CoLab is led by four CHPPR University of Texas Health faculty with international and domestic substance use and chronic disease research backgrounds. Their research is focused on assisting and improving the lives of underserved people with a history of substance use, mental health concerns, comorbidities, and sexually transmitted diseases. The team hopes to eliminate inequities and health disparities through training opportunities, health education, and social justice programs while collaborating with marginalized communities.


Housing for Opioid MAT Expanded Services (Project HOMES)

Housing for Opioid MAT Expanded Services (Project HOMES)

Project HOMES provides housing for people in Medication-Assisted Recovery (MAR) from opioid and stimulant. Our residences across the Texas region are substance-free and work to create a supportive environment for people with a history of problematic substance use. We have 14 homes, all in compliance with National Association for Recovery Residence (NARR) standards. We have conducted quantitative and qualitative research in evaluating our residents and a cost-benefit analysis to capture the net benefit of recovery residents to society. Our main objectives include identifying variables to promote positive health outcomes, identifying programming priorities, and informing decision-making for people with an opioid use disorder (OUD). While recovering from opioid use is a personal experience that looks different for every person, we hope to capture all the unique experiences that every resident encounters in their recovery journey.

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Using Local Data to Tackle a National Problem: Overdose Data to Action

Using Local Data to Tackle a National Problem: Overdose Data to Action

Forty cities and health departments fund OD2A: Local to build a strong foundation and facilitate cooperation among public health, behavioral health, health systems, community organizations, and public safety. We are using data to tailor prevention strategies to reach groups who are disproportionately affected by the overdose epidemic and are at the highest risk of overdose and developing robust partnerships with local overdose responders. We aim to ensure that culturally relevant information and the delivery of prevention projects are informed through data and ongoing engagement with populations.

Behavioral Workforce Education and Training (BHWET)

Behavioral Workforce Education and Training (BHWET)

As a program funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Behavioral Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) is working to expand the recovery support peer specialists (RSPS) workforce in Texas. The program builds on the Opioid Workforce Expansion Program (OWEP). RSPS assists individuals with substance use disorders using medication-assisted treatment and living in recovery residences. The RSPS program also trains people interested in becoming peer specialists through educational classes and internships, where they are supported with fees, tuition, and training and receive a stipend.

Enhanced Integrated Treatment Program with Sexual Health in Recovery

Enhanced Integrated Treatment Program with Sexual Health in Recovery

E-ITP SHIR is an evidence-based intervention funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for increasing access to sexual health, substance use, and mental health treatment for Latino and African-American gay/bi men and transgender women who are at risk for contracting or transmitting HIV and use drugs during risky sex. The program assesses each client’s sexual health and existing shame about sexual behaviors. The ITP consists of several tailored formats: (1) An intensive outpatient program, individual therapy, and case management; (2) A supportive outpatient program to address relapse prevention plus individual therapy and case management; (3) Individual therapy and case management.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Review of Opioid Abatement Strategies

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - Review of Opioid Abatement Strategies

The goal of this project was to conduct a literature review on strategies to abate opioid use disorders, train health providers and community leaders on how to use Narcan and help people with opioid use disorders get started on medically-assisted therapies. In addition, we also evaluated the coordination of care of individuals undergoing medication-assisted treatments (MAT), routine treatments, and the effectiveness of prevention programs, and support services. We also provided actionable items to prevent overdose deaths and improve healthcare services.


Sheryl McCurdy

Sheryl McCurdy, PhD


Dr. McCurdy is a professor at the UTH Science Center Houston. Since 2003, she worked in Tanzania on harm reduction and heroin recovery. Currently, she is working on an NSF cultural anthropology award examining heroin care networks in Tanzania. Alternatively, she facilitates HRSA-funded paraprofessional training programs to increase the number of recovery support specialists and evaluate the effectiveness of an online training curriculum in rural Texas and the Texas-Mexico border. Along with Dr. Wilkerson, she manages Project HOMES providing recovery residences for people using MAT.

Publication List

Johnny M. Wilkerson

Johnny M. Wilkerson, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Wilkerson is an Associate Professor at the UTH Science Center in Houston. Currently, he serves as the faculty co-coordinator for the Health Disparities Certificate Program and has been working as a practitioner and researcher in community health education for over twenty years. His research focuses on the identification of individual and structural determinants that contribute to health disparities among priority populations and the development and evaluation of health promotion programs.

Publication List

Kathryn R. Gallardo

Kathryn R. Gallardo, PhD

Assistant Professor Non-Tenure Research

Dr. Gallardo is an Assistant Professor at the UT Health Science Center at the Houston School of Public Health. She is a licensed master social worker and holds a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Gallardo’s research interests center on examining, expanding, and enhancing access to recovery support services (RSS) for underserved and marginalized populations, including individuals taking medications for an opioid use disorder (MOUD) and emerging adults. She is particularly interested in exploring how MOUD-related stigma can be combated within the context of RSS.

Publication List

Serena A. Rodriguez

Serena A. Rodriguez, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Rodriguez is focused on designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions that improve healthcare delivery and reduce disparities, particularly among historically marginalized patient sub-populations. Her research focuses on the implementation of science and cancer prevention and control with her experiences in community-based global health work. She has led multiple studies examining access to women's health services in rural Uganda, cervical cancer screening among women with refugee status, and cancer care delivery for women living with HIV.

Publication List

Estevan Herrera

Estevan Herrera, BMST

Project Manager

View bio

Estevan (Steve) is the Project Manger of Project HOMES. He previously managed multiple high-impact organizations in the behavioral sciences and has previous experience as a clinical biochemist. Currently, he is collaborating with multiple community partners, including the National Association Recovery residences.

Alumni Coming soon

Get Involved

We are always looking for new people to join our team. Feel free to reach out to our Project Manager, Steve Herrera.

Job Listings for Students

Students can apply for CoLab opportunities on the Handshake portal.


Alternative Staff Site for Employees

Apply for opportunities on the UT career website

Careers at UT Health Houston

Job Listings for Staff

Apply for opportunities on the UT career website.

University of Texas Health Houston Careers

Are you interested in getting your master's or a doctorate in public health while getting hands-on experience with the CoLab research team? Reach out to our CoLab faculty to explore opportunities for mentoring throughout your studies at the University of Texas.

School of Public Health Departments

Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Data Science, and Management, Policy and Community Health

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About School of Public Health

UTHealth Houston is internationally recognized as one of the world's great research universities. The School of Public Health connects research, education, patient care, and community outreach in bold, innovative ways. Basic scientists and clinical researchers from all disciplines work together to deliver innovative solutions that create the best hope for a healthier future. Our faculty are pioneering radical solutions for imminent public health problems and provide the tools and resources that will push our students to think critically and creatively both in and out of the classroom. This is where academic rigor meets real-world application.

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