Category: Academic OVC Researchers

Position: Distinguished Professor of Applied Psychology and Public Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University

Board Chair of the Institute of Human Development and Social Change at NYU

Background: Lawrence Aber is Distinguished Professor of Applied Psychology and Public Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, where he also serves as board chair of its Institute of Human Development and Social Change.  Dr. Aber earned his Ph.D. from Yale University and an A.B. from Harvard University.  He previously taught at Barnard College, Columbia University and at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where he also directed the National Center for Children in Poverty.  He is an internationally recognized expert in child development and social policy and has co-edited Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Children (1997, Russell Sage Foundation), Assessing the Impact of September 11th 2001 on Children Youth and Parents: Lessons for Applied Developmental Science (2004, Erlbaum) and Child Development and Social Policy: Knowledge for Action (2007, APA Publications).  His basic research examines the influence of poverty and violence, at the family and community levels, on the social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive and academic development of children and youth.  Dr. Aber also designs and conducts rigorous evaluations of innovative programs and policies for children, youth and families, such as violence prevention, literacy development, welfare reform and comprehensive services initiatives.  Dr. Aber testifies frequently before Congress, state legislatures and other deliberative policy forums.  The media, public officials, private foundations and leading non-profit organizations also frequently seek his opinion or advice about pressing matters concerning child and family well-being.  In 2006, Dr. Aber was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Commission for Economic Opportunity, an initiative to help reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity in New York City.  In 2007, Dr Aber served as the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In 2008 and 2009, he served part-time as Visiting Research Professor in Evidence-based Social Interventions in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Oxford.  He is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa; and serves as consultant to the World Bank on their new project, “Children and Youth in Crisis”.  From 2003-2006, Dr. Aber chaired the Advisory Board, International Research Network on Children and Armed Conflict of the Social Science Research Council, in collaboration with the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF.    Currently, he conducts research on the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on children’s development in South Africa (in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council), and on school- and community-based interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee).

Contact Information:

Phone: 212-998-5410

Boivin, Michael J.

Information from the Michigan State University Psychiatry Department:

Position: Associate Professor in Neurology & Ophthalmology and Psychiatry at Michigan State University

Background: former Fulbright research scholar to the DR Congo (1990-91) and Uganda (2003-04), Dr. Boivin presently leads R34 MH082663; Cognitive and psychosocial benefits of caregiver training in Ugandan HIV children.  He is also leading a study in Uganda on the cognitive rehabilitation of school-age Ugandan children affected by HIV (R34 MH084782, Neuropsychological Benefits of Cognitive Training in Ugandan HIV Children. He has led the neurodevelopmental assessment portions of an NIH R21 study on the neurocognitive effects of HIV subtype in Ugandan children (PI: Wong), and on a K01 study on the neurodevelopmental and factors affecting neurocognitive disability in rural Ugandan children affected by HIV (PI: Brahmbhatt).  He recently published studies in evaluating cognitive rehabilitation programs in Ugandan school-age children with HIV and those having survived cerebral malaria.  Presently he is collaborating on studies evaluating the neurcognitive effects of cerebral malaria in Malawian and in Ugandan children, as well as the developmental effects of maternal anemia in very young children in Benin.  Over the past 20 years, Dr. Boivin has pioneered the application of neuropsychological assessment in gauging the neurocognitive impact of public health risk factors and interventions in African children.

Fellowships, Panels, Publications, Research

Contact Information:


Phone: (517) 353-8122

OVC Wellbeing Content:

Neuropsychological benefits of cognitive training in Ugandan HIV children

Enhancing Ugandan HIV-affected child development with caregiver training

Cognitive and psychosocial benefit of caregiver training for Ugandan HIV children

Position: Assistant Professor of Child Health and Human Rights at Harvard University

Director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity (RPCGA)

Background: Theresa S. Betancourt is Director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity (RPCGA) and Assistant Professor of Child Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Her central research interests include:

  • the developmental and psychosocial consequences of concentrated adversity on children and families;
  • resilience and protective processes in child development;
  • child health and human rights; and
  • applied cross-cultural mental health research.

Dr. Betancourt is the Principal Investigator of an ongoing longitudinal study of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone and is currently collaborating with Partners in Health Rwanda to launch a mixed-methods study of mental health needs among HIV/AIDS-affected youth. Recently she served as the Co-PI of a randomized-controlled trial of interventions for the treatment of depression symptoms in youth displaced by war in northern Uganda.

Her prior research includes a study of the psychosocial dimensions of an emergency education program serving internally-displaced Chechen youth, an investigation of the relationship between connectedness, social support and emotional problems in Chechen IDP youth and a study of the relationship between caregiver and child mental health among Eritrean Kunama refugees living on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border. She is also collaborating with local child protection NGOs in Sierra Leone to develop a policy initiative designed to improve child welfare and social services for war-affected youth in that country.

