Current LEAD Program Scholars

First-Year Scholars


Rick Cruz, PhD

Dr. Cruz is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. His primary research focus is in longitudinally examining cultural and familial influences on Mexican-origin youth substance use and he is investigating “Mexican-origin Youth Substance Use Development: Cultural, Familiar and Individual Influences” in the capacity of PI under an NIH award. He is also serving as PI for a Varda Shoham Clinical Scientist Training Initiative Grant from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology to implement a web-based outcome monitoring system to improving training in clinical practice and research. His pilot study for the LEAD Program aims to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing the Family Check Up (FCU) and family management interventions in community mental health agencies for Latino families for improving outcomes related to youth problem behavior and substance use risk. He also aims to identify and address components of the FCU that may benefit from cultural adaptation for this population. Dr. Cruz completed his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington.


Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD

Presently, Dr. Jordan is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, where she completed a General Adult Psychiatry Residency in June 2015. Her research focuses on increasing education and access to mental health and addiction services among underserved populations. Dr. Jordan’s pilot study for the LEAD Program, “The use of the Black Church to improve treatment access for Blacks with SUD” aims to assess the willingness of Blacks with substance use disorders (BSD) to accept help for substance abuse problems within the Black church setting; to understand attitudes and barriers in accessing treatment among BSD; and to determine if any specific spiritual and/or religious practices would be helpful in increasing engagement with CBT4CBT . Dr. Jordan is a graduate of the NIH Medical Scientist Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she received doctoral degrees in Medicine and Immunopathology

St. Helen

Gideon St. Helen, PhD

Dr. St. Helen is currently an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at UCSF. His pilot study for the LEAD Program aims to assess vaping topography and patterns of use in experience-exclusive e-cigarettes users and dual e-cigarettes/tobacco cigarettes users using an advanced, second generation device. This study will take place in a naturalistic setting over 7 days, with participants using a modified e-cigarette device to measure puff duration, puff velocity, number of puffs, and interpuff interval. Recently, Dr. St. Helen has been involved in a student research grant, studying biomarkers of secondhand smoke exposure outside restaurants and bars in downtown Athens, GA. He was project leader for a NCI grant to examine pharmacokinetics of nicotine and effects among e-cigarette users. He also completed a TRDRP study as PI assessing the effects of nicotine dependence and metabolism on smoke intake among African American light smokers. Dr. St. Helen received his PhD in Toxicology from the University of Georgia and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF.


Tamika Zapolski, PhD

Dr. Zapolski holds a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. Dr. Zapolski’s research primary focuses on identifying risk factors and development interventions to address substance use disorders and risk behaviors among African American youth. She served as the PI in an NIH KL2 award investigating the “Use of modified DBT-A in reducing risk-taking behaviors among adolescents. Dr. Zapolski’s pilot study for the LEAD Program aims to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a 9-week modified Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents (DBT-A) intervention for reducing drug use and risk behavior engagement within an urban public high school in Indianapolis. Additionally, her study would identify the social and cultural factors associated with the study outcomes. Dr. Zapolski received a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY.

Second-Year Scholars


Sabrina Assoumou, MD, MPH

Dr. Assoumou is an Instructor of Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine where she conducts research on co-occurring HIV and hepatitis C among illicit opioid users. A current research interest is improving outcomes in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and/or hepatitis C (HCV) using comparative and cost-effectiveness analyses. Dr. Assoumou received her MPH at the Harvard University School of Public Health, where she emphasized clinical effectiveness research, and received her MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She trained at the combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency at Brown University, and completed an infectious diseases fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University.


Kara Bagot, MD

Dr. Bagot is a Clinical Fellow and Chief Resident at the Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine where she focuses on the prevention and treatment of cannabis use disorders among adolescents. Dr. Bagot was awarded a highly competitive resident research award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to fund her research investigating smoking cessation in adolescents. Dr. Bagot received her MD from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Medicine.


Pilar Sanjuan, PhD

Dr. Sanjuan is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico where she focuses on the co-occurrence of substance use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder, particularly in the two populations of pregnant women and women involved in the criminal justice system. Dr. Sanjuan’s research has included neurocognitive and genetic correlates of emotion regulation in individuals with co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorders. Dr. Sanjuan received her PhD in clinical psychology from Rutgers University and completed her internship at the Southwest Consortium Predoctoral Psychology Internship in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She completed a NIAAA postdoctoral fellowship at the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addiction at the University of New Mexico.

Past LEAD Scholars


Jemima Frimpong, PhD, MPH

Dr. Frimpong is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where she focuses on strategies to increase hepatitis C and HIV testing and treatment. Dr. Frimpong’s pilot study for the LEAD Program is entitled, "Feasibility Testing of an mHealth HIV Primary Care Engagement Intervention." For her pilot study, she will develop a text-messaging mobile phone intervention to increase engagement in HIV primary care among methadone maintenance patients with HIV. Dr. Frimpong received her MPH from the University of Arizona, where she emphasized health administration and policy. She received her PhD in management science and applied economics with an additional emphasis in health services research from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.


LaTrice Montgomery, PhD

Dr. Montgomery is an Assistant Professor in the Counseling and Substance Abuse Counseling Program in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati. During her graduate school studies, Dr. Montgomery focused on racial/ethnic minority differences in motivational interviewing treatment outcomes in multi-site clinical trials of the NIDA Clinical Trials Network. Dr. Montgomery’s pilot study for the LEAD Program is entitled "Co-occurring Marijuana and Tobacco Use Among African American Young Adults." For her project, she will examine patterns of marijuana and tobacco co-use, and design and pilot test a culturally informed single session computer-based motivational interviewing intervention to increase engagement in substance abuse treatment. Dr. Montgomery received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Cincinnati, and completed her predoctoral internship at the Yale University School of Medicine.