NYC skyline
Interventions to Reduce DisparitiEs in AddictionS Research Program

IDEAS Mission

We primarily aim to address disparities in addiction treatment among key vulnerable populations and build research capacity among lab members. We approach this through creating an engaging environment for both graduate and undergraduate students, from NYU and other universities, where they can learn quantitative and qualitative research methods and develop valuable research skills, such as writing and publishing manuscripts, conducting literature reviews, grant writing, and collecting and analyzing data.

What will IDEAS Lab Offer?

You will have the opportunity to:

  • Gain research experience before grad school/medical school
  • Earn letters of recommendation
  • Help with scientific literature reviews, grant writing, research study design, and writing IRB applications
  • Develop skills related to data collection and analysis
  • Develop skills related to smoking intervention development and execution
  • Co-author and publish manuscripts

We are recruiting members for IDEAS Lab who are currently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs at NYU and other universities. We offer both remote and hybrid internships. Apply Here

If you have any questions when filling out the application, please contact us at

Current Projects


E-cigarettes for Smoking Harm Reduction among People Living with HIV/AIDs

A 6-month long study following smokers living with HIV/AIDs to evaluate e-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for smoking cessation versus traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

E-cigarettes for Smoking Harm Reduction among Persons with Substance Use Disorder

A full-scale 5-year R01-funded study following smokers diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder and/or Alcohol Use Disorder to evaluate e-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy versus traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

mHealth Intervention Evaluation among Chinese Diabetic smokers

A two-part study that aims to characterize the treatment barriers and facilitators among Chinese American male smokers with Type 2 diabetes and user preferences for mHealth. Study methods include conducting qualitative interviews in Chinese to inform future use of a culturally and linguistically tailored smoking cessation and diabetes management texting intervention.

Systematic Review: Evaluating the impact of care delivered via telehealth on patients’ treatment satisfaction

Review primary research studies pertaining to using telehealth modality on patients’ treatment satisfaction to characterize the existing body of research and its limitations.

Digital Health Optimization: Evaluating patient-physician encounters for weight management

Quantitative assessments and formative qualitative evaluation of the impact of physician-patient encounters using FitBit data in Weight management. Study is conducted at the VA-New York Harbor.

Data Analyses using Existing National Surveys

Using publicly available national datasets such as National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to address several research questions pertaining to IDEAS Lab scope of research.

E-cigarettes for Smoking Harm Reduction among Persons with Serious Mental Illness

Our pilot RCT focuses on measuring the feasibility and acceptability of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction tool in contrast to Nicotine Replacement Therapy. We use an array of study methods such as administration of the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview, surveys, as well as providing support using interactive texting and telehealth counseling.

LGBTQ Survey

Our most recent project aims to understand the intersection between substance use, mental health, eating disorders, and sleep disorders among the LGBTQ population. Through the guidance of community speakers and ambassadors, we hope to build rapport with the target population prior to outreach activities. Once live, the project will provide a platform through which the lived experiences of this community may be further studied and evaluated. 



Dr. Omar El Shahawy MD, MPH, PhD

Dr. Omar El Shahawy MD, MPH, PhD

Principle investigator, Founder

Dr. Omar El Shahawy MD, MPH, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health, Section on Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Use at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and an affiliated faculty at the Division of Global Health, NYU School of Global Public Health. Dr. El Shahawy co-founded the lab in January 2021. Dr. El Shahawy research extensively on developing high impact multi-modal interventions targeting smoking cessation and harm reduction in nicotine addiction. His current research interests include tobacco treatment, addressing disparities among vulnerable populations, telehealth and digital health interventions, and patient-physician decision making.

Dr. Liz Stevens, PhD, MPH

Dr. Liz Stevens, PhD, MPH


Dr. Stevens in an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health and a Health Science Specialist with the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System. Her research aims to improve tobacco-related health outcomes in hard-to-treat populations. In particular, her research focuses on the role of e-cigarettes in smoking and symptom reduction in patients with COPD as well as intervention cost-effectiveness. Additionally, she studies the role of collaborative research behaviors in the enhancement of implementation research quality and productivity.

We have 6 cores within IDEAS Lab.

Adriana Bayron

Adriana Bayron

Clinical Trials Core  

Adriana is a Research Coordinator in the Department of Population Health Section on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use. She leads our NIH-funded R01 looking at harm reduction among smokers with Opioid Use Disorder and oversees various other projects within the lab. Adriana received her B.A. in Biology, and minor in chemistry from NYU while on the prehealth track. She is interested in cancer biology, neurology, LGBTQ advocacy, and addiction research. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and trying new coffee cafes around NYC!  