Dr. Betancourt graduated summa cum laude in psychology from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon and holds a Master in Art Therapy from the University of Louisville. She completed her doctoral work in Maternal and Child Health with concentrations in Psychiatric Epidemiology and Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contact Information:

Bolton, Paul

Position: Associate Scientist at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Paul Bolton’s main areas of expertise are program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. His work treats all four elements as part of an integrated whole in which applied research methods play a core role. He uses this approach to conduct needs assessments and to plan and evaluate programs with service providers including major NGOs. This work has encompassed programs dealing with physical health (including infectious diseases) and more recently psychosocial problems in North America, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Much of this work has been with refugees and internally displaced persons during the disaster post-emergency phase, persons affected by violence, and other adults and children living in difficult circumstances. Dr. Bolton has also conducted program evaluations of psychosocial interventions in Africa and Asia in the form of randomized clinical trials.

Academic Degrees

  • MBBS
  • MPH


Dr. Braitstein is an Associate Research Professor at Indiana University School of Medicine (United States), a Visiting Lecturer at Moi University School of Medicine (Kenya), an Affiliated Investigator with the Regenstrief Institute of Informatics (United States), and Associate Professor (Status Only) in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.  In addition to doing her own research, she is Co-Field Director of Research for the AMPATH Consortium in Eldoret, Chief Medical Information Officer and Director of Monitoring and Evaluation for the USAID-AMPATH Partnership.


Dr. Paula Braitstein is an epidemiologist living and working in Eldoret, Kenya with Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and the USAID-Academic Model Providing Access To Healthcare (AMPATH) Partnership.  Originally from Montreal, Canada, Paula spent 13 years working in the community-based HIV/AIDS movement in Canada as an HIV treatment educator and activist.  After receiving her MA in Liberal Studies from Simon Fraser University, Paula completed both an MSc and a PhD in epidemiology from the University of British Columbia and went on to do her post-doctoral research in Bern, Switzerland working with the Antiretroviral Treatment in Lower Income Countries (ART-LINC) Collaboration conducting multi-centre observational analyses of the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment in low and middle income countries.  Paula has published widely in the peer-reviewed literature on diverse topics.  Her research foci today are concentrated on vulnerable and marginalized children in sub-Saharan Africa, including orphans, street-involved children and youth, HIV-infected and affected children, and the mental and reproductive health issues of adolescents.

Contact Information:
Moi University, Faculty of Health Sciences
P.O. Box 4806
Eldoret, Kenya 30100

(317) 630-6770

Bryant, Malcolm

Position: Clinical Associate Professor

Center for Global Health & Development at Boston University

Background: Malcolm Bryant is a public health physician with over 30 years of experience as a clinician, educator, researcher, and manager of public health programs. He has devoted his career to the improvement of health outcomes by increasing access to high-quality health services.   Dr. Bryant has designed and implemented reproductive and child health programs, with continuing emphasis on the determinants of health and the development of community-based health systems. He has long-term experience in Africa (Zimbabwe and Cameroon), and has conducted short-term consultancies in more than 15 African countries and extensive work in Haiti, Latin America, and Asia. In addition to the design and implementation of health programs, Dr. Bryant has evaluated numerous USAID field projects in Haiti, Nicaragua, Madagascar, Senegal, and the Philippines.   Dr. Bryant works equally effectively with civil society organizations and public-sector agencies.  In 2007 – 2008 he assisted the Rwandan Ministry of Health in the design of Rwanda’s new national policy and five-year strategy for quality improvement.   Recently Dr. Bryant worked with the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to introduce an innovative methodology to maintain and improve the quality at the point of service delivery by bringing together health system and community approaches to care. Currently Dr. Bryant is a Research Associate at the Center for Global Health and Development at Boston University’s School of Public Health, where he manages a research program seeking to improve quality and coverage of services to orphans and vulnerable children around the world through applied, operations, and evaluation research.

Contact Information:

(617) 414-1266

OVC Wellbeing Content:


New article in Health Affairs evaluates PEPFAR OVC projects


PEPFAR’s support for orphans and vulnerable children: some beneficial effects, but too little data, and progress spread too thin


Cho, Hyunsan

Cho, Hyunsan

Position: Associate Research Scientist,

Background: Hyunsan Cho, Ph.D. has conducted research on a variety of prevention and evaluation studies over the past 10 years. As a sociologist with a strong statistical background, she has extensive experience in conducting NIH-funded randomized controlled trials. Currently, she serves as a Co-Investigator of randomized trials in Kenya and Zimbabwe (PI, Denise Hallfors). These projects are innovative clinical trials to test whether keeping orphans in school can reduce their risk for HIV infection. She led the randomization and data analyses for both projects and participated in all aspects of the research process for the Kenya project, including human subjects, data and safety monitoring, coordinating the work of study partners, and budget development and monitoring. She is well published and has recently submitted an application to lead a large R01 clinical trial in Kenya that builds on the current Kenya and Zimbabwe orphan studies. The application achieved a score at the 11th percentile. Given the NIMH priority for funding new investigator, it is expected that this grant will be funded in April 2011.

