Accomplished scientist to join Feinberg as inaugural director of Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science

Sara Becker, PhD, of Brown University School of Public Health and Warren Alpert Medical School, has been named Alice Hamilton Professor of Psychiatry and inaugural director of the new Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science (CDIS), part of the Institute of Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), starting August 1.

Sara Becker, PhD, of Brown University School of Public Health and Warren Alpert Medical School, has been named Alice Hamilton Professor of Psychiatry and inaugural director of the new Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science (CDIS), part of the Institute of Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), from August 1st. She joins Feinberg as a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and medical social sciences.

“I am extremely excited to be the first Director of CDIS at IPHAM at the Feinberg School of Medicine. There are already exceptionally talented investigators, resources, and enthusiasm supporting implementation science within every Feinberg department and center. I look forward to helping build the infrastructure necessary to coordinate and galvanize these assets to advance the field,” Becker said.

A nationally recognized implementation scientist, Becker’s research advances the adoption of evidence-based practices in routine clinical care. His research interests also include digital health, direct-to-consumer marketing, and designing user experiences to promote lasting behavior change.

Under Becker’s leadership, the newly formed CDIS will aim to bridge the gap between public health and medical knowledge (what we know) and public health and medical practice (what we do).

“CDIS’s aspirations are ambitious, but achievable, given Northwestern’s talent and resources,” Becker said. “Our new center aims to advance equitable access to evidence-based medical and public health interventions by accelerating research impact across the translational continuum; training the next generation of scientists and implementation practitioners; and serve as a hub for cutting-edge implementation research at Feinberg, locally, nationally and globally.

“We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Sara, an expert in the implementation of evidence-based strategies for addiction treatment and a leader in the field of implementation science more generally,” said Tara Lagu, MD, MPH, director of the IPHAM Health Center. Services and Outcomes Research and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine and Medical Social Sciences. “While we have many resources and expertise focused on putting evidence into practice, it will help unite and facilitate collaboration on campus to better position us to be national leaders in the science of Implementation.

Becker earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Duke University and completed her residency at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital and a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Since 2012, she has been the Principal Investigator on nine Implementation Science Grants supported by the National Institutes of Health, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In 2021, Becker was honored as the first implementation scientist to receive a MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The 10-year award will support Becker’s research in evaluating technology-assisted parenting intervention Parenting Substance Misuse between Adolescents in Residential Treatment (SMART) versus usual residential treatment for parents of adolescents in residential treatment of drug addiction.

Becker is also a licensed clinical psychologist and has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles. Her work has been honored with two national awards from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT): the Early Career Award from the Dissemination and Implementation Science Special Interest Group and the Mid-Career Award from the Addictive Behaviors Special Interest Group.

“Sara has outlined a vision for the growth and impact of implementation science that will not only elevate our campus, but focuses on empowering and supporting communities and stakeholders with research strategies and implementation that will accelerate progress toward a common goal of improving health and health equity,” said Ronald Ackermann, MD, MPH, Senior Associate Dean for Public Health and Director of the IPHAM. “She is engaging, visionary, strategic, collaborative and proven; we are extremely fortunate to welcome him as a new member of our Feinberg faculty and IPHAM.

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