Izamar Gallardo-Castillo

Izamar Gallardo Castillo

Surveys Core 

Izamar is a Research Data Associate in the Department of Population Health’s Section on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Use. They co-lead the Persons with Serious Mental Illness pilot along with Dr. Fawole and are involved in various other aspects of our NIH funded R01. Their passions involved psychology of violence and personality, poetry, gardening, and volunteering in various mutual aid networks working to minimize the impact of food apartheid in their community. 

Justin McClendon

Justin McClendon, MPH

Grant Applications Core 

Justin is a Research Data Associate in the Department of Population Health. He works on lab projects, publications, and oversees several research studies pertaining to harm reduction with e-cigarettes in different populations. Justin received his Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from NYU and is completing his Master of Biology at NYU. Justin is interested in infectious disease comorbidities as they impact international and minority populations, specifically, in working on infectious disease outbreaks and how these interactions with chronic and communicable diseases contribute to higher rates of mortality and morbidity. 

Mari Braga

Mariana Braga

Qualitative Analysis Core

Mariana is a Research Lab Manager in the Department of Population Health. She currently leads a qualitative research study relating to the effects of harm reduction with e-cigarettes in different populations and is interested in addiction, maternal and child health, and mental health. She received a B.A. in Biosocial Health and Psychology with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies from NYU, and is in the process of receiving her MPH in Global Health. In her free time, she enjoys playing the guitar and reading.

Michelle He

Michelle He, M.S.

Statistical Analysis Core 

Michelle is a data analyst in the Department of Population Health. She assists with programming and statistical analysis to address the effects of harm reduction with e-cigarettes among vulnerable populations. Michelle received her M.S. in biostatistics from NYU, School of Global Public Health. In her free time, she enjoys trying new recipes and visiting museums. 

Lab Members

Jackie Kim

Jackie Kim

Research Intern

Jackie is a senior at Cornell University majoring in Biological Sciences and Philosophy. She assists on lab projects relating to polysubstance use and addiction in populations with serious mental illness. She is interested in neural mechanisms of memory, addiction in vulnerable populations, as well as interactions between culture and mental health. Her hobbies include oil painting, swimming, and ethical hamster care.

Jason El Azzi

Jason El Azzi

Research Intern

Jason is currently a second year MPH candidate at NYU with a concentration in Epidemiology and mainly conducts research on post-traumatic growth. His other research interests are harm reduction, substance abuse prevention, and psychiatric epidemiology. In his free time, he enjoys motor-racing. 

Jenny Yu

Jenny Yu

Research Intern

Jenny is a research assistant. She is working on a qualitative study on Chinese American smokers with diabetes and another study on vaping, eating disorders, and perceived discrimination among Asian American youth. Jenny is currently in her final semester at NYU, studying Applied Psychology and Global Public Health, and a minor in Data Science. In her free time, she enjoys baking, cooking, and doing pilates. 

Minny Choi

Minkyeong (Minny) Choi

Research Intern

Minkyeong (Minny) Choi is an undergraduate senior at NYU studying global public health and social work. She is interested in public health disparities, drug addiction, and system theories. In her free time, she enjoys working out, finding for new restaurants, and watching Netflix. 

Mohamed Doucure

Mohamed Doucure

Research Intern

Mohamed is a recent graduate from New York University with a B.A Biology on the pre-health track with Chemistry and Psychology minors. He is interested in telehealth and harm Reduction. In his free time, he enjoys drawing and reading books.

Nada Hamade

Nada Hamade

Research intern

Nada is a first-year graduate student at NYU pursuing a Master of Public Health with a concentration in global health. She is interested in health disparities among vulnerable populations especially the ones living with HIV/AIDS. She enjoys traveling.

Sanobar Jaka

Sanobar Jaka

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow/ Study Team Leader

Sanobar is an MD who recently received her MPH in Health Management and Policy from NYU School of Global Public Health. She currently works in a clinical role at Bronx Care Health System. Her research interests are in Behavioral Health disorders including substance abuse, and exploring health care delivery and access models in mental health.

Tanmik Shah

Tanmik Shah

Senior data analyst

Tanmik received his MPH in Biostatistics from NYU. He is interested in identifying tobacco-related behaviors and health outcomes and evaluating the effects of smoking and alternative tobacco products use on various health outcomes.

IDEAS Lab alumni

Brian Kang

Caroline Romano

Diego Quintana Licona

Jianan Zhu 

John Crupi 

Le Li

Marisa Gerard

Meghan Durr

Mirkelis De Jesus

Naomi Cruz

Shu Zhu

Stacy Hsu

Quiann King 

We welcome interested undergraduate and graduate students to apply!  Apply Now


If you have any questions when filling out the application, please contact us at