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The section on Community Behavioral Health has active research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. In addition, multiple foundations support the work of faculty in this section.


Niranjan S. Karnik, MD, PhD 

The STRIVE project is a family-based intervention for homeless and runaway youth. STRIVE aims to improve residential stability and the quality of residential life, to reduce the number of runaway episodes, and to minimize HIV-related sexual and substance use risk behaviors for youth between ages 12 to 17.

The Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM) has awarded a Cohn Fellowship to Dawn Bounds, Assistant Professor of Nursing and Psychiatry at Rush, to support her research in adapting the STRIVE Project for commercially sexually exploited youth.

The purpose of the study is to (1) adapt a family re-engagement strategy for homeless youth to reduce recurrent sexual exploitation of sexually exploited homeless youth who are ethnic/racial and/or sexual/gender minorities; and (2) to test the feasibility and preliminary impact of the adapted STRIVE intervention (Chicago STRIVE) on reducing risk factors that predispose youth to subsequent episodes of sexual exploitation.


Hale Thompson, PhD

Using a K12 Career Development Award from the ACCELERAT program of Northwestern University, Hale Thompson of Community Behavioral Health at Rush will study the best ways to expand substance misuse screening and intervention at Chicago-area hospitals using the Substance Use Intervention Team (SUIT) model as a template.

The SUIT program is a multi-disciplinary consultation team of addiction medicine specialists from emergency medicine, psychiatry, toxicology, social work, and pharmacology. The SUIT process begins with standardized universal screenings, followed by a brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) for substance misuse. The program has shown promising results in decreased use of emergency rooms, average length of stays and rates of readmissions.


Allison Wainer, PhD / Niranjan Karnik, MD, PhD

As many as one in three children on Chicago’s West Side show early signs of mental health issues. Rush University Medical Center has been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association to address this problem by increasing access to high quality, short term, early behavioral interventions through a program called Building Early Connections.

Building Early Connections targets the most common childhood behavioral health concerns including anxiety, trauma, challenging behavior, and developmental issues. The program develops coordinated systems of specialized promotion, screening and treatment services designed to deliver evidence-based proactive solutions that alter children’s developmental trajectories and strengthen their families. The effort is expected to help 40,000 children and their families on the West Side.

Section Contact

Deanna Doss

Administrative Assistant

1645 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 302

Chicago, IL 60612