Faculty and Staff

Bonnie McRee, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Bonnie McRee, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Training Institute Director

Bonnie McRee has a broad background in health services research and related educational activities focused on secondary prevention and treatment of psychoactive substance misuse. As an investigator on numerous federally funded grants, she has over 25 years of experience in developing and managing substance abuse treatment clinical trials, several of which have laid the groundwork for large implementation efforts in screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) initiatives. She contributed to the implementation evaluation of eleven federally-funded state/tribal organization SBIRT programs as part of a SAMHSA-funded cross-site evaluation effort. She assisted in developing the CT SBIRT Training Institute that prepares health professionals in primary care settings to conduct SBIRT services for alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug misuse. As Director of the Institute, Dr. McRee has expanded its mission, through a SAMHSA-funded initiative, to include technical assistance for community partners interested in implementing SBIRT services in their agencies. She has developed SBIRT curricula for health educators, nurses, physicians and dentists.

Thomas Babor, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Thomas Babor, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Senior Scientific Advisor

Dr. Babor is head of the Department of Community Medicine and Health Care and directs an active research program. As a research psychologist with additional training in public health, Dr. Babor has worked and published extensively in addiction research, including the assessment of alcohol use disorders, screening and brief intervention trials, and treatment research. Dr. Babor was the PI for the Coordinating Center of Project MATCH, a treatment matching study that investigated outcomes of three different psychosocial interventions: motivational enhancement, cognitive behavioral and Twelve Step Facilitation. He has also done extensive research on screening and brief intervention in primary care settings. In addition, Dr. Babor has developed several training programs with funding from NIDA, NIAAA, the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.

Steinberg

Karen Steinberg-Gallucci, Ph.D.

Brief Treatment Supervisor and Trainer

As a faculty member at UConn Health, Dr. Steinberg-Gallucci has been involved with teaching and psychotherapy training with medical students, residents, graduate students, and interns. Her work has focused on client-centered approaches, engagement strategies, and Motivational Interviewing. She has worked on a number of federally funded projects related to screening, assessment and treatment for alcohol and other substances, depression, and PTSD. These include Project MATCH (NIAAA) and The Marijuana Treatment Project (SAMHSA-CSAT). Karen currently serves as an investigator and clinical supervisor for a statewide initiative involving screening and in-home treatment for clinical depression among adolescent and young, first time mothers through Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood. She is also currently participating in a federally funded initiative to implement SBIRT across Connecticut (SAMHSA). Her role has been to develop, train, and oversee implementation of the Brief Treatment component. She adapted an evidence-based treatment she co-developed (BMDC) for a clinical trial of marijuana dependence, and has trained clinicians working at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) over the past three years. These trainings have involved teaching clinicians to incorporate Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive-Behavioral strategies in work with patients that screen into relevant risk categories.

Janice Vendetti, M.P.H., C.P.H.

Janice Vendetti, M.P.H., C.P.H.

Screening for Substance Use Trainer

Janice is a Health Services Researcher at UConn Health with over 20 years of experience where she has worked in the capacity of SBI Trainer as well as Data Manager, Analyst, and Evaluator on numerous projects demonstrating the efficacy of screening and brief intervention for at-risk substance use in various health care settings, including hospitals and federally qualified health care centers (FQHCs). She has been involved several state and federally funded grant initiatives in developing training and implementation protocols for SBI services to clinicians and providers in these settings and has worked in conjunction with the World Health Organization to develop and test screening instruments and brief intervention protocols for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Janice is a member of the WHO ASSIST Working Group that helped to develop and field-test the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (WHO-ASSIST). The Institute benefits from her expertise in proper administration and scoring of screening tests, and knowledge of how substances of abuse affect the body.

Janice also brings experience in program evaluation and implementation science. She was a member of the Cross-site Evaluation Team responsible for the evaluation of the first and third cohorts of the SAMHSA-funded SBIRT programs across the country and currently works to evaluate and provide guidance to the CT SBIRT Program.

She maintains her Certification in Public Health (CPH), is a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) and is a member of Delta Omega, the Honorary Society in Public Health (Beta Rho chapter).

Donna Damon, M.P.H.

Donna Damon, M.P.H.

SBIRT Trainer and QA Specialist

Donna has many years of experience in conducting SBIRT services in both clinical trials and implementation programs. She has served as the senior Health Educator on NIAAA and NIDA funded trials and provided training and monitoring to less experienced staff. In her current role with the CT SBIRT Program, Donna works closely with the Health Educators and their supervisors to monitor the fidelity of the screening, brief intervention, and referral services delivered in FQHCs. She is responsible for routinely monitoring the quantity and quality of the SBIRT services and providing routine feedback to the site supervisors and project staff. During Health Educator trainings, Donna draws on her past experience in the field for role-play demonstrations, and provides “real life” tips on forging relationships with patients and staff. Donna assisted Dr. Karen Steinberg Gallucci on the SBIRT Brief Treatment protocol development. Early on Karen nicknamed Donna the “Brief Treatment Fairy Godmother” for her organization of and assistance during the Brief Treatment Clinician training days.

Kate Robaina, M.P.H.

Kate Robaina, M.P.H.

SBIRT Trainer and QA Specialist

Kate has an extensive background in alcohol and drug prevention research and practice. As a Trainer for the SBIRT Training Institute, she has been providing training to health educators, physicians, nurses, behavioral health and other allied health staff since 2012. Currently, Kate is training students and faculty in heath professions at several institutes of higher-education across the state, working to ensure that substance use prevention and intervention is an integral component of emerging systems of care. Prior to coming to UConn Health, Kate worked as a social worker providing intensive case management for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and living with a severe mental and/or substance use disorder. She holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Connecticut and is certified in Motivational Interviewing and Mental Health First Aid. Kate has worked on several World Health Organization projects related to the hazardous and harmful alcohol use and has special interests in addiction/substance abuse prevention, industry CSR activities, industry involvement in alcohol science, and the impact of these activities on public health. She has presented numerous papers at international meetings and has published journal articles, reports and book chapters on these topics. Kate is a member of the Delta Omega, the Honorary Society in Public Health (Beta Rho chapter).

Robin Odell

Robin Odell

Follow-up Specialist

Robin has been with UConn Health for over 18 years where she has developed extensive experience working as a Health Educator on many federally funded research projects. Her expertise lies mainly in providing SBI services for at-risk behaviors including smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use. She has a knack for locating patients and completing program assessment protocols. She currently serves as the Follow-up Specialist for the CT SBIRT Program and is a valuable resource for the Training Institute.