Orange Alert

Syracuse University’s Center for Health Behavior Research and Innovation Unites Investigators Across Disciplines to Improve Health and Well-Being

The new center within the College of Arts and Sciences will advance collaborative health behavior research, training and community engagement.

Nov. 28, 2023, by A&S News Staff

Joe Ditre
Joseph Ditre, professor of psychology and inaugural director of the Center for Health Behavior Research and Innovation.

The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) at Syracuse University is pleased to announce the opening of the Center for Health Behavior Research and Innovation (CHBRI). The center will promote and support innovative health behavior research, training and community outreach endeavors across disciplines in A&S and will work with other University research centers that study behavioral health.

The center’s inaugural director is Joseph Ditre, professor of psychology in A&S. A faculty member at Syracuse University since 2012, Ditre’s program of translational clinical research involves basic and applied work in the areas of health psychology and behavioral medicine, with an emphasis on the intersection of substance use and chronic pain.

A Collaborative Approach

As director of CHBRI, Ditre will help promote connections among faculty that extend beyond departments and colleges. These partnerships will allow researchers to better understand and address the complex impact of individual and group actions, behaviors and decisions on physical and mental health, disease development and management, and overall well-being. Signature areas of focus include behavioral determinants of health such as substance use, diet, exercise and sleep; the interplay of psychosocial factors like stress, resilience, trauma, cognition and affective processes; the application of emerging technologies such as biometric monitoring, mobile intervention delivery and virtual reality; and the adaptation and integration of personalized treatments.

“Biopsychosocial and behavioral factors influence all states of health, disease and human thriving, and Syracuse University is well-positioned to make additional important contributions to the field by leveraging shared expertise."

~ Joseph Ditre

According to Ditre, the center will support collaboration among faculty whose work spans the translational spectrum of health behavior research, from human laboratory studies to the development and subsequent implementation of innovative assessment and intervention approaches.

CHBRI has three areas of emphasis:

  • Research and Collaboration

CHBRI will cultivate cross-university interdisciplinary research collaborations among faculty, students and community partners from diverse fields including psychology, medicine, sociology, epidemiology, public health and policy. By working closely with local and national organizations and healthcare systems, CHBRI aims to increase opportunities for faculty and students to secure funding and conduct high impact health behavior research.

  • Health Equity

Through a commitment to health equity – where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health – CHBRI will unify and build upon the interests and expertise of faculty and students who investigate and address psychosocial determinants that underlie and contribute to health disparities.

  • Education and Training

CHBRI will help train the next generation of health behavior researchers and clinicians by providing integrated opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. Experiential and inquiry-based learning, along with health behavior-oriented educational programs will help prepare future researchers and healthcare professionals.

A Commitment to Veterans

Building on the University’s existing strengths and resources related to the field of military and veteran studies, one of the center’s first major projects will be a collaboration between A&S, the Office of Research and the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). This initiative will establish a health behavior research program with an emphasis on promoting mental and behavioral health, well-being and resilience among veteran and military populations. Through its partnership with the Office of Research and IVMF, the center will hire two postdoctoral scholars to help establish and grow the IVMF/CHBRI collaboration.

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 5 million veterans experience a behavioral health condition each year. Furthermore, over half of veterans with a mental illness and more than 90 percent of those experiencing a substance use disorder did not receive treatment in the past year. With behavioral health being a key driver of overall health, the work at CHBRI will yield essential insights that iteratively inform the development and dissemination of innovative and scalable programs and services.

A&S Dean Behzad Mortazavi notes that Ditre’s extensive history of collaborative research and work with the veteran population make him the perfect person to lead this effort. “Thanks to the collaborations that will be fostered by Professor Ditre and the center, our faculty and students will be contributing to much needed improvements in health care and health equity,” says Mortazavi.

Duncan Brown, Vice President for Research and Charles Brightman Endowed Professor of Physics says, “The Office of Research is enthusiastic to support this new collaboration between Arts and Sciences and the D’Aniello Institute. The new center will open possibilities for new research collaborations not just between psychology and the IVMF’s research team, but across many different research areas at Syracuse that impact behavioral health. The center's research is closely aligned with our excellence in the area of human thriving and the University’s goal of being the best place for veterans.”

Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation and Executive Director of the IVMF says, “The vision for advancing Syracuse University’s commitment to veterans and military families has always been to engage partners across the University in the work of the IVMF. This new center is a high-potential example of that vision in practice and is well-positioned to positively impact the health and well-being of the nation’s veterans and military-connected populations.”


Joseph Ditre Professor

Media Contact

A&S News Staff