Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D., VCBH Director, Professor Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, Vice Chair Department of Psychiatry
My work as the Director of the VCBH spans a number of research projects. I am the P.I. for the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), which focuses on investigating relationships between personal behaviors (lifestyle) and risk for chronic disease and premature death. Unhealthy personal behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, physical inactivity) account for 40% of premature deaths in the U.S. annually and substantially increase healthcare costs and health disparities. There is a tremendous need for greater scientific understanding of the mechanisms underpinning vulnerability to these risk behaviors; and, more effective interventions to promote behavior change.
I am also the P.I. for our Tobacco Center on Regulatory Science (TCORS) grant using the concepts, principles, and methods of behavioral economics and behavioral pharmacology to help the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products in carrying out its charge of regulating tobacco products. Our center focuses specifically on tobacco products in vulnerable populations, including women of childbearing age/pregnant women, individuals with co-morbid other substance use disorders, and individuals with co-morbid serious mental illness.
In addition, I lead two R01 research grants. The first is studying behavioral economic interventions for smoking cessation among pregnant woman and the second is investigating the same among mothers of young children.
Lastly, I am the P.I. for our T32 training program which has been continuously funded since 1990 and provides pre-doctoral and postdoctoral training programs in substance abuse and health behavior research.