Meet Our Researchers

Alicia Allen, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Associate Professor, Clinical Translational Sciences
Associate Professor, Public Health

Alicia Allen, PhD, MPH, is a behavioral epidemiologist who seeks to identify female-specific factors that contribute to addiction. Compared to men, women are at greater risk for development and continuation of addiction and substance use disorders. The identification of female-specific predictors (such as pregnancy, menstrual cycle, ovarian hormones, use of hormonal contraceptives) informs the development of novel and effective prevention and intervention efforts to spare women and their families of the harmful effects of addiction.  For example, in her ongoing work, she is examining how specific infant caregiving activities (e.g., skin-to-skin contact) may provoke a hormonal response (e.g., oxytocin) that then reduces craving for opioids and subsequently reduces postpartum misuse of opioids. View profile >>

Julie Armin, PhD

Assistant Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Assistant Professor of Practice, Health Promotion Sciences
Director, Health Disparities Curriculum, College of Medicine – Tucson

Julie Armin, PhD, centers her research program on building an evidence-base to help connect historically marginalized populations to health and social services. Dr. Armin’s long-term research goal is innovation in health services delivery, using community-informed approaches to increasing accessibility and availability of evidence-based cancer care. In doing so, she aims to address gaps in cancer prevention and treatment, as well as investigate communities’ disconnection from the services that support their health and wellness. View profile >>



James Cunningham, PhD

Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Associate Professor, Public Health

Dr. Cunningham’s research interests include social epidemiologic methods, program and policy evaluation, health services workforce quality, and health disparity determinants. He introduced and helped develop the study of how essential/precursor chemical controls impact illicit drug production, use, and morbidity. He is also working to foster more population-based health research among indigenous peoples. View profile >>





Jennifer De La Rosa, PhD

Assistant Research Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Director of Evaluation, Project FUTRE

Professional Persona
Jennifer S. De La Rosa PhD is a medical sociologist and data scientist specializing in treatment utilization and quality, health outcomes and functional outcomes including quality of life in the interrelated areas of chronic pain, substance use, and mental illness.

Research Program
De La Rosa's research program characterizes the intersection of chronic pain, mental health and substance use disorder, treatment use, quality, outcomes, and health equity. She directs strategy at the Comprehensive Center for Pain in Addiction. Though she has worked in diverse content areas, the themes of self-determination, adaptation, empowerment, and skills development is present throughout. Ultimately, Dr. De La Rosa’s intended impact is to empower the public and decision-makers with actionable insights to support better health outcomes and quality of life for all people impacted by these conditions. View profile >>

Jacy Farkas

Associate Director, UCEDD

UCEDD Research
Focus on intersectionality and disparities
a. Improving access to disability services for refugees with disabilities
b. Disability experiences in the borderlands
c. Youth with disabilities in foster care
d. Sexual violence against people with IDD
e. Abuse and neglect prevention
f. Cancer screening for Native women with IDD
g. Cancer prevention, diagnosis, survival among people with IDD
h. Transition services for youth with disabilities
i. Pregnancy and parenting for people with disabilities

Inclusive Research
a. PICORI – access for people with IDD to health related research
b. NIH – assent strategies for people with Down syndrome

a. Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health
b. Swim camp interventions
c. Policy surveillance to assess health promoting policies for people with IDD

View profile >>

Francine Gachupin, PhD, MPH

Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Professor, Psychology
Professor, American Indian Studies
Professor, Public Health

Dr. Gachupin, Professor, and chronic disease epidemiologist is conducting interventional research aimed at reducing American Indian health disparities [U54CA143924 and 1R01MD014127-01A1].  Her research focuses on three primary health areas: (1) primary obesity prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion among youth, (2) cancer health disparities, and (3) healthy aging among Native elders. American Indians comprise 1.7% of all people in the United States and according to the Indian Health Service, they experience significant health disparities compared to all other races. Examples of these disparities include later stage at diagnosis of disease, poor prognosis, increased prevalence of risk factors and comorbidities, higher prevalence of risk factors and comorbidities at younger ages, and higher overall mortality. These disparities are due largely to social determinants of health including poverty, unemployment, poor nutrition, and historical trauma, but modifiable risk factors, including health behaviors, play a significant role as well. These complex and multifaceted exposures that inform on disparities form the backdrop for Dr. Gachupin’s research. View profile >>

