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Division of Research

The Division of Research in the Saint Louis University Department of Family and Community Medicine supports research, scholarship and innovations that enhance the quality of care for SLU patients, families and communities.

A group faculty photo of the Family Medicine Research Division Faculty and Staff

As a team of interdisciplinary investigators who are experts in big data, qualitative methods and translational research, with a focus on vulnerable populations (i.e., LGBTQ, justice-involved, veterans), we seek to inform current and emerging challenges related to the opioid epidemic, mental health and comorbid chronic disease. 

We intend that our research will be utilized by clinicians, patients, community members and policymakers to help patients thrive. With continuous methodological innovation and engagement with the community we serve, we seek to be the national leader in research informed by social justice and contribute to evidence-based care.


Headshot of Jeff Scherrer

Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D. 

Jeffrey Scherrer joined the department in 2013. He is a clinical epidemiologist and health services researcher focused on the mental health consequences of chronic prescription opioid use. His other primary research area concerns the mind-body interface and the health consequences of psychiatric disorders.

Relevant Citations

Scherrer JF, Salas J, Copeland LA, Stock EM, Ahmedani BK, Sullivan M, Burroughs T, Schneider FD, Bucholz KK, Lustman PJ. Prescription opioid duration, dose, and increased risk of depression in 3 large patient populations. Ann Fam Med.  2016;14 (1):54-62 PMID: 26755784 PMCID PMC4709156

Scherrer JF, Salas J, Lustman P, van den Berk-Clark C, Schnurr PP, Tuerk P, Cohen BE, Friedman MJ, Norman SB, Schneider FD, Chard KM. Role of obesity in the association between PTSD and Incident Diabetes. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018; 75(11):1189-1198. PMID: 30090920, PMCID: PMC6248094

Scherrer JF, Salas J, Norman SB, Schnurr PP, Chard KM, Tuerk P, Schneider FD, van den Berk-Clark C, Cohen BE, Friedman MJ, Lustman PJ. Association between clinically meaningful posttraumatic stress disorder improvement and risk of type 2 diabetes. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Aug 21;76(11):1159-1166 PMID: 31433443, PMCID: PMC6704751

Scherrer JF, Tucker J, Salas J, Zidong Zhang, Grucza R. Comparison of Opioids prescribed for patients at risk for opioid misuse before and after CDC opioid prescribing guidelines. JAMA Network Open.2020;3(12):e2027481. PMCID: PMC7711316

Scherrer JF, Salas J, Wiemken TL, Jacobs C, Morley JE, Hoft DF. Lower Risk for Dementia Following Adult Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccination. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2021;76(8):1436-1443. PMID: 33856020

Funded Ongoing Projects

Funding Mechanism: Government
Funding Agency: National Health, Lung and Blood Institute
Grant number: 1 R01 HL160553-01
Title: Clinically Meaningful PTSD Improvement: Reducing Risk for Adverse Outcomes in Comorbid Cardiometabolic Disease
Role: Principal Investigator

Funding Mechanism: Government
Funding Agency: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Grant number: 1 R21 DE032531-01
Title: Long-term Opioid Therapy, Depression and Suicide Mortality Risk in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer
Role: site Principal Investigator (PI: Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters)

Funding Mechanism: Government
Funding Agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Grant number: R01DA043811-01A1
Title: Pathways from Chronic Prescription Opioid Use to New Onset Mood Disorder
Role: Principal Investigator

Headshot of Carissa VandenBerk Clark

Carissa van den Berk-Clark, Ph.D., LCSW

Carissa van den Berk-Clark is an emerging scholar in the area of substance abuse treatment implementation research and community participatory research. She also works with community-based organizations to build local capacity to reduce health inequities. She serves as the deputy director of the Saint Louis University Area Health Education Center and director of ARCHNet, SLU's primary care research network. She received her Ph.D. in social welfare policy from the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed pre-doctoral training at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center and National Institutes of Health postdoctoral training at Washington University's School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Relevant Citations

van den Berk-Clark, C. (2015) The dilemmas of frontline staff working with the homeless:  Discretion and the task environment.  Housing Policy Debate, 26(1), 105-122. PMCID: 26900305.

