News & Events


November 1, 2013

Cynthia Pearson, PhD, Assistant Research Professor and Associate Director, IWRI Research and Policy Core

IMG_1271Cynthia Pearson (Hungarian Jewish ally), PhD, is a research assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the UW.  She received her PhD in Health Services at the UW’s School of Public Health in 2006.  Trained as a sociologist and health services scientist, Dr. Pearson has a strong commitment to making healthcare widely accessible to those who need it most.

Cynthia’s commitment to social justice and passion for working alongside underserved communities is further strengthened by her leadership position in IWRI.  As Associate Director of the IWRI-NCoE Research and Policy Core and Co-Director of its Methods Core, she leads a team of scholars that provides methodological expertise to core affiliates and directors in the areas of epidemiologic and survey methods, statistical analysis, and data management for socio-behavioral studies and preventive interventions.

Cynthia strives to work in a truly collaborative and bidirectional way with communities – addressing their priorities, in their settings, and from their cultural perspective. She has developed HIV/AIDS–related, community-driven interventions among underserved populations worldwide using an ecological perspective (i.e., individual behavior, social and physical environments). She has worked on randomized control trials in diverse settings, including Mozambique, China, along the U.S.-Mexico border, and with indigenous communities in the U.S. This HIV medication adherence work has been packaged by the Centers for Disease Control in its HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Synthesis Project.

DSC_0652Cynthia is currently PI of three studies: (1) “Cognitive Processing Intervention for HIV/STI & Substance Use among Native Women” funded by the National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA); (2) “Making Suicide Everyone’s Business:  A Native American Community Approach,” subcontract funding from the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Grant Program; and (3) “Sacred Journey – Young Native Women’s Wellness Study,” funded by the Center for AIDS Research:  New Investigator Award.  In addition, she is a Co-I of three studies:  (4) “Indigenous HIV/AIDS Research Training,” funded by the National Institute of Mental Health; (5) “Developing a Computer-Based Intervention to Prevent HIV among Native American Men who have Sex with Men,” funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities; and (6) “Caring for Our Generations,” funded by NIDA.

She was also the PI of a very recently-completed study on ethical concerns, (7) “Human Subject Research Training for Curriculum for Community Researchers: A Pacific Northwest Native American Cultural Prospective”; and was a Co-I of (8) “Research for Improved Health:  A National Study of Community-Academic Partnerships.”

Cynthia has helped grow IWRI from a handful of people to its current staff of over twenty personnel.  “I feel very fortunate to be working with my IWRI colleagues, who have mentored me in working in culturally-diverse settings across Indian Country.  The recent designation and funding of IWRI as a National Center of Excellence is very exciting, for it means that our partnerships with indigenous communities will continue to grow as we work together to craft innovative solutions based on indigenous strengths and knowledge to address health disparities and social injustices.”