Dr. Ezemenari Obasi

Dr. Ezemenari M Obasi


Title: Professor & Associate Dean for Research

Department: Office of Research, Office of the Dean

Program: Counseling Psychology

Office Number: 466-G FH

Phone: 713-743-4698

Email: emobasi@uh.edu

Website: http://hahdl.coe.uh.edu

Research Interests:

Dr. Obasi has a current program of research that focuses on the neurobiology of stress, addictions, health disparities that disproportionately affect the African American community, and cultural predictors of health behaviors. As the director of the Hwemudua Addictions and Health Disparities Laboratory (HAHDL) at the University of Houston (UH) – a Biosafety Level II laboratory – he takes an interdisciplinary approach (incl., biomarkers, biofeedback, implicit cognitions, genetics, fMRI, experimental manipulations, etc.) and uses a diverse range of settings (incl., community, bar lounge, experimental rooms, medical facilities, etc.) to investigate biological, psychological, social, and cultural determinants of health. Dr. Obasi was an Early Career Mentee in the NIDA funded Transdisciplinary Center Focused on Rural African American Families (P30DA027827, PI: Brody) and recently completed a NIDA funded study entitled, Stress and Drug Use Vulnerability in Rural African Americans (R03DA027481, PI: Obasi). This study established a successful interdisciplinary research team that is committed to addressing health disparities and creating prevention programs that can have a positive impact on marginalized communities. Moreover, it provided strong preliminary data that supported Dr. Obasi’s current NIDA funded study entitled, Stress and Drug Use in the African American Community (R01DA034739, PI: Obasi). This project is one of the core qualifying R01s for the recently funded center of excellence: Vulnerability to Drug Use and HIV: Advancing Prevention for Rural African Americans (P30DA027827, PI: Brody) – where he serves on the Advisory Board, Pilot Core, and Inflammation / Neuroendocrine Core. Additionally, Dr. Obasi serves as MPI on a United Health Foundation grant that provides obesity and diabetes primary prevention services and intervention programs to Houston's Third Ward and East End communities. Dr. Obasi is the creator of two cultural assessment tools (i.e., Worldview Analysis Scale; Measurement of Acculturation Strategies for People of African Descent). He also has unique expertise in studying African / African American culture and mental health. This includes human laboratory studies, field data collections in African and African American communities, and large-scale longitudinal research designs.

Prospective Doctoral Students: Dr. Obasi is interested in mentoring students who would like to pursue a research career at a research intensive institution with a passion for investigating the effects of stress physiology, genetics, cultural worldview/practices, social environment, and/or drug use vulnerability on the development of health disparities. Ultimately, Dr. Obasi is committed to bringing about positive change to underserved and marginalized populations in the U.S. and beyond.

Recent Grants:

A community collaborative for preventing and treating obesity in underserved communities in Houston (1667). United Health Foundation, Washington, DC. Multiple Principal Investigator. 2016 – 2019. Awarded: $2,000,000.

Supporting early career and minority drug abuse research at the APA convention (R13DA038955). NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse, R13. Bethesda, MD. Principal Investigator. 2016 – 2019. Awarded: $75,000.

Vulnerability to drug use and HIV: Advancing prevention for rural African Americans (P30DA027827). NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse, P30. Bethesda, MD. Co-Investigator (Subcontract PI). 2014 – 2019. Total Cost: $4,644,929. (Co-Investigator and PI on qualifying R01; PI: Gene Brody).

Stress and drug use vulnerability in the African American Community (R01DA034739). NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse, R01. Bethesda, MD. Principal Investigator. 2013 – 2017. Awarded: $2,525,288.

Transdisciplinary center focused on rural African American families (P30DA027827). NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse, P30. Bethesda, MD. Co-Investigator. 2009 – 2014. Awarded: $4,408,638.

Stress and drug use vulnerability in rural African Americans (R03DA027481). NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse, R03. Bethesda, MD. Principal Investigator. 2009 – 2012. Awarded: $471,683.


Recent Publications:

Obasi, E. M., Shirtcliff, E., Cavanagh, L., Ratliff, K. L., Pittman, D. M., & Brooks, J. J. (in press). Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Reactivity to Acute Stress: An Investigation into the Roles of Perceived Stress and Family Resources. Prevention Science.

