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2023 Roybal Annual Meeting

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March 14 -15, 2023


The Bethesdan



8120 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814



Karina Davidson
 PhD, MASc

Dr. Karina Davidson is the Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of the Institute of Health System Science at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Endowed Donald and Barbara Zucker Professor in Health Outcomes at the Zucker School of Medicine, and Senior Vice President, Research at Northwell Health. For more than 25 years Dr. Davidson has served in leadership roles for teams focused on the advancement of scientific and patient care missions, through both the generation and implementation of research-based evidence. Dr. Davidson has been the principal investigator of more than 30 federally funded grants and authored over 350 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Davidson’s research focuses on innovations in personalized trials and healthcare systems to manage chronic disease and patient symptoms that incorporate patient preferences and values. She recently served as Chair of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Dr. Davidson currently serves as the PI for the Roybal Coordinating Center and PI of Northwell Health’s P30 Center, “Roybal Center for Personalized Trials.” She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology and a M.A.Sc in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Michaela Kiernan

Dr. Michaela Kiernan is a Senior Research Scholar at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. She received her PhD in social psychology from Yale University with expertise in research methods. Funded by NIH, American Heart Association, and other sources, her current research focuses on innovative retention strategies for randomized trials as well as behavioral weight management intervention trials. Dr. Kiernan currently directs the Stanford University School of Medicine R01 Countdown Program, an intensive grant writing boot camp for junior faculty, generating $150M in first-time NIH R01s and other grants. She has been a reviewer for the AHA Western States Affiliate Behavioral Science, Epidemiology, and Prevention Review Committee and numerous NIH study sections. Dr. Kiernan consulted for the SOM Center of Excellence Minority Faculty Development Program (2001-2007) and awarded the SOM Department of Medicine’s Divisional Teaching Award (2002, 2007, and 2018).

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Davidson & Kiernan

Billie Nahum-Shani

Dr. Billie Nahum-Shani is a Research Associate professor and the Co-Director for the Data Science for Dynamic Decision-making Center at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. She is a behavioral scientist who develops behavioral theory and novel methodology to construct adaptive interventions, which modify the type, timing, dose, or delivery mode of support in order to address the unique and changing needs of individuals. Of particular interest are interventions that leverage digital technology to adapt intervention delivery to individuals in real-time, in their daily lives. Her work includes developing and extending experimental designs that can inform the development of adaptive interventions, including Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trials (SMARTs), Micro-Randomized Trials (MRTs) and Hybrid Experimental Designs (HEDs). She is providing leadership to several NIH funded projects, including an NIH/NIDA funded P50 Center of Excellence to develop novel experimental designs and data analytic methods for adapting and personalizing services for drug use and HIV.


Daniel Almirall

Dr. Daniel Almirall is a Research Associate Professor and the Co-Director for the Data Science for Dynamic Decision-making Center at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. He is a trained statistician who develops methods used to form adaptive interventions, also known as dynamic treatment regimens. Adaptive interventions can be used to inform individualized treatment guidelines for the on-going management of chronic illnesses or disorders such as anxiety, depression, autism, diabetes, obesity, or HIV/AIDS. Dr. Almirall works primarily on methods related to the design, execution, and analysis of sequential multiple assignment randomized trials (SMARTs). SMARTs give rise to high-quality data that can be used to build and optimize ATSs. He is also interested in the development of methods for causal inference using longitudinal intervention data in which treatments, covariates, and outcomes are all time-varying. A specific interest in this area has been the development of methods for examining time-varying effect moderation.

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Shani & Almirall

Mary Butler,

Dr. Mary Butler is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health’s Division of Health Policy and Management. She is Co-Director of the AHRQ-funded Minnesota EPC, and Co-Lead of the Center for Learning System Sciences Evidence Synthesis Unit, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Medical School and the School of Public Health. Dr. Butler has conducted or overseen numerous systematic reviews on a wide range of topics to support evidence-based health care and contributes to developing systematic review methodology and guidance. Her areas of interest include scientific evidence standards, research design and systematic review methodology, evidence-based or evidence-informed healthcare, and complexity science in health and healthcare, especially regarding complex patients and complex interventions.

