Executive Leadership Council

Ricky N. Bluthenthal, PhD

IAS Director of Community Engagement and Health Equity, Keck School of Medicine

Terry Church, DRSc, MA, MS

IAS Director of Education, USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

John Clapp, PhD

Center Co-Director Emeritus Director of Social  & Population Science, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Daryl Davies, PhD

IAS Director of Basic Translational Science, USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Adam M. Leventhal, PhD

IAS Executive Director

Loba Ojo, MBA

IAS Chief Financial Administration Officer

Eric Pedersen, PhD

IAS Director of Social Behavioral Research

Vickie Williams, MPH

IAS Chief Programs and Communications Officer

IAS Staff

Jillian Boelke, LMFT

Education and Program Implementation Coordinator

Nikhita Datar

Student Assistant

Katelyn S. Jimenez

Administrative Assistant

April Norambuena

Administrative Project Specialist

Student Assistants

Lianna Treitler

Student Liaison

Ricky N. Bluthenthal


Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean for Social Justice and a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Institute for Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. Dr. Bluthenthal received a BA in History and Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz and a PhD in sociology from the University of California Berkeley. His research has established the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs, tested novel interventions and strategies to reduce HIV risk and improve HIV testing among injection drug users and men who have sex with men, documented how community conditions contribute to health disparities, and examined health policy implementation. Dr. Bluthenthal’s current studies include an observational cohort study of how cannabis legalization impacts use patterns and health outcomes of cannabis and opioids among people who inject drugs and a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of a single session intervention to reduce injection initiation risk behaviors among established people who inject drugs. Dr. Bluthenthal has authored or co-authored over 160 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, The Lancet, Addiction, and Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research among others.

Terry Church


Dr. Terry David Church is currently an Assistant Professor in Regulatory and Quality Sciences at the University of Southern California, School of Pharmacy.  He is Assistant Director of Pharmacy Undergraduate Programs and teaches in the Pharmacy Undergraduate Program.  Prof. Church’s academic focus is on application of pharmaceutical regulations, patterns of addiction, disaster management, and education and training. His areas of interest and expertise include history and geography of drugs, biorepository regulation and ethics; drug addiction and regulation of controlled substances; regulatory practices for continuity and disaster planning; and policies and ethics of academic research.

Dr. Church received his Doctor of Science and Master of Science in Regulatory Sciences from the University of Southern California.  He earned a Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Temple University.  His doctoral thesis evaluated regulatory practices for continuity and disaster planning for biobanks in the United States.  Dr. Church is a faculty fellow of the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching and Associate Director of the Education and Training Consortium of the Institute for Addiction Sciences.  He serves as Co-Director of the STAR science educational program with BRAVO Medical Magnet High School of Los Angeles and USC.

After receiving his Master’s degree from Temple, Dr. Church worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Human Research as the Operations Director for research.  He initially worked to help implement human subjects research protections and monitor all clinical trial activity ongoing and planned.  He then took a position at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center as Program Manager.  He was responsible for all research, clinical, and community activities for Women’s Cancers, Translational Cancer Research, and Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers.  For well over ten years, Dr. Church managed the operation and development of Investigator Initiated Trials.

John Clapp


John D. Clapp, Ph.D. is currently Professor of Social Work and Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Clapp’s research focuses on alcohol use and the prevention of acute alcohol-related problems.  He has been Principal Investigator on over 20 funded (over $30,000,000 in funding) research projects from a variety of funders including the National Institutes of Health, The Conrad Hilton Foundation, The U.S. Department of Education, and numerous state governments. With over 100 publications, his work has appeared in numerous top research journals including Addiction, Journal of Alcohol and Drug Studies, and Plos 1.  Over the course of his career Dr. Clapp has held several administrative positions including center director, associate dean of research, executive vice dean, and interim dean. He was the 2018 Research Laureate for the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB). Dr. Clapp is also currently a Fellow in AAHB and the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Daryl Davies


