Dr. Melissa Lewis invited to join NIAAA College Working Group

September 8, 2023 • News

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Dr. Melissa Lewis

Dr. Melissa Lewis has been invited to join the new College Working Group of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Lewis, an associate dean for research and professor in the School of Public Health at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, adds her expertise to NIAAA’s focus on higher education environments and alcohol misuse prevention.

The College Working Group will provide a forum for the institute to stay informed on potential research and outreach opportunities related to alcohol use and other alcohol-related issues on college campuses. NIAAA is an institute within the National Institutes of Health that supports and conducts research on the adverse impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being.

“I am pleased to have been invited and honored to join this vital group,” Lewis said. “The opportunity to collaborate with NIAAA and other esteemed researchers and practitioners will undoubtedly drive further progress in our understanding and prevention of high-risk alcohol use within our educational institutions.”

NIAAA researchers found that more than 1,500 students die every year of alcohol-related causes. An additional 600,000 are injured after consuming alcohol, and approximately 1 in 5 college women experience sexual assault in college. One in four say their academic performance has suffered from drinking. Around 13% of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.

Lewis has built her career on developing, testing and implementing preventative interventions concerning alcohol misuse among college students. She has studied and published widely on the topic of alcohol misuse and its associated negative consequences since 2002.

Lewis is also recognized as a national leader in addressing the overlap of alcohol, risky sexual behaviors and sexual assault prevention, and in recognizing the importance of building bridges on campus between practitioners and prevention professionals.

“Dr. Lewis’ inclusion in the NIAAA College Working Group is a testament to her dedication and expertise,” said Dr. Shafik Dharamsi, dean of the HSC School of Public Health. “Her contributions will certainly enhance the group’s ability to impact college communities positively, aligning perfectly with our mission here at the School of Public Health.”

The NIAAA previously hosted a College President’s Working Group aimed at providing recommendations to college administrators. NIAAA’s decision to launch a new College Working Group is another step toward bringing together researchers and practitioners committed to real-world applications of the research that NIAAA funds.

NIAAA’s college drinking research and associated resources are science-based and prepared in accessible and practical ways to give college administrators, parents, and concerned students a foundation for alcohol intervention activities.

Dr. Jason Kilmer of the University of Washington will serve as chair of the group. Fred Donodeo, Deb Langer and Gregory Roa from the NIAAA are invested in the formation of the group and look forward to the positive outcomes resulting from its work.