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Jasmin Tiro

Dr. Jasmin Tiro is a Professor at the University of Chicago - Division of Biological Sciences and an Associate Director of Cancer Prevention and Population Science for the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is trained in behavioral science and public health and has used pragmatic randomized controlled trial designs to test theory-based interventions to improve HPV vaccination and cancer screening in a variety of settings, including Parkland Health, the safety-net for Dallas County and Kaiser Permanente Washington. Dr. Tiro has used mixed-methods to understand intervention effects and to identify ways providers effectively communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents.  Currently, Dr. Tiro leads the Cervical Screening Research Center of the National Cancer Institute’s PROSPR Consortium. She is committed toward disseminating behavioral interventions aimed at ending cancer disparities.

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Butler & Shiro

Mina Sedrak

Dr. Sedrak is an Associate Professor of Medical Oncology and Deputy Director of the Center for Cancer and Aging at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angles, California. His research is at the interface of cancer and aging, and his work aims to understand how cancer treatment accelerates fundamental aging processes and, ultimately, translate this knowledge to the clinic to improve the health of cancer patients and survivors. Dr. Sedrak has also evaluated the barriers and facilitators to enrollment of older adults in cancer clinical trials and delivered lectures on improving the conduct of clinical trials for older adults with cancer at the NCI, the FDA, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He also Co-Led the NCI Cancer Moonshot Working group to build an infrastructure to support the accrual of older adults to clinical trials, bringing expertise as a geriatric oncologist and informing methods of improving clinical trial participation of older adults with cancer. Dr. Sedrak is the recipient of three highly sought-after, competitive, and prestigious NIA-funded awards: the Butler-Williams, GEMSSTAR, and Beeson awards. His work also has been supported by generous funding from the National Cancer Institute.


Carlos del Rio

Dr. Carlos del Rio is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Interim Dean of Emory University School of Medicine. He is also Professor of Global Health in the Department of Global Health and Professor of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health. He is co-Director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and co-PI of the Emory-CDC HIV Clinical Trials Unit and the Emory Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit. Dr. del Rio’s research focuses on the early diagnosis, access to care, engagement in care, compliance with antiretrovirals and the prevention of HIV infection. He has worked for over a decade with hard-to-reach populations including substance users to improve outcomes of those infected with HIV and to prevent infection with those at risk. He is also interested in the translation of research findings into practice and policy. Dr. del Rio has co-authored 30 book chapters and over 350 scientific papers. In 2013, Dr. del Rio was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and in 2020 was elected as Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Medicine.

Sedrak & del Rio

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried 

Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried is the Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control for the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Alabama at Birmingham, as well as Professor and Webb Endowed Chair of Nutrition Sciences, and an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor. Demark-Wahnefried is a nutrition scientist with training in biochemistry, genetics and behavioral science. For the past two decades, her research career has spanned basic science studies focused on determining mechanisms of action of food-related components on neoplastic progression, to clinical research that involves nutrition-related concerns of cancer patients, as well as determining effective lifestyle interventions that improve the overall health of cancer survivors and their families. Demark-Wahnefried’s laboratory has conducted some of the largest studies exploring metabolic and body composition changes in response to cancer treatment. She has experienced success in studying the delivery of home-based lifestyle interventions among cancer survivors, where she leads a number of NIH-funded trials aimed at improving the diet and exercise behaviors of cancer survivors. For her work in this area, she was a named a Susan G. Komen Professor of Survivorship.

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Bonnie Spring

Bonnie Spring is a clinical health psychologist, Professor of Preventive Medicine, Psychology and Psychiatry at Northwestern University, and Director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine’s Center for Behavior and Health. She studies technology-assisted interventions to promote healthy change in multiple chronic disease behavioral risk factors (e.g., suboptimal diet, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking) in research that has been continuously NIH-funded for more than 30 years. A past president of the Society for Behavioral Medicine (SBM), she received SBM’s Distinguished Scientist, Distinguished Research Mentor, Research to Practice Translation, Outstanding Optimization Research, and Distinguished Leadership awards, and is founding editor of its journal, Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, Research. She is the recipient of The Obesity Society’s e-Health Pioneer Award and the American Psychological Association Presidential Citations for Innovative Research and Leadership in Health Psychology and Vision in Incorporating Technology into Practice and Training. Her current research is supported by an NCI P50 to integrate telehealth treatment of multiple health risk behaviors into health care delivery and by R01s developing adaptive interventions for successful obesity treatment and weight loss maintenance.

