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S.M.A.R.T. Cougars: Substance Use, Mental Health, and HIV/AIDS Risk Assessment and Testing Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Please ask about our free HIV testing and other services.  We are located at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center; office hours are 8:00am – 5:00pm; Monday – Friday or by appointment. Contact 713.743.1273 to learn more or email us at uhsmartcougars@uh.edu

About S.M.A.R.T. Cougars
Meet the Team
Meet the Funders
Community Partner
Community Advisory Group


About S.M.A.R.T. Cougars

SMART Cougars: Substance Use, Mental Health, and HIV/AIDS Risk Assessment and Testing (Dr. Luis R. Torres, PI) is a partnership between The University of Houston and Houston Area Community Services, Inc (HACS). HACS is a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center since 2009 and has been providing HIV/AIDS services since 1998 when it started as an AIDS Service Organization.

SMART Cougars prevents and reduces substance abuse and transmission of HIV/AIDS among Hispanic/Latino and African American college students ages 18-24 at the University of Houston, as well as the communities surrounding the university. SMART Cougars offers UH students ages 18 - 24 the knowledge and skills needed to live a healthy life on campus and in their communities, by increasing their knowledge and decreasing their risks for HIV/AIDS and substance use disorders. We also extend our activities into the communities surrounding the UH campus, in collaboration with local CBOs, targeting minority young adults who may not be UH students but are also in need of prevention services.

SMART Cougars conducted a comprehensive needs assessment of the campus and surrounding communities; expands capacity to address substance abuse and HIV prevention needs; develops and executes a data-driven comprehensive strategic plan; implements an array of evidence-based practices, including VOICES/VOCES (a video-based HIV/STD prevention program for African-American and Hispanic adult men and women), and Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to delivering early intervention and treatment services for individuals at risk of developing substance use disorders and those who already have a substance-related disorders). SMART Cougars significantly expands HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention efforts on campus and surrounding communities.  

Contact 713.743.1273 to learn more or email us at uhsmartcougars@uh.edu

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Meet the Team

Dr.  Luis Torres
Dr. Luis R. Torres is Associate Professor at UH GCSW and a Research Scientist in the Center for Drug and Social Policy Rese arch. He will be responsible for the administrative and scientific leadership of the primary study. As PI/Project Director, Dr. Torres will be responsible for all aspects of the development and implementation of SMART Cougars, including: staffing; conducting the needs assessments on campus and in the surrounding communities; analyzing data from the needs assessments and developing the strategic plan; securing SAMHSA approval of the strategic plan; securing IRB approval; constituting the Advisory Board; implementing all SMART Cougar activities (e.g., HIV CTR; HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention interventions) in compliance with all ethical and legal guidelines; and reporting on project implementation and outcomes. Dr. Torres will also lead data analyses and interpretation efforts and ensure dissemination efforts via a steady stream of presentations and publications.

lrtorres@Central.UH.EDU

Dr. Patrick Bordnick
Dr. Bordnick is the Associate Dean of Research for the Graduate College of Social Work and is also the Evaluator on the SMART Cougars team. Dr. Bordnick has over seventeen years’ experience in clinical and laboratory research on cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, amphetamine, and nicotine addiction, including with minority populations. Bordnick will work closely with Dr. Torres to examine performance indicators pertaining to SMART Cougars. Using his expertise in addiction and empirical program evaluation, Dr. Bordnick will provide support to SMART Cougars and oversee performance assessment methodologies.
psbordni@Central.UH.EDU

Maria Wilson
Ms. Wilson is the Project Coordinator for the SMART Cougars team. She will supervise the daily operations of the proposed project and oversee all related activities. The Project Coordinator will assist in all logistical aspects related to CTR and prevention sessions, including securing space, scheduling, etc. In addition to planning, the coordinator will evaluate, prioritize and review demands for the project. The Project Coordinator will seek appropriate support and guidance when required from the principal investigator (Dr. Torres). Ms. Wilson will supervise the proper implementation of the collection of all data. He/she will establish a relationship with the project’s CBO partner (HACS) and with local CBOs to sustain continuity of the project’s recruiting efforts. The person will prepare monthly reports about the status of the project and submit to the PI. She will assist the PI with study reports and related publications.
mwilson3@Central.UH.EDU

Evelio Salinas Escamilla
Mr. Escamilla is the Research Administrator for the Graduate College of Social Work and assists the SMART Cougars team with the evaluation and program development.
esescami@Central.UH.EDU

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Meet the Funders

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)

Funding Announcement Title:  Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), Partnerships with Community-Based Organizations (CBO); Short Title: MSI/CBO

Project Period: 09/30/2013 – 09/29/2016

Grant Number: 1H79SP020184

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Community Partner

Houston Area Community Services, Inc. 
HACS will receive approximately 40 percent of the proposed budget and we will hire and fund the staff necessary to execute the program. These HACS-based team members will work closely with the team members based in your Research Center to execute the project. HACS will collect and report all HIV clinical data as per state and federal regulations.  The substantial Mexican/Mexican American research expertise of the Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) at the University of Houston, and the extensive clinical and HIV services expertise of HACS will provide promising outcomes with this college student population and surrounding Mexican/Mexican American and other Latino communities. The University of Houston Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB) will approve all initial and renewal protocols for this project.

Furthermore, HACS applauds this innovative and very significant proposal for service delivery within the University of Houston, and we will add our own expertise to the effort. Your team brings to the table broad National Institutes of Health expertise in accessing and conducting culturally-grounded research in Mexican/Mexican American communities, and particularly with Mexican/Mexican American IDUs.

HACS will serve as the direct provider of HIV primary medical care for individuals who test positive, and also as the provider of substance abuse treatment services. HACS is a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center since 2009, and we have been providing HIV/ AIDS services since 1998 when we started as an AIDS Service Organization. We are a current recipient of Ryan White Part A funds; designated as a Community Healthcare Center (CHC) and Public Housing Primary Care (PHPC) provider; and accredited by the Joint Commission for Ambulatory Care and Behavioral Health. We provide a vast array of services including: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Pharmacy (340B), Medication Assistance, Behavioral Health Services, Case Coordination Services, Evidenced Based Health Promotion, and Housing-related Services. Current HIV related prevention activities include HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral (HIV/CTR).

HACS will serve as the direct provider of HIV primary medical care for individuals who test positive, and also as the provider of substance abuse treatment services. HACS is a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center since 2009, and we have been providing HIV/ AIDS services since 1998 when we started as an AIDS Service Organization. We are a current recipient of Ryan White Part A funds; designated as a Community Healthcare Center (CHC) and Public Housing Primary Care (PHPC) provider; and accredited by the Joint Commission for Ambulatory Care and Behavioral Health. We provide a vast array of services including: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Pharmacy (340B), Medication Assistance, Behavioral Health Services, Case Coordination Services, Evidenced Based Health Promotion, and Housing-related Services. Current HIV related prevention activities include HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral (HIV/CTR).

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Community Advisory Group

  • Reuben Parrish, MPH, MCHES, CHWC, Program Coordinator, UH Wellness - Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services
  • John A. Shiflet, Program Director-Cougars in Recovery, Collegiate Recovery Community
  • Amana S. Turner, Program Coordinator, HIV Prevention Services, Change Happens
  • Adriana Diabello, Program Manager, Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans
  • 2 community residents (representative of our target population) 

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Contact 713.743.1273 to learn more or email us at uhsmartcougars@uh.edu