Brenda Curtis, Ph.D., MsPH


Translational Addiction Medicine Branch, Technology and Translational Research Unit


Biomedical Research Center
251 Bayview Boulevard
Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21224

667-312- 5077

Research Topics

Dr. Curtis’ research focus is translational, leveraging social media and big data methodology to form the development, evaluation, and implementation of technology-based tools that address substance use and related conditions such as HIV/AIDS. Understanding techniques people use to gather information online and how that information is processed has influenced her development of a web-based smoking cessation intervention; an online adolescent screening, brief information, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) program; and an adolescent safer sex and pregnancy prevention intervention CD-ROM. Dr. Curtis employs multiple methodologies to facilitate the flow of scientific discovery to practical application allowing her to not only reach under-served populations, but to design health monitoring and behavioral change interventions that are user-centered, inclusive, and evidence-based.


Dr. Curtis earned both a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Illinois and subsequently obtained her doctorate in communication from the University of Pennsylvania, where she most recently held the appointment of Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Addictions at the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Curtis also completed a fellowship at the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute. Before joining NIDA IRP, she was the PI of a NIDA-funded R01 award (DA039457) entitled “Predicting AOD Relapse and Treatment Completion from Social Media Use” in which she used social media data to predict alcohol and other drug relapse and treatment completion among patients who have recently entered community outpatient treatment programs. She has also served as a co-investigator on several R01 NIAAA, NCI, and NIDA funded projects including a placebo-controlled trial of bupropion for smoking cessation in pregnant women in which we are using SMS text messaging to promote medication adherence; a multi-modal intervention on the use of a “smart” pillbox to promote medication adherence among non-adherent patients; a study examining the accuracy of smartphone breathalyzers; and a study examining the impact of a smart-phone based continuing care “app” for alcohol dependence. Her training in public health and health communication allows her to employ a public health approach while using effective communication techniques to ensure recruitment and retention rates are achieved.

Selected Publications

  1. Curtis B, Giorgi S, Ungar L, Vu H, Yaden D, Liu T, Yadeta K, Schwartz HA. AI-based analysis of social media language predicts addiction treatment dropout at 90 days. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2023.
  2. Liu T, Giorgi S, Yadeta K, Schwartz HA, Ungar LH, Curtis B. Linguistic predictors from Facebook postings of substance use disorder treatment retention versus discontinuation. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2022;48(5):573-585.
  3. Giorgi S, Yaden DB, Eichstaedt JC, Ungar LH, Schwartz HA, Kwarteng A, Curtis B. Predicting U.S. county opioid poisoning mortality from multi-modal social media and psychological self-report data. Sci Rep. 2023;13(1):9027.
  4. Lou S, Giorgi S, Liu T, Eichstaedt JC, Curtis B. Measuring disadvantage: A systematic comparison of United States small-area disadvantage indices. Health Place. 2023;80:102997.
  5. Moon AM, Curtis B, Mandrekar P, Singal AK, Verna EC, Fix OK. Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease Before and After COVID-19-An Overview and Call for Ongoing Investigation. Hepatol Commun. 2021;5(9):1616-1621.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, August 12, 2020