor for the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, where she reviewed and edited scientific journals to be published in the monthly issue. Casey has worked in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pennsylvania for various periods from 2008 to 2015. Her future plans entail attending graduate school to become a physician assistant.
Jason Freeman is a psychology technician working under Dr. Jim McKay. He is primarily involved the study “Impact of Enhancements to Smartphone-based Continuing Care for Alcohol Dependence.” Jason earned his Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University (New Brunswick), summa cum laude, with a double major in Psychology and Political Science. While at Rutgers, he worked with the Social-Organizational Research Lab, managed by Dr. John Aiello. There, he designed and presented an individual research project funded by small grants, “The effects of social presence on task performance”, at the 2012 Aresty Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University. Upon graduation, he began working as a research assistant with Dr. Marsha Bates and her Cardiac Neuroscience Lab at the Center of Alcohol Studies. With the lab, Jason worked on a project analyzing individual neuropsychological recovery trajectories from alcohol use disorders, culminating in a paper, “The mean and the individual: A person-centered approach to neuropsychological recovery in men and women with substance use disorders”, published in Frontiers in Psychiatry. While working with Penn, he hopes to further refine his research skills and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in the future.
Jessie Hemmons, MS, is a Clinical Research Coordinator working under Dr. Brenda Curtis, coordinating “Predicting AOD Relapse and Treatment Completion from Social Media Use” and Dr. James McKay, coordinating “Impact of Enhancements to Smartphone-based Continuing Care for Alcohol Dependence” with Megan Ivey. Jessie completed her Master of Science in Clinical and Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Therapy from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Jessie has experience in both research and clinical settings. She started her career at the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Raquel Gur in the Neuropsychiatry Department, coordinating an exploratory study involving individuals with 22q11.2DS. After that, she traveled the country and worked as a mental health clinician for adolescents in Oakland, CA and spent some valuable time in New Orleans, LA. Jessie returned to Philadelphia in 2014 and began working under Drs. Curtis and McKay in April 2015. She is an active knitting artist who enjoys yarnbombing, which is sewing knitting to objects in a shared urban environment.
April Howard, MS, is a research counselor working under Dr. Jim McKay on the “Impact of Enhancements to Smartphone-based Continuing Care for Alcohol Dependence” and “Preventing Risky Drinking in Veterans with Prescription Opiates” studies. April completed both her master’s degree in Counseling and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Shippensburg University. She began her work in Higher Education, working with college students in residence life, student activities, and students who were found in violation of the alcohol and drug policy. Over time, April transitioned into the behavioral health field, working in both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric and drug rehabilitation facilities. She earned her certificate as a Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional in 2014 and hopes to continue her education and experience in behavioral health and research.
Megan Ivey, MS, MLA, is a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator working under Dr. James McKay. A long-time Penn employee, Megan began her career as a research coordinator under the late Dr. Arthur Alterman, and Dr. John Cacciola, assisting in the development of instruments such as the TSR-6 and the ASI-6. Megan transitioned from instrument development to clinical research when she began working under Dr. McKay in 2006, when he was awarded the large grant “Effectiveness of Extended Treatment in Drug Dependence,” and has coordinated each of Dr. McKay’s numerous subsequent grants. Megan now coordinates Dr. McKay’s projects and grants at both Penn and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, conducts basic statistical analyses, manages the lab, and recently served on the Society for Clinical Research Coordinators and Managers Advisory Committee. Megan received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Experimental Psychology from Saint Joseph’s University. A lifelong learner, she has also enjoyed taking classes at the University of Pennsylvania that led to a Master of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Urban Studies, as well as many classes in the School of Social Policy and Practice.
Jamil Lane is a psychology technician under Dr. McKay. He is primarily involved with the research study “Impact of Enhancements to Smartphone-based Continuing Care for Alcohol Dependence.” Currently, Jamil is a Master of Public Health candidate at La Salle University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. He is pursuing a Master of Public Health which will allow him to retain his eagerness to improve chronic health conditions among underprivileged populations. He also plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical and Translational Medicine upon establishing himself as a public health professional. It is his personal and professional goal to contribute to research and organizations that ameliorate the health of populations in resource-challenged communities in the United States. Outside of school and work, Jamil enjoys spending time with his family, running Kelly Drive, and exploring all that Philadelphia has to offer!
Dr. Kevin Lynch is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he works on models for causal inference, with applications to mediation analysis and the analysis of dynamic treatment regimes. His collaborative research is concerned with applications of statistical methods in Psychiatry, with particular emphasis on substance abuse research.
Dr. David Oslin is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Director of the VISN 4 Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) and the Chief of Behavioral Health at the Crescenz (Philadelphia) Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The MIRECC supports research on implementing measurement based care and facilitate a number of research projects for post-doctoral fellows and faculty. Dr. Oslin is the author of over 150 research publications and 30 chapters, books, or editorials. His research portfolio includes studies aimed to improve access to behavioral health intervention care, improving treatment outcomes for addictive disorders, and the study of pharmacogenetics of addiction treatment. Additionally, Dr. Oslin continues research on the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based practices for integrating primary and mental health care.