Prior to her work in Africa, Dr. Cho was Co-Investigator and chief methodologist of a large randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the Reconnecting Youth (RY) program for high-risk high school youth in two large urban U.S. cities. She led a key project paper on iatrogenic program effects, and another on the association between drug use and suicide behaviors. Her range of statistical methods is very broad and includes longitudinal data analysis, structural equation modeling, meta-analysis, cluster analysis, social network analysis, and multi-level analysis. Dr. Cho has also provided innovative methodological leadership in integrating qualitative process evaluation with quantitative outcome data in a study evaluating “Fighting Back” community coalitions and the RY program. She also led a paper on the evaluation of federal school policy which examines the gap between state/district level and federal government policy on authorized drug and violence prevention activities in the U.S. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Cho is a productive and very promising investigator with strong NIH study experience that encompasses HIV prevention, adolescent health, and randomized controlled trials.

Contact Information:


OVC Wellbeing Content:

School support as structural HIV prevention for adolescent orphans in Western Kenya

Cohen, Judith

Position: Medical Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children & Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA

Professor of Psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Background: Judith Cohen is Medical Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children & Adolescents at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, and Professor of Psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine. She is a Board Certified Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

Since 1983 Dr. Cohen has been funded by more than a dozen federally-supported grants to conduct research related to the assessment and treatment of traumatized children. With her colleagues, Anthony Mannarino, PhD and Esther Deblinger, PhD, she has developed and tested Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment for sexually abused and multiply traumatized children and their non-offending parents.

Dr. Cohen has served on the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and received its Outstanding Professional Award in 2000. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and is Associate Editor of its Journal of Traumatic Stress. She also served as the first author of the ISTSS published guidelines for treating childhood PTSD. Dr. Cohen is the Principal Author of the Practice Parameters for the assessment and treatment of childhood PTSD published by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). In 2004, ACCAP awarded her its 2004 Rieger Award for Scientific Achievement.

In addition to her research and teaching duties, Dr. Cohen maintains an active clinical practice.

Contact Information:

(412) 330-4321

OVC Wellbeing Content:

Cognitive behavioral therapy for symptoms of trauma and traumatic grief in refugee youth

Treatment of suicidal and self-injurious adolescents with emotional dysregulation

 Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for adjudicated youth in residential treatment


Cohen, Nancy J.


Position: Director of Research at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for Children’s Mental Health and the Hincks-Dellcrest Institute, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Toronto, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at OISE/UT and York University

Background: Dr. Cohen is currently Director of Research at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for Children’s Mental Health and the Hincks-Dellcrest Institute. The Research Department at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre undertakes research to understand the basis for children’s social and emotional problems, and to test and evaluate innovative interventions. Findings from research contribute to improving mental health in children and their families as well as preventing mental health problems from occurring or intensifying. These are issues that have a true impact on the development of children and the quality of their lives.

Dr. Cohen is also a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Toronto and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at OISE/UT and York University. Dr. Cohen is a researcher, clinician, and teacher in areas related to child and family mental health, including infant mental health, adoption, and the interface of language impairment and child psychopathology. Dr. Cohen has published and spoken widely and is a frequent reviewer for a number of journals.

Contact Information:
114 Maitland St.
Ste. 401
Toronto, ON
M4Y 1E1
416-972-1935 Ext. 3312

Cluver, Lucie

Position:University Lecturer in Evidence-based Social Intervention in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford


Lucie Cluver is a University Lecturer in Evidence-Based Social Intervention, and a Fellow of Wolfson College. She trained as a social worker, and has practiced in South Africa and the U.K. Her research interests are in the impacts on children of AIDS-orphanhood and parental AIDS-illness, particularly mental health, physical health and educational outcomes.

Current projects include a 4-year longitudinal study of mental health amongst 1200 AIDS-orphaned children and other children in Cape Town, with Cape Town Child Welfare Society ( Dr Cluver is working with the South African National Departments of Social Development, Health and Education on the ‘Young Carers Project’: a national survey of 6000 children and 2600 caregivers to determine health and educational impacts of caring for an AIDS-sick caregiver ( Other projects include a cluster randomized controlled trial of psychosocial intervention for orphans and vulnerable children in Mpumalanga, with the University of Witwatersrand and Soul City.

Dr Cluver has acted as a scientific advisor to UNICEF, the WHO, and the South African National Action Committee for Children Affected by AIDS (NACCA). She leads the Centre for AIDS Interdisciplinary Research at Oxford (CAIRO). She speaks terrible Zulu and has a bad habit of missing flights.

Full details Lucie Cluver’s CV and research.




Contact Information:

Telephone (+01865):(2)80370


OVC Wellbeing Content:

Psychological distress amongst AIDS-orphaned children in urban South Africa

Posttraumatic stress in AIDS-orphaned children exposed to high levels of trauma: the protective role of perceived social support

Prevalence of parental death among young people in South Africa and risk for HIV infection

Orphanhood and Completion of Compulsory School Education Among Young People in South Africa: Findings From a National Representative Survey

AIDS-Orphanhood and Caregiver HIV/AIDS Sickness Status: Effects on Psychological Symptoms in South African Youth

Persisting mental health problems among AIDS-orphaned children in South Africa

Effects of stigma on the mental health of adolescents orphaned by AIDS

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