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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Appoints Kiara Alvarez as New Bloomberg Assistant Professor of American Health

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed Kiara Alvarez, PhD, as a Bloomberg Assistant Professor of American Health in the area of adolescent health in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society. This is an endowed position supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Alvarez is a health services researcher and psychologist whose work focuses on mental health equity for adolescents and young adults. Alvarez also holds a joint appointment in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She has particular interests in the prevention of youth suicidal behavior, the mental health and well-being of Latinx and immigrant youth and their families, and the integration of behavioral health care across clinical and community settings serving youth.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Kiara Alvarez join our faculty,” says Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. “Her work represents a powerful combination of research and practice that makes an impact on young people, families, and communities."

Among her projects, Alvarez is currently piloting an intervention to improve screening and follow-up for suicidal behavior among Latinx youth in primary care settings. This work is based in Baltimore and in collaboration with Centro SOL (Salud/Health and Opportunities for Latinos), based at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Alvarez is also examining how structural racism impacts children’s mental health service systems, including suicide prevention practices, and what practice and policy strategies can inform systems transformation.

“Dr. Alvarez’s work on mental health adopts community engagement principles in innovative ways, and we are excited to further strengthen this area of scholarship and practice in our Department,” says Rajiv Rimal, PhD, chair of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society.  

Prior to joining the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Alvarez had concurrent appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital: instructor at Harvard Medical School, research scientist in the Disparities Research Unit in the Department of Medicine, and psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Prevention Research and the steering committee of the Youth Suicide Research Consortium. She is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“Dr. Alvarez focuses her work on young people in the Latinx and immigrant communities facing enormous stress,” says Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. “She will work closely with the fellows and collaborating organizations of the Initiative to bring about much-needed change.”

Alvarez completed her psychology training at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and received her doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds an EdM in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA in Literature from Harvard University. 

She was also a 2018 scholar in the Bloomberg School’s Mixed Methods Research Training Program for the Health Sciences.

“The appointment of Dr. Kiara Alvarez as a new Bloomberg Assistant Professor of American Health is great news for students and for the immigrant communities she has served over the course of her career,” says Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and
Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Her expertise will help the university further the critical public health work being done with immigrants across the country, and we are looking forward to seeing the contributions she will make."

This professorship endowment is part of the 
Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which provides endowment support to at least 25 positions. The Initiative focuses on addressing major health challenges facing the nation, including obesity and the food system, environmental challenges, addiction and overdose, violence, and adolescent health.

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