Sarah Rosenbach is a psychology technician working under Dr. McKay. She is primarily involved with “Preventing Risky Drinking in Veterans with Prescription Opiates.” Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, she worked under John Trueswell, Angela Duckworth, and participated in the honors program under Carmen McLean and Edna Foa. She graduated summa cum laude and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi. After graduation, she moved to New Orleans with Teach for America. While teaching ninth-grade remedial algebra, her senior honors thesis, “Social and academic functioning in adolescents with child sexual abuse-related PTSD” was accepted for publication in Child Abuse and Neglect, and she realized that research was calling her back. Between her work at the Center on the Continuum of Care and a commitment to furthering her statistical prowess through Penn coursework, Sarah has embarked on a fulfilling career in research. She is unsure what the future will hold but is currently considering further education in social science research methods or a move to policy research in the nonprofit or private sector.
Max Stern is a psychology technician working under Dr. McKay. He is primarily involved with “Preventing Risky Drinking in Veterans with Prescription Opiates.” Max received a degree in psychology, magna cum laude, from Binghamton University. While at Binghamton, Max worked as a research assistant in the Binghamton Anxiety Clinic under the direction of Dr. Meredith Coles for three and a half years. Max’s senior project, “An Initial Examination of Emotion Regulation and Obsessive Compulsive Symptoms” was published in the Journal of Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders in 2014. After graduation, Max worked as a teaching assistant at the HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, located in West Philadelphia. Max enjoyed working with the staff and students at the historic 123-year-old school, however a desire to return to a research setting guided him to Penn. While at Penn, Max plans to refine his clinical and research interests on his way to pursuing a doctorate degree in community and clinical psychology.
Dan Summers is a psychology technician working under Dr. Brenda Curtis. He is working on the study “Predicting AOD Relapse and Treatment Completion from Social Media Use.” Dan earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an Economics minor from Tulane University. While at Tulane, he had the opportunity to spend a semester studying in Sydney, Australia, where he completed a sport psychology course that opened his eyes to a new area of the psychology field. Once he returned from Australia, Dan gained experience in the Sport Psychology Department at YSC Sports—the developmental academy for the Philadelphia Union soccer team. At YSC Sports, he had the chance to assist in mental skills training for youth athletes and write articles on approaches for maximizing player performance. Ultimately, Dan plans on attending graduate school to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical psychology.
Tyrone Thomas, MHS, is a senior therapist and research technician currently working with Dr. McKay on “Preventing Risky Drinking in Veterans with Prescription Opiates” and “Impact of Enhancements to Smartphone-based Continuing Care for Alcohol Dependence.” His responsibilities in the McKay studies have included providing protocol relapse prevention counseling interventions, telephone-based counseling, and supplemental support utilizing CBT and MI approaches. Tyrone holds a Master in Health Services from Lincoln University and has worked as a clinician in the addictions treatment field for over 15 years. In the 12 years he has been with Dr. McKay, Tyrone has been involved in numerous studies in a variety of roles. In addition to his role at the Center on the Continuum of Care, he also works as an addictions and psychiatric therapist at an inpatient facility at Presbyterian Hospital and facilitates an Intensive Outpatient Program for Northwest Human Services in Delaware Country.
Dr. Deborah Van Horn is a research psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Since coming to Penn in 1998, she has been an investigator, clinical trainer, and therapist in studies of innovative applications of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Motivational Interviewing in addiction treatment. She has collaborated in the development of clinical protocols for several of the Center’s telephone continuing care studies and is co-author of the book Telephone Continuing Care for Adults published by Hazelden in 2010. A member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, Dr. Van Horn consults nationally on implementing MI and CBT in community-based addiction treatment and general health care settings.
Alexandra Wimberly, LMSW, MPH, is a PhD candidate in social welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. She received her master’s in social work from Simmons, her master’s in public health from Harvard and her bachelor’s in art studio from UCLA. Alexandra’s main research interests consider substance use interventions for people caught in the criminal justice system. She works with Dr. McKay’s team conducting secondary data analysis looking at criminal justice and HIV sex-risk outcomes of people in continuing care. She also is conducting a study looking at the efficacy of a yoga intervention among people with HIV who are in reentry from prison or jail and experience challenges with substance use.
Regular Collaborators from Other Institutions
Adam Brooks, PhD (Treatment Research Institute): adaptive treatments, use of phone technology in treatment and recovery monitoring
Alan Budney, PhD (Dartmouth College): adaptive treatments; treatment mechanisms, mediators, and moderators of outcomes
David Gustafson, PhD (University of Wisconsin): quality improvement, systems change, web-based disease management programs
Kathryn McCollister, PhD (University of Miami): economic evaluations of continuing care interventions
Jon Morgenstern, PhD (Columbia University): study of mechanisms of change, implementation of complex disease management interventions in large public systems of care
Susan Murphy, PhD (University of Michigan): adaptive treatments and related statistics
Donald Shepard, PhD (Brandeis University): economic assessment and evaluations