van den Berk-Clark, C., Doucette, E., Rottnek, F., Hughes, R., Manard, W., Lawrence, T., Prada, M., & Schneider, F.D. (2017). Do patient-centered medical homes improve low income patients' health behaviors, outcomes and experiences?  A systematic review and metanalysis.  Health Services Research. DOI:10.1111/1475-6773.12737. PMID: 28670708 

van den Berk-Clark, C. Secrest, S., Walls, J., Hallberg, E., Lustman, P.J., Schneider, F.D., & Scherrer, J. (2018). Is posttraumatic stress disorder associated with poor health behaviors associated with risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease?  A systematic review and meta-analysis.  Health Psychology, 37(5), 407-416. NIHMSID: 958646. 

van den Berk-Clark, C., Myerson, J., Green, L., & Grucza, R. (2018). Past trauma and future choices:  Differences in discounting in low-income, urban African Americans. Psychological Medicine,

van den Berk Clark, C., Federova, M., Duncan, E., Ju, T., & Pickard, J. Funding and Implementation of Recovery Oriented Treatment Programs in the US from 2004-2020. In press:  Journal of Drug Education 

Headshot of Jimmyoung Cho

Jinmyoung Cho, Ph.D. 

Jinmyoung Cho is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Prior to joining the department, she was a research investigator at the Center for Applied Health Research in the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, Texas. She received her doctorate from Iowa State University in human development and family studies with a gerontology specialization. Her research focuses on utilizing electronic health records (EHR) to identify older adults and caregivers at high-risk healthcare utilization and improve their health status and healthcare outcomes.

  • Impact of Race‒Ethnicity on Health and Health Care Access among Oldest-Old Patients. HMORN-OAICs AGING Initiative Pilot Project Program (NIA 1R33AG057806, PI: Jerry H. Gurwitz). Role: Pilot Project PI, 07/2021-06/2022.
  • A multidimensional approach to studying the impact of caregiving on health among dementia caregivers (1R21AG072395, PI: Cho, J.). National Institutes of Aging (R21), Role: PI, 05/2021-04/2023.
  • GamePlan4Care: Web-based Delivery System for REACH II (Principal Investigator: Stevens, A. B.). National Institutes of Aging (R01), Role: Co-Investigator, 09/2018 – 05/2023. Optio autem, incidunt.

Wei, M., & Cho, J. (2023). Readmissions and post-discharge mortality by race and ethnicity among Medicare beneficiaries with multimorbidity. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Jan 27. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18251. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36705464.

Severance, J., Rivera, S., Cho, J., Hartos, J., Khan, A., & Knebl, J. (2022). A collaborative implementation strategy to increase falls prevention training using the Age-Friendly Health Systems approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(10), 5903;

Choi, S., Martin, P., Cho, J., Ryou, Y., & Heinz, M. (2022). Personality and compliance with COVID‐ 19 protective measures among older Americans: Moderating effects of age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Personality and Individual Differences.

Cho, J., Marishak-Simon, Smith, D. R., & Stevens, A. B. (2021). The impact of a nutrition counseling program on the use of hospital services for Meals on Wheels clients. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community. doi: 10.1080/10852352.2021.1930818

Le, S. M., Copeland, L. A., Zeber, J. E., Benge, J., Allen, L., Cho, J., Liao, I-C., & Rasmussen, J. (2020). Factors affecting time between symptom onset and emergency department arrival in stroke patients. eNeurologicalSci. doi: 10.1016/j.ensci.2020.100285

Nakagawa, T., Cho, J., & Yeung, D. (2021). Successful aging in East Asia: Comparison among China, Korea, and Japan. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 76, S17-S26.

Headshot of Sarah Gerbauer

Sarah Gebauer, M.D. 

Sarah Gebauer joined the department in 2017. She is board certified in family medicine and is a translational epidemiologist. Her research uses geospatial information science and administrative health data to investigate the impact of neighborhood characteristics on knee osteoarthritis.  

