Associate Dean for Research Appointed

Dr. Victoria Behar-Zusman, tenured professor at University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS), accepted the administrative leadership position, effective December 2020
Associate Dean for Research Appointed

As associate dean for research at SONHS, Victoria Behar-Zusman (f.k.a. Mitrani), PhD, is responsible for overseeing and growing the school’s research portfolio, mentoring early- and mid-career faculty, and leading the school’s PhD in Nursing program. Behar-Zusman previously served as the school’s associate dean for research from 2011 to 2018 and PhD program director between 2012 and 2016.

“Dr. Behar-Zusman’s outstanding track record of leading major multidisciplinary research initiatives at this institution has helped build the School of Nursing and Health Studies into a formidable force in the science of health disparities,” says Dean Cindy L. Munro. “I welcome her return to such an important schoolwide role. Her rigor, dedication, and agility will prove invaluable at this complex juncture for higher education and community health investigation.”

A Cuban-born clinical psychologist specializing in family therapy, cultural-related phenomena, and health disparities, Behar-Zusman has a 30-year record of National Institutes of Health-funded research. Her work is focused on developing interventions tailored for ethnic and racial minorities, as well as other underserved communities. Most recently, she has been the principal investigator (PI) in a clinical trial to test Healthy Home, a home-health intervention for mothers with mental health disorders.

Behar-Zusman is also PI for the school’s Center for Latino Health Research Opportunities (CLaRO), an NIH-funded Center of Excellence aimed at addressing substance abuse, violence/trauma, and HIV/AIDS among vulnerable Latino communities. She chairs UM’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board and serves on the Executive Committee of the University’s Clinical Translational Science Institute.

In response to the global pandemic, Behar-Zusman led development of the COVID-19 Household Environment Scale, a bilingual research tool designed to measure the impact of social distancing and quarantining on family conflict and cohesion. In November, she was named to a statewide team led by UM’s Miller School of Medicine as part of the NIH’s Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) to combat COVID-19 disparities.

Committed to promoting the career development of emerging health disparities researchers, Behar-Zusman mentors students in the PhD program and serves as a mentor in the school’s NIH-funded program Training the Next Generation of Global Health Disparities Scientists. She also mentors early-career investigators through CLaRO and as lead of the Investigator Development Core of UM’s Center for HIV and Research in Mental Health (CHARM). In 2020, she was appointed to the Dean’s Special Advisory Committee on Faculty Diversity.

Behar-Zusman is a lifelong ’Cane. Prior to joining SONHS as a professor in 2006, she was an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Miller School and earned bachelor’s (1980) and PhD (1986) degrees in psychology from UM.

“I’m honored to have a second opportunity to guide the research enterprise and research training at the SONHS,” expresses Behar-Zusman. “With our talented group of faculty researchers, and clinicians, outstanding team of research personnel and administrators, and state-of-the-art facilities, we are positioned to continue advancing clinical and health promotion science for the most vulnerable members of society.”