Wahnefried & Spring

Kenneth Freedland

Dr. Kenneth Freedland is a Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at Washington University School of Medicine. His research focuses on depression and other behavioral and psychosocial problems in patients with heart disease and other chronic illnesses. He has been the PI or Co-I on numerous observational studies and clinical trials and has served on both the single-site and multicenter clinical trial review committees for NHLBI. He has also served on the faculty of the annual NIH Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials since 2007 and has been the Program Director of the Summer Institute since 2020. He recently ended his term as Editor-in-Chief of Health Psychology. He is the author or co-author of over 250 journal articles and book chapters, and a co-author of a methodology textbook entitled Behavioral Clinical Trials for Chronic Diseases: Scientific Foundations (Springer, 2021). His methodological interests include the selection and design of comparators for behavioral trials, the role and design of pilot studies in behavioral intervention research, the definition and assessment of clinical significance, and methods for making and tracking progress towards better treatment outcomes.


Linda Collins

Dr. Lina Collins is a Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at New York University’s School of Global Public Health. Her interests are focused on development, dissemination, and application of the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), an innovative methodological framework for optimizing and evaluating interventions in public health, education, criminal justice, and many other fields.  Dr. Collins has collaborated on research applying MOST in a range of areas, including HIV, smoking cessation, prevention of excessive alcohol use in college students, and weight loss. She is currently also collaborating on development of methods for optimization of adaptive interventions; decision-making based on the results of an optimization trial; and optimizing interventions for value-efficiency.  Her research has been funded by NIDA, NIAAA, NCI, NIDDK, and NSF.  Dr. Collins’s publications have appeared in journals in the behavioral sciences, quantitative methodology, medicine, and engineering.  She has given more than 150 invited presentations on MOST worldwide and developed a course on intervention optimization on the Coursera platform.

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Freeland & Collins

Niteesh K. Choudhry
 MD, PhD

Dr. Niteesh Choudnry is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Executive Director for the Center for Healthcare Delivery Sciences (C4HDS) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he also a practicing hospitalist. Through C4HDS, he directs the Roybal Center for Therapeutic Optimization using Behavioral Science and co-directs the Massachusetts Artificial Intelligence and Technology Center (MAITC), both of which are funded by the NIH/NIA. Dr. Choudhry’s research combines techniques from behavioral and data science to develop and test solutions to improve health care quality for common health care conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. His largest projects focus on improving the quality of medication prescribing and long-term adherence. He has run numerous pragmatic trials testing a variety of potential interventions to address these issues in partnership with large delivery systems and health insurers around the U.S.


Kenneth Hepburn

Dr. Kenneth Hepburn is a Professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, co-Director of the Emory Roybal Center for Dementia Caregiver Mastery, and Research Director for the Center for Health in Aging in Emory’s Academic Health Center. His research has focused on the development, testing, and dissemination of programs that improve the lives of persons with dementing disorders by enhancing the self-efficacy of their family caregivers. He and his colleagues have developed and demonstrated the efficacy of the Savvy Caregiver Program and the Tele-Savvy program designed to provide dementia family caregivers with the knowledge, skills, and outlook needed to care effectively for persons living with dementia and to do so in a manner that retards or reduces the burden usually associated with dementia caregiving.

Choudhry & Hepburn


Participants should arrange their own travel to the meeting. See below for travel times from hotel to nearby airports.

Ground Transportation

Distances and estimated travel times—without traffic—by car from the following airports to the hotel are provided for your reference:

DC Metro Airport
Distance to Hotel
Travel Time to Hotel
One-way Taxi Fare

Fares and travel times above are approximate and subject to change and can vary depending on traffic.
Parking: The Bethesdan offers onsite self-parking at the rate of $27.00.


Meeting Resources

Pilot Trials in Health-Related Behavioral Intervention Research: Problems, Solutions, and Recommendations

Kenneth E. Freedland

Pilot studies can help to pave the way for larger randomized controlled trials of health-related behavioral interventions. Unfortunately, there is widespread uncertainty and confusion about the kinds of studies that should or should not be called pilot trials, and about their relationship to other types of preliminary studies of behavioral interventions. The traditional conceptualization of pilot studies as “preliminary efficacy” trials has been especially problematic. This report identifies some common and problematic weaknesses in pilot trials. It also describes a strategy for preliminary research on behavioral interventions that can prevent these problems, and provides recommendations for researchers and reviewers.

Meeting Resources
Local Area Information

Local Area

Map of restaurants in the area within walking distance from the hotel


2023 Roybal Meeting Primary Contact
Contact for meeting related content
Nicole Donoghue

Rose Li Associates Primary Contact
Contact for meeting logistical support
Stephanie Tiller

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