David B Abrams

David Abrams
David B Abrams

Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Professional overview

Dr. David Abrams' career focuses on systems and social learning frameworks to inform population health enhancement. He has experience in testing theory, research design, measuring mechanisms of behavior change and outcome, and evaluating clinical trials (behavioral and pharmacological). His interests span topics from basic bio-behavioral mechanisms and clinical treatments to policy across risk factors and behaviors (e.g. tobacco/nicotine; alcohol, obesity, co-morbidity of medical and mental health), disease states (cancer; cardiovascular; HIV-AIDS), levels (biological, individual, organizational, worksite, community, global, and internet based), populations and disparities. His interests converge in the domain of implementation science to cost-efficiently inform evidence-based public health practice and policymaking.

Through transdisciplinary and translational research strategies, Dr. Abrams provides scientific leadership in tobacco control. His current focus is in strengthening global and United States tobacco and nicotine management strategies. Deaths of 1 billion smokers are estimated by 2100 caused overwhelmingly by use of combustible (smoked) tobacco products, not nicotine. Harm minimization is a key overarching systems strategy to speed the net public health benefit of emergent disruptive technologies for cleaner nicotine delivery. The goal is more rapid elimination of preventable deaths, disease burdens, and the widening gap in health disparities driven disproportionately by disparities in smoking.

Dr. Abrams was a professor and founding director of the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at Brown University Medical School. He then directed the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Until 2017, he was Professor of Health Behavior and Society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the founding Executive Director of the Schroeder National Institute of Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative (formerly the American Legacy Foundation).

Dr. Abrams has published over 250 peer reviewed scholarly articles and been a Principal Investigator on numerous NIH grants. He is lead author of The Tobacco Dependence Treatment Handbook: A Guide to Best Practices. He has served on expert panels at NIH and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on Obesity, Alcohol Misuse and Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation. He has also served on the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) and was President of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

For a complete list of Dr. Abrams' published work, click here.


BSc (Hons), Psychology and Computer Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
MS, Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
PhD, Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI

Honors and awards

Research Laureate Award, American Academy of Health Behavior (2014)
Joseph W. Cullen Memorial Award for Tobacco Research, American Society for Preventive Oncology (2008)
Distinguished Alumni Award: Rutgers University, The Graduate School, New Brunswick, NJ (2007)
The Musiker-Miranda Distinguished Service Award, American Psychological Association (2006)
Distinguished Service Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine (2006)
Outstanding Research Mentor Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine (2006)
Book of the Year Award: Tobacco Dependence Treatment Handbook. American Journal of Nursing (2005)
Distinguished Scientist Award, Society of Behavioral Medicine (1998)

Areas of research and study

Behavioral Science
Chronic Diseases
Implementation and Impact of Public Health Regulations
Implementation science
Population Health
Public Health Pedagogy
Public Health Systems
Research Design
Systems Integration
Systems Interventions
Tobacco Control
Translational science



Applying transdisciplinary research strategies to understanding and eliminating health disparities

Characteristics of smokers reached and recruited to an internet smoking cessation trial: A case of denominators

Correlates of motivation to quit smoking among alcohol dependent patients in residential treatment

External validity: We need to do more

Internet- vs. Telephone-administered questionnaires in a randomized trial of smoking cessation

The proximal association between smoking and alcohol use among first year college students

Home health care nurses as a new channel for smoking cessation treatment: Outcomes from project CARES (Community-nurse Assisted Research and Education on Smoking)

Initial evaluation of a real-world internet smoking cessation system

Reducing the cancer burden of lifestyle factors: Opportunities and challenges of the internet

The efficacy of moderate intensity exercise as an aid for smoking cessation in women: A randomized controlled trial

Adolescents' responses to the gender valence of cigarette advertising imagery: The role of affect and the self-concept

Developing an integrative social-cognitive strategy for personality assessment at the level of the individual: An illustration with regular cigarette smokers

Effects of tobacco deprivation on alcohol cue reactivity and drinking among young adults

Investigating the big five personality factors and smoking: Implications for assessment

Motivational enhancement and coping skills training for cocaine abusers: Effects on substance use outcomes

Smoking cessation treatment on the Internet: Content, quality, and usability

Thinking about craving: An experimental analysis of smokers' spontaneous self-reports of craving

Who am I? The role of self-conflict in adolescents' responses to cigarette advertising

Alcohol specific role play test

Effects of motivational interviewing on smoking cessation in adolescents with psychiatric disorders

Facilitating transdisciplinary research: The experience of the transdisciplinary tobacco use research centers

Naltrexone treatment for alcoholics: Effect on cigarette smoking rates

Ongoing research and future directions

Planning evidence-based treatment of tobacco dependence

Psychosocial assessment and coping skills treatment for cocaine abuse: Preliminary results


da94@nyu.edu 715/719 Broadway 12th Fl New York, NY 10003