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Photo of Donenberg, Geri

Geri Donenberg, PhD

Professor of Medicine and Psychology

Director, Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science
Director, Healthy Youths Program

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases


Biographical Info:

Dr. Geri Donenberg received her Bachelor Degree in Psychology and Political Science at the University of Michigan and her Master of Arts and Doctoral Degree in clinical psychology from UCLA. She completed her psychology internship at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, and was a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa.

Dr. Donenberg directs the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science (CDIS) and the Healthy Youths Program (HYP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CDIS focuses on the processes that promote or inhibit the adoption of evidence-based and empirically-supported interventions in real-life settings in the US and globally. CDIS scholars examine the facilitators, barriers, and constraints to implementation, potential solutions to these factors, and the feasibility, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, health maintenance, acceptability, equity, and fidelity of interventions and programs. CDIS research seeks to identify and test new and innovative methodologies for diverse and underserved populations. HYP includes a number of HIV/AIDS risk and prevention studies for families and youth with mental health problems, teens involved in the juvenile justice system, and in international settings.

Dr. Donenberg has extensive experience conducting NIH-funded research nationally and internationally as Principal Investigator/Co-Principal/Co-Investigator of more than 20 federally-funded studies totaling more than $25 million. Her expertise spans basic longitudinal research, prevention and intervention development and adaptation, evidence-based program implementation, and the conduct of randomized controlled trials with diverse populations of children, adolescents and adults, including low-income families, traditionally underrepresented minorities, and young men who have sex with men. She has published over 95 peer-reviewed manuscripts underscoring the impact of family factors, individual attitudes and beliefs, and peer and partner characteristics related to adolescent and young adult sexual behavior and substance use, particularly youth with mental health problems and teens in the juvenile justice system. She has also published widely on youth outcomes related to HIV prevention interventions. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois since 1997. Dr. Donenberg dedicates considerable time to mentoring early-stage investigators, and serves as an official mentor in four national initiatives. She supervises and mentors psychology interns, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty, is a fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program and a licensed clinical psychologist, and she has served on numerous review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the CDC since 1998.


Dissemination and implementation science; HIV/AIDS risk and prevention; Adolescent mental health; Juvenile justice; International research; Families and youth



  1. “An Integrative HIV Prevention Program for African American Mothers and Daughters,” known as IMARA, (R01MD006198) is a 5-year 2-arm randomized controlled trial to reduce HIV-risk among African American women and daughters receiving mental health services.
  2. “PHAT Life: Preventing HIV Among Juvenile Offenders” (R01MD005861) is a 5-year 2-arm randomized controlled trial to reduce risky sexual behavior, substance use, and mental health problems among juvenile offenders on probation.
  3. “Peer Versus Adult-Led HIV Prevention for Juvenile Offenders: Effectiveness and Costs” (R01MD010433) is a 5-year study to identify the most effective and sustainable way to implement the PHAT Life program within juvenile justice settings.
  4. “Improving Adherence to Treatment Regimens for HIV-Positive Adolescents and Young Adults,” known as Kigali Imbereheza Project (KIP) (R01HD074977), is a randomized controlled trial based in Kigali, Rwanda that seeks to test an adherence-enhanced, developmentally appropriate, culturally adapted trauma informed cognitive behavioral intervention (TI-CBTe) on antiretroviral therapy adherence among HIV+ Rwandan youth.
  5. “Employing eSBI in a Community-Based HIV Testing Environment for At-risk Youth,” known as Step Up Test Up (R01DA041071; PIs: Rob Garofalo and Niranjin Karnik), is a randomized controlled trial to test whether an electronic brief intervention will reduce alcohol and other substance use among youth aged 16-25, recruited from HIV testing locations throughout the city of Chicago and including men who have sex with men, transgender women, and transgender men.
  6. “Evaluating a Group-Based Intervention to Improve Mental Health and ART Adherence Among Youth Living with HIV in Low Resource Settings” (Sponsor: International Maternal Pediatric And Adolescent Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) network, co-chairs: Dorothy Dow and Geri Donenberg) is a multi-site, 2-arm, randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether an Indigenous Leader Outreach Model (ILOM) of trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy (TI-CBT), adapted to local contexts, is associated with improved mental health outcomes and ART adherence among 15-19 year-olds youth living with HIV and mental health distress.
  7. “South Africa STYLE: HIV Prevention for South African Youth and Families” (R34MH092251) is a 3-year developmental project to adapt and test a family-based HIV prevention program for South African teens in psychiatric care.
  8. “Building AIDS Research Capacity for Indonesia at Atma Jaya Catholic University” (R24 HD056642; PI: Judith Levy) includes a pilot study to design, adapt, and test an HIV prevention program for street youth in Jakarta.
  9. “Violence Exposure and HIV Risk in Adolescent Women of Color” (PI: Helen Wilson; R03MH086361) explores the history of violence exposure among African American girls.
  10. “Psychiatric Diagnoses Among IV Drug Users” (PI: Larry Ouellet; R01DA020368) is a 4-year study to examine the severity of psychiatric illness among 18 – 24 year old injection drug users.
  11. “HIV Prevention for Youth with Severe Mental Illness” (PI: Larry Brown; R01MH63008) is a 9-year, multisite, 3-arm randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of a family-based HIV prevention program for youth with serious mental health problems.
  12. “Therapeutic Schools: Affect Management & HIV Prevention” (R01MH066641) is a 5-year multi-site 3-arm randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of a school-based affect management HIV prevention program.


List of Accomplishments/Awards/Honor:
2017 Member, Adolescent HIV Prevention and Treatment Implementation Science Alliance
2015 Researcher of the Year, Distinguished Clinical Scientist, University of Illinois at Chicago


Graduate School: UCLA
Internship: UCLA