Daryl L. Davies, PhD is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and a Professor in the Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. In his capacity of Associate Dean, Dr. Davies is responsible for the ongoing development and management of the School’s undergraduate Major: “Pharmacology and Drug Development,” as well as the Minor: “Science and Management of Biomedical Therapeutics.” Dr. Davies is also the Director of the MS program in Management of Drug Development (Dept of Regulatory and Quality Sciences) at the School of Pharmacy and undergraduate faculty adviser for the School of Pharmacy Trojan Admission Pre-Pharmacy (TAP) Program. Additionally, Dr. Davies leads a research team at USC where his laboratory is working to discover and develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and alcoholism. He is considered a pioneer by his peers in the field of purinergic receptors and their role in CNS regulation of alcohol-induced changes in alcohol intake and signaling. Dr. Davies is a firm believer in using an interdisciplinary approach. To this end, his group works with a team of collaborators which use a combination of pharmacological, toxicological, electrophysiological, molecular, computational chemistry, molecular modeling and regulatory expertise to discover and develop new drugs.

Adam M. Leventhal


Adam Leventhal, Ph.D., Professor within the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), is a clinical psychologist, public health scientist, and academic administrator with a focus on advancing science, practice, and policies related to addiction. He is Founding Director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science, which supports transdisciplinary collaborative addiction research and education, including over 80 faculty members across 10 schools within the university.  Having been awarded more than $40M in grant funding from the NIH and other agencies, his current areas of research interest are: (1) adolescent and young adult substance use epidemiology; (2) addiction among populations with mental illness, from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds, and socioeconomic disadvantage; (3) science to inform public policies for regulating tobacco and other addictive consumer products; and (4) cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention. Dr. Leventhal has authored over 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles, including publications in JAMANew England Journal of Medicine, and other journals.  His work has been covered the Associated Press, NBC Nightly News, New York Times, and other media outlets.  Dr. Leventhal has served on committees and panels to inform federal policies and guidelines addressing tobacco products for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the US Surgeon General. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior and American Psychological Association and recipient of awards for contributions to addiction science, psychology, and mentoring. His personal interests include running, playing guitar, watching football, and spending time with friends and family.

Loba Ojo


Loba received a BA in Psychology and an MBA from the University of Montana and went on to become certified as a Nonprofit Professional as he spent his early years in program planning for local child and family service organizations. After moving to California with his 2 daughters, he leveraged his experience into practical by joining RAND Corporation as a financial planning analyst and then a Research Financial Administration Manager.  As the financial lead on the operations team in the International Division, he supported 4 policy centers and was instrumental in establishing fellowships and endowed chairs, funding research projects that addressed public policy issues (such as fentanyl trafficking in Asia), and planning the use of resources for division strategy.  He also spent some time at California Institute of Technology as the business manager in their Strategic Communications Office, where he was responsible for administrative oversight and financial planning for 5 Communications depts.  As Chief Finance and Administration Officer at IAS, he is the administrative lead on financial concerns impacting operational strategy. On a personal note, he enjoys exercising, keeping current with business and political news, exploring new opportunities, and most of all, being a father.

Eric Pedersen


Dr. Pedersen is an associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Keck School of Medicine at USC and an adjunct behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research interests are primarily in the areas of young adult/adolescent alcohol use and co-occurring mental health disorders. Dr. Pedersen has received funding to develop brief, online interventions to reduce alcohol misuse among young adult populations such as college students and recently discharged veterans. He is interested in finding ways to target comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and substance use disorders among young adults, as well as in using internet-based methods to help reduce alcohol misuse and promote treatment engagement among non-treatment-seeking young adults. He is also serving as the director of Project ALERT, which is a school-based drug prevention program for middle school youth developed at RAND. Dr. Pedersen received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Washington in 2012.

Vickie Williams


Vickie Williams received her M.P.H. with emphasis in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from Cal State Long Beach after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a B.S. in Health Science. She began her public health career in tobacco prevention in Orange County, then worked as a Research Study Coordinator for 8 years at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research. There, she focused on the psychosocial needs of young breast cancer survivors, developing and implementing several research studies on long term effects of treatment and quality of life outcomes. She also collaborated with the UCLA Psychology department on research with metastatic breast cancer patients. Vickie began her time with USC as a Study Coordinator at HEAL, working on cohort of young adults on vaping nicotine and involving young adults and vaping–exploring trends, attitudes, beliefs, marketing impact, and implications on nicotine and cannabis use and addiction. She became the Chief Programs and Communications Officer at IAS in early 2021. As a mother of two, in what free time she has, Vickie enjoys spending it outside hiking and mountain biking in the spring/summer or snowboarding in the winter and she reserves all Sundays between September and early February for football.