Relevant Citations

Gebauer S., Scherrer JF, Salas J, Burge S, Schneider FD. Disability and disability

benefit seeking in chronic low back pain. Occup Med (Lond). 2015Jun;65(4):309-16. PMID 25754977

Gebauer, S., Salas, J., & Scherrer, J. F. (2017). Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Receipt of Opioid Medication for New Back Pain Diagnosis. J Am Board Fam Med, 30(6), 775-783. PMID: 29180552

Gebauer S, Salas J, Scherrer JF, Burge S, Schneider D. Disability benefits and change in prescription opioid dose. Pop Health Manage 2019. PMID 30855207

Gebauer S, Schootman M, Xian H, Xaverius P. Neighborhood Built and Social Environment and Meeting Physical Activity Recommendations Among Mid to Older Adults with Joint Pain. Preventive Medicine Reports. 18:101063 PMID 3214-385

Gebauer S, Salas J, Scherrer J, et al. Which aspects of neighbourhood environment are most associated with meeting physical activity recommendations in American adults: an NHIS study. BMJ Open 2020;10:e038473. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038473 PMID 32994249

Funded Ongoing Projects

Funding Agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse 
Grant number: R01DA043811-01A1 
Title: Pathways from Chronic Prescription Opioid Use to New Onset Mood Disorder 
Role: Co-Investigator, (PI: Scherrer) 
Funding Mechanism: Government 

Funding Agency: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 
Grant Application Number: 1 K23 AR079035-01 
Title: Neighborhood Barriers and Facilitators to Walking and the Epidemiology of Knee Osteoarthritis and Developing Effective Exercise Prescriptions 
Role: Principal Investigator 
Funding Mechanism: Government

Headshot of Richard Grusza

Richard Grucza, Ph.D.

Richard Grucza joined the department in 2020. He is an epidemiologist focused on substance use disorders. He is interested in using advanced methods and administrative data to address treatment outcomes and public policy questions. 

Relevant Citations

Comparative Effectiveness associated With Buprenorphine and Naltrexone in Opioid Use Disorder and Cooccurring Polysubstance Use. Xu KY, Mintz CM, Presnall N, Bierut LJ, Grucza RA. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 May 2;5(5):e2211363. PMID: 35536575 

Consumer Access to Buprenorphine and Methadone in Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers: A secret shopper study. Presnall NJ, Butler GC, Grucza RA. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2022 Aug;139:108788. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2022.108788. Epub 2022 Apr 30. PMID: 35534359 

Increases in Secondhand Smoke After Going Smoke-Free: An Assessment of the Impact of a Mandated Smoke-Free Housing Policy. Plunk AD, Rees VW, Jeng A, Wray JA, Grucza RA. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020 Dec 12;22(12):2254-2256. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntaa040. PMID: 32080738 

Youth and Adult Arrests for Cannabis Possession After Decriminalization and Legalization of Cannabis. Plunk AD, Peglow SL, Harrell PT, Grucza RA. JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Aug 1;173(8):763-769. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1539. 

Grucza RA, Sher KJ, Kerr WC, Krauss MJ, Lui CK, McDowell YE, Hartz S, Virdi G, Bierut LJ. Trends in Adult Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking in the Early 21st-Century United States: A Meta-Analysis of 6 National Survey Series.Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2018 Oct;42(10):1939-1950. doi: 10.1111/acer.13859. Epub 2018 Aug 23. PMID: 30080258

Funded Outgoing Projects

NIH (NCI) R01 CA245716. Using Differences in Perceived Legitimacy and Resident Compliance to Promote Fair and Effective Implementation of Smoke Free Housing. This project will examine the implementation of smoke-free housing policies in public housing complexes in Eastern Virginia and how public housing residents respond in relation to their perception of the legitimacy of the policymaking process (Co-Investigator) 

Arnold Ventures Foundation. State-level Barriers and Facilitators to Evidence-Based Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder in Publicly Funded Treatment Centers. This mixed-methods project will examine state policies, regulations and practices governing how distributed SAMHSA block grant funding for substance-use disorder treatment. We will evaluate the degree to which various policies have increased the utilization of evidence-based medication treatment for opioid use disorder among the uninsured and under-insured. 

Headshot of Jennifer Bello Kottensteete

Jennifer Bello Kottenstette, M.D.

