Sara Becker, PhD, of the Brown University School of Public Health and the Warren Alpert Medical School, has been named the Alice Hamilton Professor of Psychiatry and inaugural director of the newly formed Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science (CDIS), which is part of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), effective August 1st. She is joining Feinberg as a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and of Medical Social Sciences.
“I am incredibly excited to serve as the inaugural director of the CDIS at IPHAM in the Feinberg School of Medicine. There are already exceptionally talented investigators, resources and enthusiasm supporting implementation science within individual departments and centers at Feinberg. I look forward to helping build the infrastructure needed to coordinate and galvanize these assets to advance the field,” Becker said.
A nationally recognized implementation scientist, Becker’s research promotes the uptake of evidence-based practice into routine clinical care. Her research interests also include digital health, direct-to-consumer marketing, and designing user experiences to promote sustained 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).
“The aspirations of the CDIS are ambitious, yet feasible, given the talent and resources at Northwestern,” Becker said. “Our new center aims to advance equitable access to evidence-based public health and medical interventions by accelerating the impact of research across the translational continuum; training the next generation of implementation scientists and practitioners; and, serving as a hub for cutting-edge implementation research at Feinberg, locally, domestically and globally.”
“We are extraordinarily lucky to have recruited Sara, an expert in implementation of evidence-based strategies for substance use treatment and a leader in the field of implementation science more generally,” said Tara Lagu, MD, MPH, director of IPHAM’s Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research and a professor of Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hospital Medicine and of Medical Social Sciences. “Although we have many resources and expertise focused on moving evidence into practice, she will help to unite and facilitate collaboration across the campus to better position us to be national leaders in the field of implementation science.”
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 of 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 Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The 10-year award will support Becker’s research in evaluating the technology-assisted parenting intervention Parenting Substance Misuse among Adolescents in Residential Treatment (SMART) versus residential treatment as usual for parents of adolescents in residential substance use treatment.
Becker is also a licensed clinical psychologist and has published more than 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 outlined a vision for growth and impact in implementation science that not only will elevate our campus but centers on empowering and supporting communities and stakeholders with collaboratively designed research and implementation strategies that will accelerate progress towards a shared goal of improving health and health equity,” said Ronald Ackermann, MD, MPH, senior associate dean for public health and director of IPHAM. “She is engaging, visionary, strategic, collaborative and has a proven record of success; we are extremely lucky to welcome her as the newest member of our Feinberg faculty and of IPHAM.”