Jillian Boelke


Jillian Boelke received a BA in Psychology at UC San Diego and a Masters in Clinical Psychology, Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy, at Pepperdine University. She began her career in clinical mental health administration, working as a Clinical Operations Manager at an addiction/dual diagnosis intensive outpatient treatment program (IOP). Jillian received psychotherapy training at The Women’s Clinic, a community mental health clinic, where she provided individual therapy for clients of diverse backgrounds. Jillian continued community focused care at The UCLA Rape Treatment Center’s Prevention and Education Program where she educated high school students throughout the Los Angeles area on the topic of sexual assault, consent, and rape culture. Jillian has also provided therapy to individuals and couples in private practice. Her areas of focus include trauma, LGBTQIA+ and gender identity, body image, perfectionism, and relationships. Jillian is passionate about prevention and addressing the root causes of mental health issues including social injustice and inequity. Outside of work, Jillian enjoys drumming, roller skating, taking care of her plants, and spending time with her pets.

Nikhita Datar


Nikhita Datar is currently a third-year student at the University of Southern California pursuing a B.S. in Pharmacology and Drug Development and an M.S. in Management of Drug Development from the USC Alfred E. Mann School of Pharmacy. At USC, alongside being a Student Research Assistant at IAS, Nikhita is a Renaissance Scholar, Asian Pacific Alumni Association Scholar, recipient of the Drug Development scholarship, a research fellow at the Korean Studies Institute, and a residential assistant. She is also a student researcher in the School of Pharmacy for Trojan CALM, Cortisol Assessment Laboratory Measurement, an IRB-approved research study that explores cortisol hormones to understand how stress experienced mentally may correlate physiologically. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Nikhita loves the snow, watching movies, spending time with her dog, and trying matcha at cafes all throughout LA.

Katelyn S. Jimenez


Katelyn S. Jimenez is a Cum Laude graduate from Cal State University, Los Angeles. She received her BA in Communications with an emphasis in Mass Communications along with two minors in Social Media and Entertainment Marketing. Katelyn has interned and volunteered with the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Scooter Braun Projects, College Track, and Power California during her time in undergrad. Her interest in communications stems from her desire to help solve human communication problems by providing a perspective people don’t often receive from people & womxn of color. She is an active alumnus to College Track & current member to COOP where she gains digital marketing skills. Katelyn is now continuing her education at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism where she will be pursuing her M.A. in Public Relations and Advertising. As a first generation Latinx/a, Katelyn actively seeks career and education opportunities to better her future and pave a path for herself, her family, and Boyle Heights community. In her spare time, Katelyn loves dancing, going to the beach, and spending time with her siblings.

April Norambuena


April Norambuena a Southern California Native, returned to Los Angeles after living in Dallas, TX for 13 years. She began her career in academia in 2003 at the University of California Los Angeles, where she began as an Administrative Assistant to then be promoted to a Program Coordinator. When life took her to Texas and she chose to continue her career with academia and began working for The University of Texas at Dallas, Center for Vital Longevity, where she helped launch the new center. After 6 years and achieving many goals with the team at Vital Longevity, she decided to switch over the University of Texas Southwestern. During this time, she attended Northlake College to support her career and pursue a degree in psychology. After working at UTSW for 6 years she chose to move back to California and was fortunate to be hired to work with Dr. Adam Leventhal and the Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory and the Institute for Addiction Science. April has a daughter and grandson in Dallas whom she loves to visit as often as possible.

Lianna Treitler


Lianna is a current senior from San Diego California. She is graduating with a B.A. in psychology and a double minor in Legal Studies and Addiction Science. She plans on attending law school after graduation and hopefully intertwining my passions for addiction prevention/cessation and law. Her dream would be to work in policy or to advocate for better rehabilitation programs within the justice system.