To provide training to the next generation of pre- and post- doctoral scholars in the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV and drug use among individuals in the criminal justice system with a strong emphasis on individuals involved in alternatives to incarceration and community supervision (e.g., diversion programs, probation, and community and drug courts) who are affected by health disparities.

This is the first NIDA grant multidisciplinary training program that brings together 32 faculty members from the Columbia School of Social Work and the Mailman School of Public Health, who will participate in interdisciplinary mentoring. The training program is well positioned at Columbia University, given its geographic location in New York City, which ranks extremely high amongst cities that have the greatest rates of incarceration and community supervision of racial/ethnic minority groups, as well as the highest rates of HIV and drug abuse.

Program Activities

The training program provides a combination of activities—spanning didactic to hands-on experience as well as involving individual, group, and peer learning—to ensure Fellows have a strong knowledge, foundation, and an ability to independently conduct research.

Intensive Interdisciplinary Mentorship

Trainees receive a combination of interdisciplinary research mentorship and a career mentorship that accelerates trainees’ scientific and professional advancement. In addition to a dedicated primary mentor who meets regularly with the trainee, the program provides peer mentorship both among trainees as well as other senior researchers.

Independent Research Project(s)

Trainees will be involved extensively in her/his mentor’s research projects and grants. Trainees become an integral part of the research team and thus gain exposure to administrative and operational aspects of conducting research. This culminates with the trainee conducting her/his own secondary analysis, manuscripts, conference presentations, etc., ultimately getting the ability to move from research question to analysis and dissemination of findings in an independent manner.


With the guidance of her/his mentor, trainees will have the opportunity to enroll in appropriate and valuable courses (above coursework required by a trainee’s doctoral program) based on her/his research interests and training needs. Post doctoral trainees will be encouraged to take courses that would confer necessary and/or important knowledge and skills (e.g., advanced methodology and data analysis courses to buttress their prior training as well as further their specialization).


The program holds seminars led by faculty and world-class scientists from within and outside Columbia. The program’s seminar series will emphasize: theories and empirical evidence regarding HIV and substance use prevention, treatment, and intervention with criminal justice-involved populations.

Journal Club

The program’s Criminal Justice Journal Club will ensure trainees are exposed to contemporary and cutting edge scientific publications and research findings specifically related to HIV, substance abuse, and criminal justice. Discussion not only involves a critical appraisal of the research and article, but trainees are also encouraged to articulate how findings relate to their own research.

Data and Methods Clinic

The program’s Clinic provides trainees the opportunity to receive or participate in presentation of preliminary research findings, troubleshoot statistical and/or methodological challenges, and refine research ideas among a group of both new and seasoned researchers specifically focused on HIV and substance abuse among criminal justice-involved populations. The Clinic functions to provide constructive feedback and concrete next steps to maintain forward momentum as well as model the problem-solving/decision-making process.

Community Roundtable

At the annual Criminal Justice Community Roundtable, trainees will present their research and findings for feedback from service providers, policy makers, and community members on interpretation of findings, avenues (beyond academia) for dissemination to increase program and policy impact, and next steps for research. The Roundtable will help ensure that the program and research conducted by trainees is relevant to the needs in the community; this activity will also expose program staff and trainees to the persisting and emerging needs of criminal justice-involved populations.

Grantwriting Support

Grant training comes in the form of mentorship, grant writing workshops, consultation with experts, internal peer review, and samples/models of successful grant proposals. The program also provides logistical and technical support for the submission of grants.

Conference Travel Support

Fellows can receive up to $1,000 per year to offset cost for attending scientific conferences.


Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Grant number T32-DA037801.