Allison Huff, DHed

Assistant Professor, Family and Community Medicine

Dr. Allison Huff, DHed, is an interdisciplinary researcher focusing on the biopsychosocial factors impacting chronic pain, addiction, and health disparities. Current gold-standard care modalities for these persistent and often co-morbid disorders historically increase health disparities for underserved and undertreated groups. Dr. Huff applies convergence research strategies to bring a transdisciplinary approach into medical research to use technology to personalize treatment options. She investigates the use of transcranial direct current stimulation as an adjunctive treatment option for chronic pain and addiction, which has implications for future machine learning and algorithmic opportunities to provide care that is unbiased and objective, reducing disparities. Dr. Huff studies disparities impacting healthcare workers and their patients and develop programs and curriculum that improve workplace environments, access to care and treatment options. View profile >>

Linnea Linde-Krieger, PhD, LCSW

Assistant Professor, Family and Community Medicine

Linnea Linde-Krieger, PhD, LCSW, is a developmental psychologist and licensed clinical social worker with over a decade of applied and translational research experience with individuals and families affected by trauma and substance misuse. The overall goal of Dr. Linde-Krieger’s research program is to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families from underserved communities through the identification and promotion of resilience factors. To achieve this goal, she collects multi-method, multi-informant, and multi-level data to elucidate modifiable mechanisms of risk and protection and their associations with biopsychosocial outcomes. In particular, Dr. Linde-Krieger examines how caregiver risk factors (e.g., substance misuse, history of trauma) and caregiving features (e.g., caregiver behavior, physiology) influence family processes and perpetuate or prevent negative intergenerational patterns (e.g., cycles of substance misuse, family violence). Her published research has examined the effects of maternal stress on family functioning, caregiving behavior, and mother-child relationship quality. Her ongoing research, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Arizona Institute for Mental Health Research, identifies risk and protective factors for substance misuse during important transitional developmental periods (e.g., adolescence, perinatal period), examines infant development and neuroendocrine regulation following prenatal substance exposure, and fosters recovery through implementation science and promotion of harm reduction practices. View profile >>

Beth Meyerson, PhD

Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Director, Harm Reduction Research Lab, Family and Community Medicine
Directory of Policy, Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center

Dr. Beth Meyerson directs the Harm Reduction Research Lab with focus on public health policy and systems to advance harm reduction and sexual health in pharmacy and medicine. She is also Policy Director of the Comprehensive Center for Pain and Addiction at University of Arizona Health Sciences.  Dr. Meyerson’s research is oriented as translational to program and policy through the application of implementation science and community-based participatory action research (CBPAR). Current funded research focuses on the normalization of medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder, and pharmacy harm reduction practices to reduce bloodborne illnesses and opioid overdoses.  Dr. Meyerson’s policy research has involved measuring the impact of federal policy change on methadone and buprenorphine access, and evidence-based policy communication on policy decision making. Dr. Meyerson has been highly engaged with legislative and administrative policy partners to translate research to inform policy development nationally, and in several states, including most recently in Arizona and Indiana. View profile >>

Yumi Shirai, PhD

Assistant Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Assistant Professor, Applied Intercultural Arts Research - GIDP
Director, ArtWorks

Dr. Yumi Shirai’s research projects broadly address two areas: a) identifying gaps and inequitable health care and health-related services for adults with physical and cognitive challenges, and their caregivers, including people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) and dependent elders and b) promotion of inclusive community and social connections via creative arts projects for adults with IDD.

Here are a few examples of specific projects and their impacts:

The Access for Intellectually and/or Developmentally Disabled People to Health-Related Research Project (AIDD2Health), funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, aims to develop a library of resources and tools for health researchers that promote the inclusion of people with IDD in research. The project team consists of advocates, family members, professionals, and stakeholders, ensuring support for health-related research that addresses the needs and desires of intellectually and/or developmentally disabled individuals for healthy living.

The Daily Understanding of Caregiver Study (DUCS) provides an inclusive understanding of caregiver stress-coping phenomena through a multi-level analysis of daily repeated measures of life events and caregivers’ stress reactions. It also includes in-depth qualitative interviews, resulting in nine papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

The Role of Arts and Impact of COVID-19 for Adults with IDD Study: Dr. Shirai is leading this study, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The study aims to identify critical barriers and challenges faced by the IDD community, as well as creative solutions. They utilize a mixed methodology approach, using survey and interview data from creative organizations that serve people with IDD. Their findings are currently under review for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. View profile >>

Celina Valencia, DrPH

Associate Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Research Associate, Cancer Center Division

Celina Valencia, DrPH, is a health equity scientist, trained as a social epidemiologist, who utilizes data science analytical approaches to develop new methods for measuring biological pathways of social adversity. Dr. Valencia’s emerging program of research centers the role of social epigenomics in patterns of increased breast cancer mortality risk in the United States. As epigenetic signatures are both modifiable and reversible, the long-term goal of her research is to identify clinical and translational applications to improve rates of survivorship in women from historically marginalized backgrounds. View profile >>