Welcome: Drs. Brooke West and Alissa Davis

We are pleased to welcome two new faculty members to the Social Intervention Group (SIG): Drs. Brooke West and Alissa Davis. The Director of SIG, Dr. Nabila El-Bassel, extends a warm welcome:

“We are looking forward to their leadership roles at SIG and having them as members of the SIG family.”

Read more about Dr. West and Dr. Davis below.

Dr. Brooke West

Dr. Brooke West

Dr. West on her research background: “Utilizing mixed method, network, and intervention approaches, my research focuses on the social, economic, physical and policy factors underlying disparities in health among marginalized and criminalized populations. My scholarship is situated at the intersection of social justice and health, centering primarily on the social determinants of substance use and HIV/STI, with newer work examining violence exposure and reproductive health.

Given these interests, and the innovative work going on at SIG and CSSW, I am very excited to join the Columbia community and to build collaborations with both faculty and students.”


Dr. West is an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work and a medical sociologist with over a decade of experience examining the social, economic, physical and policy factors underlying inequities in health among marginalized and criminalized populations, both globally and domestically.

Utilizing mixed method, network, and intervention approaches, her research is situated at the intersection of social science and public health, centering primarily on the social determinants of HIV/STI and substance use, as well as reproductive health and violence exposure. Specifically, her work has examined the conditions in which health risks occur, making contributions to the health of substance-using populations, women in sex work, and other stigmatized groups.

Dr. West’s use of innovative methodologies is exemplified by her current work as PI on a NIDA K01 Career Development Award (K01DA041233). This project examines the intersection of venue-based risk and networks for substance-using women in Tijuana, Mexico. In this study, she combines information on the social and built environment of venues (e.g., type, policies, safety) where sex and drug use occur, with data on venue network affiliations (i.e., individuals’ network connections to multiple venues), to elucidate the sociostructural drivers of substance use, exposure to community violence and HIV/STI transmission. The integration of place-based and network methods, both of which have wide applicability for addressing health disparities in urban settings, will inform the development of targeted high impact interventions that reshape environments to create safer spaces.

Dr. West has also conducted research on risk environments for injection drug using Malaysian fishermen, changes over time in the HIV epidemic among injection drug users in 96 of the largest US cities, and the social determinants of substance use and HIV with female sex workers in India and migrant marketplace workers in Kazakhstan. Currently, West also collaborates with an international NGO to evaluate a provider-based family planning and abortion program in Kenya and South Africa, to evaluate a sexual health social media campaign in the US, and is developing a new project with the NGO to pilot a family planning commodities supply chain management app for private sector providers in Zambia.

Dr. Alissa Davis

Dr. Alissa Davis

Dr. Alissa Davis conducts research on linkage to and retention in HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STI), and substance use care among marginalized populations, including racial/ethnic and sexual minorities, people who inject drugs, and individuals involved with the criminal justice system. Dr. Davis has been awarded a K01 research grant by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to adapt a couple-based medication adherence intervention for HIV-positive people who inject drugs in Kazakhstan.

Prior to her current position, Dr. Davis was an NIH T32 postdoctoral research fellow at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. During her time as postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Davis worked extensively on a number of studies in New York City and Central Asia with researchers at SIG and the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia.

Dr. Davis is delighted to continue working with SIG and CSSW as a faculty member.

“I am excited to continue working with colleagues who are committed to addressing health disparities and improving the lives of marginalized populations. I am deeply impressed by SIG’s and CSSW’s dedication to conducting rigorous and impactful research on key social justice issues. I look forward to contributing to research that will alleviate health disparities and improve the lives of vulnerable individuals who have traditionally been relegated to the fringes of society.”

Dr. Davis received her PhD in Epidemiology from Indiana University-Bloomington and her MA in International Relations from Syracuse University.