Center for Innovation in Behavioral Health Education & Research
The Center for Innovation in Behavioral Health Education & Research at Simmons University (CIBER) is a hub of innovation in training and research in health care, technology, and substance use that aims to serve urban and rural communities by increasing access to high-quality, evidence-informed care.
About the Center for Innovation in Behavioral Health Education & Research
CIBER focuses on education, research, and innovation in behavioral health, informed by the values of the social work profession and the faculty expertise within the Simmons University School of Social Work (SSW), a distinguished national leader in providing education for the next generation of clinical social workers. The Center builds upon this eminent history and focuses on innovation in three main areas: substance use education and research, with a particular focus on vulnerable and underserved populations; technology, including patient simulation and telebehavioral health; and behavioral health workforce development in the emerging model of integrated primary care and behavioral health in urban and rural areas.
Consistent with the mission of the SSW, a commitment to advancing social justice is a key thread that will run through each area. Populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, underserved rural communities, and maltreated children are disproportionately and adversely impacted by health inequity, including unequal rates of substance use and substance-related mortality. Incumbent upon any institution founded in social work values is the responsibility to challenge multiple layers of oppression that result in such disparate trends. Through CIBER, we envision joining the values of social work with evidence-based research and technology innovation to challenge inequalities and to guide the ethical provision of substance use services to high-need populations.
Jennifer Putney, PhD, LICSW, Associate Professor at Simmons School of Social Work
Professor Putney serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Innovation in Behavioral Health Education and Research at Simmons. Dr. Putney is currently the Principal Investigator of three federally-funded training grants and has successfully overseen the completion of two additional training grants funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Dr. Putney brings 15 years of clinical experience and 10 years of teaching experience to her research. Her clinical expertise has focused on treating individuals with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, with a particular focus on the needs of LGBTQ populations. Her research has focused on the behavioral health needs of gender and sexual minorities over the lifespan. Dr. Putney has a keen interest in developing and evaluating teaching methods, especially the development and evaluation of simulation in social work education.
Melinda Gushwa, PhD, LICSW, Associate Professor and Director of the Simmons School of Social Work
Professor Gushwa serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Innovation in Behavioral Health Education and Research at Simmons. Dr. Gushwa is currently the Principal Investigator of the Simmons Trauma Education Project, funded by the Boston Children's Hospital Collaboration for Community Health. Dr. Gushwa has more than 30 years of practice experience in the areas of child welfare, pediatric medical social work with an emphasis on child protection, child welfare training, clinical therapy and supervision. She has been teaching in higher education for 20 years. Her research has focused on child maltreatment fatalities, child sexual abuse prevention, interprofessional education and simulations in social work education. Dr. Gushwa is devoted to workforce development and bringing state of the art behavioral health treatment to client populations that need them most.
CIBER Affiliated Faculty
Suzanne Sankar, MSW
Professor of Practice Suzanne K. Sankar, MSW, Associate Director of the Simmons School of Social Work, has worked extensively as a clinical social worker in community mental health in the Boston area. She provides critical leadership in several grant funded CIBER projects. She is also a founder of the Welcome Project, an immigrant rights and service organization in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Lydia Ogden, PhD, LICSW
Lydia Ogden, PhD, LICSW, Assistant Professor, Simmons School of Social Work is co-principal investigator on a project funded by the Boston Children's Hospital Community Health Initiative called the Simmons Trauma Education Project, which recruits and trains diverse trauma-specialized social workers who are committed to working with trauma-affected children and families in the Boston area post MSW graduation.
Tamara J. Cadet, PhD, LICSW, MPH
Tamara J. Cadet, PhD, LICSW, MPH, is an Associate Professor at Simmons University School of Social Work and has worked in the fields of substance use, adoption, mental
health, health care, schools, and oncology with children, adults, families, and older adults, as both a social worker and as a community organizer. Dr. Cadet’s research focus is to develop and implement health promotion interventions for underserved and underrepresented populations. Her work is currently funded by the National Institutes of Aging. Dr. Cadet is the evaluator on the SIMPACT Scholars Program, a specialized training program funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Kristie A. Thomas, PhD, MSW
Kristie A.Thomas, PhD, MSW, is an Associate Professor and the Director of the MSW Program at Simmons University School of Social Work. Dr. Thomas has extensive practice, teaching, evaluation, and research expertise in the field of anti-violence. She is the lead evaluator on the Simmons SSW Expansion of Substance Use Practitioner Education (ESPE) project, which will support the effort to build and modify the curriculum and train 1,030 MSW students over the 2-year project period.
Christina Sellers, PhD, LCSW
Christina Sellers, PhD, LCSW is an Assistant Professor at Simmons University in the School of Social Work, College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice (CSSPP). Dr. Sellers is the Director of Education for the HRSA-funded SIMPACT grant. She is also a researcher and licensed certified social worker. Dr. Sellers' research experience is at the intersection of substance use and suicide, developing integrated interventions for suicidal youth. Her practice experience includes delivering brief motivational interviewing interventions for suicidal adolescents with co-occurring substance use.
CIBER Visiting Scholar
Mike Langlois, LICSW
Mike Langlois, LICSW has over 25 years of experience counseling adults and families. He started out working in public school and clinical settings to advance the access of students with differing abilities and learning challenges. His work includes treating patients who use video games from a gamer-affirmative stance, and his theoretical background combines psychodynamic theory, contemporary cognitive and learning theory with cutting edge technologies. See Mike Langlois' full CV.
Center for Innovation in Behavioral Health Education & Research
- (617) 521-3868
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- 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115