Jennifer Bello Kottenstette joined the department in 2016. She is a board-certified family medicine and addiction medicine physician and health services researcher. Her research focuses on understanding and addressing the unique reproductive health needs of justice-involved women with substance use disorders.

Relevant Citations

Bello JK, Hearing C, Salas J, Weinstock J, Linhorst D. Trends in substance use by gender among participants in a jail-based substance use disorder treatment program: 1998-2016. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2020. Jan;65(1):97-102. PMID: 31386191. 

Bello JK, Baxley C, Weinstock J. Preconception Health Services for Women with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD): A Review and Best Practice Recommendation. Translational Issues in Psychological Science. 2021. Jan;7(2): 154-165.  

Bello JK, Johnson A, Skiold-Hanlin, S. Perspectives on preconception health among formerly incarcerated women with substance use disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2021. Dec;131:108545. PMID: 34218993. 

Bello JK, Salas J, Grucza, R. Preconception health service provision among women with and without substance use disorders. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2022. Jan;230:109194. PMID: 34871977. 

Bello JK, Jaegers L. Interprofessional and community engagement for evaluating and growing evidence-based criminal justice practice and policy. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science. 2023 7(1):E34.

Funded Ongoing Projects

Funding mechanism: Government
Funding Agency: National Institute of Drug Abuse
Grant number: K23DA053433-01A1 
Title: A Preconception Health Intervention to Reduce Substance Exposed Pregnancies Among Incarcerated Women 
Role: Principal Investigator 
3/1/2022 – 2/28/2027 

Funding mechanism: University 
Funding Agency: Applied Health Sciences Research Grant Program 
Title: Developing and Implementing a Smoking Cessation Intervention through Evidence based Navigation and Collaborative Education (Team SCIENCE) among Pregnant Women with Substance Use Disorders: Adopting an Implementation Science Approach 
Role: Co-investigator 
5/1/2022 – 4/30/2023 

Funding mechanism: University  
Funding Agency: Applied Health Sciences Research Grant Program 
Title: From Success Stories to Best Practices: A Qualitative Study of Medication Transitions for People with Opioid Use Disorders 
Role: Collaborator 
5/1/2022 – 4/30/2023 


Joanne Salas 
Headshot of Joanne Salas
Joanne Salas joined the SLU Department of Family and Community Medicine in September 2006. She serves as the director of biostatistics for the department and the AHEAD Institute. She is involved with all things related to programming, data/statistics and methodology. She oversees a team of biostatisticians in response to research-related service requests across the university. She also aids in the build and use of big data resources for research (e.g. SLU-SSM VDW, nationally distributed EHR/claims data). She enjoys collecting bourbon; music; weightlifting; hiking; playing hockey, golf, and softball; and doing anything/everything with her dog babies.

Scott Secrest 
Headshot of Scott Secrest
Scott Secrest joined the SLU Department of Family and Community Medicine in June 2014 and is currently a research coordinator. He is the department liaison to the Institutional Review Board, coordinates the annual Primary Care Research Symposium, supports the community medicine rotation of the Family Medicine Residency, and assists faculty in all areas of research. He enjoys small concerts, baking, playing bass poorly and hanging out with his 75-lb mutt.

Whitney Davidson 
Headshot of Whitney Davidson
After completing her bachelor’s in psychology, Whitney Davidson joined the Department of Family and Community Medicine in January 2022. She is a project coordinator for two projects within the department and is mostly involved with project coordination, data collection, and manuscript and grant editing. Her research interests include studying measures of pain, behavioral health, and substance use. Whitney enjoys biking, writing half-finished novels, and pestering her bunny, Joe Burrow. 

Giulia Croce
Headshot of Giulia Croce
Giulia Croce joined the department in 2020 as a senior research assistant. She has been working on three projects that focus on behavioral and substance use disorders. Giulia is mostly involved with project coordination, data collection, grant writing, focus group recruitment and community outreach.

What We Do

In addition to conducting research on actively-funded projects, the division provides hands-on support for the Department of Family and Community Medicine faculty, residents and medical students. We help with research design, methods, analyses, presentations, manuscript development and IRB applications, all of which encourage research productivity in our effort to advance evidence-based medicine.