SIG conducts rigorous research, employing novel intervention approaches to address co-occurring problems using state-of-the-art research designs and analytic methods. SIG’s research areas of interest include HIV, criminal justice, sexual minorities, intimate partner violence (IPV), and substance use.

In addition to conducting research projects in New York City, SIG’s reach extends globally. In collaboration with the Global Health Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA), SIG leadership helps facilitate ongoing research projects in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Additionally, SIG conducts research in Mayalsia and Zambia. SIG’s most recent global work includes India, Turkey, Jordan, and Syria through the new ASPIRE partnership.
SIG and its affiliates are currently conducting research in the United States, Central Asia, Malaysia, Zambia, Turkey, Jordan, and Syria.

SIG is also part of the Community Collaborative Research Network (CCRN), a partnership between SIG, community corrections personnel, social service agencies, and justice-involved community members. The CCRN was formed to strengthen community-researcher collaborations and shape evidence-based, sustainable solutions—and the research behind them—to address HIV, violence, substance use, mental health, and other co-occurring issues.

Featured Research


Project Name Summary PI

2016 – Ongoing

PGIF / Incite

Advancing Solutions in Policy, Implementation, Research, and Engagement for Refugees. ASPIRE is a multidisciplinary program of activities at Columbia University dedicated to innovative approaches and responses to the Syrian Refugee crisis. Nabila El-Bassel

2015 – 2020


Improving HIV Service Delivery for People who Inject Drugs in Kazakhstan. Implementation research of a peer driven HIV testing and linkage to HIV treatment intervention that will be implemented in 24 NGOs in 4 cities in Kazakhstan.

Read a BRIDGE training update.

Nabila El-Bassel, Louisa Gilbert

High Impact Prevention (HIP)

2015 – 2016

CDC and Danya, Inc

Couples-Based HIV/STI Prevention for African American MSM, Transgender and HIV discordant couples. Dissemination project of couples-based HIV prevention with men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender and HIV discordant couples. Timothy Hunt
Connect ‘N Unite (CNU)

2011 – 2018


Couples-based HIV/STI preventive intervention for illicit drug-involved men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City. Elwin Wu
Criminal Justice Initiative

2009 – Present

The Criminal Justice Initiative: Supporting Children, Families and Communities (CJI) addresses the societal impacts of the unprecedented numbers of people incarcerated during the past three decades, many of whom also face significant challenges upon returning home. Read more. Nabila El-Bassel

2014 – 2019


A Multimedia HIV/STI Intervention for Black Drug-Involved Women on Probation in New York City. Randomized clinical trial testing the efficacy of a multimedia intervention and streamlined HIV testing to prevent HIV and other STIs. Nabila El-Bassel
Global Health and Mental Health Unit (GHMH) Promotes research, training and education activities related to health and mental health globally.
Includes the Zambia pilot, a quantitative study examining trauma, mental health, substance use and HIV risk among truck drivers in Zambia.
Read more about the project in an update here.
Lynn Michalopoulos
Internet Banging

2014 – Ongoing

Human centered approaches to detection, prevention and mitigation of urban-based violence on social media. Qualitative and social media content-analysis study of violence and trauma on various social  media platforms. Learn about continuing research in this area at the SafeLab. Desmond Patton
LAtino Sleep & Health Study (LASH)

2015 – 2020


Identifying Novel Behavioral Targets for Improving Sleep: A Self-Regulation Model. Observational community study aims to examine whether sleep is associated with self-regulation in Latino adults, and if this association is the same across socioeconomic status (SES) groups. Carmela Alcantara

2014 – 2019


Evaluating a Microfinance Intervention for High Risk Women in Kazakhstan. Nabila El-Bassel, Susan Witte

2012 – 2017


Couples STI/HIV Prevention for Drug Involved Male Offenders in New York City. Randomized clinical trial testing the implementation, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of a couple-based HIV and drug abuse prevention intervention with drug-involved male offenders. Nabila El-Bassel

2016 – 2021


Increasing Involvement of MSM in the Continuum of Care in Kazakhstan. Stepped-Wedge trial in 3 cities in Kazakhstan (Almaty, Astana, and Shymkent) testing the efficacy of peer-driven intervention designed to increase the number of MSM in the HIV continuum of care.

Read about UNI’s launch here.

Elwin Wu

2011 – 2013


A computerized service tool to address partner abuse among women in drug court. Development and pilot randomized clinical trial testing a self-paced computerized multimedia tool on identification of victimization from intimate partner violence (IPV) and on utilization of IPV-related services.

Read more about the project in an update here.

Louisa Gilbert, Dawn Goddard-Eckrich
WORTH Transitions

2016 – 2019


Multimedia HIV/STI Prevention for Drug-Involved Female Offenders. Randomized multi-site, implementation trial testing the efficacy of a risk reduction, trauma informed, intervention for drug-involved, incarcerated women being released and linked to health care clinic follow-up. Timothy Hunt

Research Training Programs


2007 – 2017


HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators. Mentoring and training program aimed at developing a cadre of underrepresented scientists dedicated to researching HIV-related health disparities & co-occurring mental health disorders. Nabila El-Bassel, Elwin Wu

2014 – 2019


HIV Substance Use in the Criminal Justice System. Research training program on HIV, substance use, and criminal justice. Nabila El-Bassel and Lisa Metsch

Additional SIG research



2012 – 2013



Overdose prevention with IDUs in Central Asia. A dissemination study examining capacity building and adoption of peer administered Naloxone for opioid overdose in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.

