Our Leadership

Adam M. Leventhal, PhD


Adam Leventhal, Ph.D., Professor of Preventive Medicine and Psychology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, is an addiction psychologist and public health scientist. In addition to his role as Founding Director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science, Dr. Leventhal is the Founding Director of the USC Health, Emotion, & Addiction Laboratory (USC-HEAL; heal.usc.edu), a group of six faculty investigators and 30 staff and trainees who study the causes, consequences, treatment, and prevention of addiction and mental illness across the lifespan. Having been awarded more than $40M in grant funding from the NIH and other agencies, USC-HEAL’s current areas of focus are: (1) adolescent and young adult use of tobacco, cannabis, and opioids; (2) the co-occurrence of addiction and mental illness; (3) the development of new medications to promote smoking cessation; (4) science to inform public policies for regulating tobacco and other addictive consumer products; and (5) cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention. 

Dr. Leventhal has authored over 200 peer-reviewed scientific articles, including publications in JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, and other journals. His work has been covered by the Associated Press, NBC Nightly News, New York Times, and other media outlets. Dr. Leventhal is active in policy arenas, having served on expert panels on the health effects of e-cigarettes and tobacco products for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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 early and mid-career contributions to science and mentoring. His personal interests include running, playing guitar, watching football, and spending time with friends and family.

Ricky N. Bluthenthal, PhD

Associate director of community

engagement and health equity

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.

John D. Clapp, PhD

Associate director

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 L. Davies, PhD

Associate Director

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.

Vickie Williams, MPH, CHES


Vickie Williams, MPH, CHES 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 Study Coordinator for 8 years at UCLA’s 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 research studies on long term effects and quality of life. She also collaborated with the UCLA Psychology department on a study with metastatic breast cancer patients. Vickie began her time with USC as a Study Coordinator at HEAL, working on cohort studies involving young adults and vaping–exploring trends, attitudes, beliefs, marketing impact, and implications on nicotine and cannabis use and addiction. She became the Chief Operations and Communications Officer at IAS in early 2021. As a mother of two, in what  free time she has, Vickie enjoys spending time 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.

Loba Ojo

CHIEF Financial Administrative Officer

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 application 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.

Steering Committee

Jessica L. Barrington-Trimis, PhD, Assistant Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences, USC Keck School of Medicine

Alice Cepeda, PhD, Associate Professor, USC Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Terry David Church, DRSc, MA, MS, Assistant Professor of Regulatory and Quality Sciences, USC School of Pharmacy

Jungeun Olivia Lee, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, USC Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Jennifer Lewis, PhD, LCSW, Clinical Associate Professor,USC Dwora-Peck School of Social Work

Rosalie Liccardo-Pacula, PhD, Full Professor and the Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Health Policy, Economics & Law, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics

John Monterosso, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences

Eric Pedersen, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences, USC Keck School of Medicine