Timothy Hunt

2006 – 2011


Service Use, ATI Program Outcomes, and Pro-Social Change. Longitudinal study examining service utilization among men and women attending Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) programs. Elwin Wu
Bridges to Better Health and Wellness

2011 – 2016


Evaluating a health care manager program at an outpatient  clinic for Hispanics with serious mental illness. Pilot study testing the feasibility and acceptability of a 12-month health care manager program in improving the physical health of Hispanic adults with serious mental illness who are at risk for cardiovascular disease. Leo Cabassa, Ana Stefancic

2013 – 2015


Tuberculosis study will examine individual, social, and structural risk factors impacting migrants in four Central Asian countries. In partnership with the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA). Nabila El-Bassel, Neil Schluger

1996 – 2000


HIV Prevention with Minority Women and Their Male Sex Partners. HIV/STI prevention intervention for couples. Louisa Gilbert

2004 – 2009


Couples STI/HIV Prevention for Drug Treatment Clients. HIV/STI prevention intervention among drug-involved couples. Louisa Gilbert
CONNECT with Pride

2006 – 2009


Novel HIV/STI Preventive Intervention for African American Men Who Have Sex With Men (with at least one partner using methamphetamines). Couples-based HIV/STI preventive intervention for men who have sex with men (MSM). Elwin Wu
Cultural adaptation study

2015 – 2016


Cultural Adaptation of an Online Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Insomnia for Hispanic Primary Care Patients. This formative, qualitative study utilizes a cultural adaptation stages model to adapt an interactive online evidence-based program of CBT-I for Spanish speaking Hispanic primary care patients. Carmela Alcantara

2001 – 2008


HIV/STI Risk Reduction for HIV discordant African American Couples. Couples/ group HIV/STI preventive intervention to reduce sexually risky behaviors. Louisa Gilbert

2011 – 2012


Improving Social Work Practice in Central Asia. Qualitative study and curriculum development for 3 Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. Timothy Hunt
Marketplace/ Silk Road Study

2007 – 2012


HIV/STI Risks Among Migrant Market Workers in Kazakhstan. Qualitative and quantitative study examining sexual risk behavior and migration in Central Asia. Louisa Gilbert
Multimedia Connect

2007 – 2012


Using Multimedia Technologies to Disseminate an HIV Prevention Program for Couples. Dissemination study of a traditional vs. multimedia version of a couples-based HIV/STI prevention intervention called “Connect.” Nabila El-Bassel, Susan Witte
Multimedia WORTH

2009 – 2014


WORTH Publications

Multimedia HIV/STI Prevention for Drug-Involved Female Offenders. Randomized clinical trial testing the efficacy of a risk reduction intervention for drug-involved, criminal justice-involved women.

Worth MM Procedural Manual  (contact us for the most recent edition)

Nabila El-Bassel
Peer-Led Healthy Lifestyle

2014 – 2019


Evaluating a Peer-Led Healthy Lifestyle Program in Supportive Housing Agencies for Persons with Serious Mental Illness. Hybrid randomized clinical trial studying the implementation and effectiveness of a peer-led intervention designed to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce health disparities in minority populations. Leo Cabassa, Ana Stefancic

2011 – 2012

Pilot Research Investigation on MSM Estimation. Demographic study designed to estimate the size of the population of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kazakhstan. Elwin Wu
Project Reach

2000 – 2004


Partner Abuse and HIV Among Women Receiving Emergency Care. Longitudinal study examining the relationship among drug abuse, HIV, and IPV. Louisa Gilbert
Project START-UP

2013 – 2014


Quality of life assessment for women living with HIV in Kazakhstan. Survey of women living with HIV in Kazakhstan  to assess quality of life, social and medical service needs, and level of stigma and discrimination. Timothy Hunt

2008 – 2013


Couples HIV/STI Prevention in Kazakhstan. Randomized clinical trial to test the efficacy of an intervention for drug-involved couples in Kazakhstan.

Read an update about Project Renaissance here.

Louisa Gilbert

2002 – 2005


Service Use by Men on Methadone Committing Partner Abuse. Cross-sectional study examining service utilization among men on methadone who have perpetrated IPV. Elwin Wu
The Men’s Health Project

1999 – 2003


HIV Risks and Partner Violence: Men on Methadone. Longitudinal study examining the relationships among drug abuse, HIV, and IPV. Louisa Gilbert
The Women’s Health Project

1997 – 2001


Partner Abuse–Minority Women on Methadone. Longitudinal study examining the relationships among drug abuse, HIV, and IPV. Louisa Gilbert
Waves Cross-sectional epidemiological study with Drug-involved Malaysian fisherman. Quantitative study to assess HIV and injecting drug use prevalence and determinants of HIV risks among fishermen in Kuantan, Malaysia. Nabila El-Bassel, Louisa Gilbert, Elwin Wu



Test of the Women Initiating New Goals for Safety (WINGS) intervention to increase the identification of intimate partner violence (IPV) and gender-based violence (GBV), and improve outreach . Pilot study of a screening, brief intervention and referral service to address gender-based violence and intimate partner violence. Implementation research of intervention with 12 harm reduction and sex work NGOs. Louisa Gilbert, Timothy Hunt
Peer Specialists study Examining the Added Value of Peer Specialists in Delivering Health Interventions. Qualitative study to identify key factors and mechanisms that underlie the added value of using peer specialists to deliver a healthy lifestyle intervention to people with SMI. Leo Cabassa, Ana Stefancic




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