Obasi, E. M., Tackett, J. L., Shirtcliff, E. A., & Cavanagh, L. (in press). The effects of alcohol and cigarette consumption on dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in rural African Americans. Manuscript submitted for publication. Journal of Black Psychology.

Pittman, D. M., Brooks, J. J., Kaur, P., & Obasi, E. M. (in press). The cost of minority stress: Risky drinking behavior and coping motivated alcohol use in Black college students. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse.

Pittman, D. M., Kim, S. C., Hunter, C. D., Obasi, E. M. (in press). The Role of Minority Stress in Second-Generation Black Emerging Adults’ High-Risk Drinking Behaviors. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Reitzel, L. R., Childress, S. D., Obasi, E. M., Garey, L., Vidrine, D. J., McNeill, L. H., & Zvolensky, M. J. (in press). Interactive effects of anxiety sensitivity and subjective social status on psychological symptomatology in Black adults. Behavioral Medicine.

Reitzel, L. R., Smith, N. G., Obasi, E. M., Forney, M., & Leventhal, A. M. (in press). Perceived distress tolerance accounts for the covariance between discrimination experiences and anxiety symptoms among sexual minority adults. Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

Shirtcliff, E. A., Skinner, M. L., Obasi, E. M., & Haggerty, K. P. (in press). Positive parenting predicts calibration of cortisol functioning six years later in young adults. Developmental Science.

Obasi, E. M., Brooks, J. J., & Cavanagh, L. (2016). The relationship between psychological distress, negative cognitions, and expectancies on problem drinking: Exploring a growing problem among university students. Behavioral Modification, 40(1-2),51-69.

Obasi, E. M., Cavanagh, L., Pittman, D. M., & Brooks, J. J. (2016). Effects of evaluative context in implicit cognitions associated with alcohol and violent behaviors. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 3, 48-55.

Reitzel, L. R., Okamoto, H., Hernandez, D. C., Regan, S. D., McNeill, L. H., & Obasi, E. M. (2016). The built food environment and dietary intake among African-American adults. American Journal of Health Behavior, 40, 3-11.

Cavanagh, L., & Obasi, E. M. (2015). The moderating role of implicit alcohol-related cognitions in hazardous alcohol use. Addiction Research & Theory, 23(5), 380-390.

El-Behadli, A. F., Sharp, C., Hughes, S. O., Obasi, E. M., & Nicklas, T. A. (2015). Maternal depression, stress and feeding styles: Towards a framework for theory and research in child obesity. British Journal of Nutrition, 113, S55-S51.

Obasi, E. M., Shirtcliff, E. A., Brody, G. H., MacKillop, J., Pittman, D., Cavanagh, L., & Philibert, R. A. (2015). The relationship between alcohol consumption, perceived stress, and CRHR1 genotype on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in rural African Americans. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:832.

Brody, G. H., Yu, T., MacKillop, J., Miller, G., Chen, E., Obasi, E. M., & Beach, S. R. H. (2014). Catecholamine levels and delayed discounting forecasting drug use among African American youth. Addiction, 109(7), 1112-1118. PMID: 24521257

Beasley, M., Sabatinelli, D., & Obasi, E. M. (2012). Neuroimaging evidence for social rank theory. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,6, 1-3.

Obasi, E. M., Richards, J. L., Pittman, D. M., Ingram, J., Beasley, M. R., & Ratliff, K. L. (2012). The roles of race and sex in addition research. In J. Mackillop & H. de Wit (Eds.). Handbook of Addiction Psychopharmacology. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.

Obasi, E. M., Speight, S. L., Rowe, D. T, Clark, L., & Turner-Essel, L. (2012). The Association of Black Psychologists: An organization dedicated toward social justice. The Counseling Psychologist, 40(5), 656-674.

Brody, G. H., Beach, S. R. H., Chen, Y. F., Obasi, E. M., Philibert, R. A., Kogan, S. M., Simons, R. L. (2011). Perceived discrimination, serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region status, and the development of conduct problems. Development and Psychopathology, 23(2), 617-627. PMID: 23786700

Caldwell, T. L., & Obasi, E. M. (2010). Academic Performance in African American Undergraduates: Effects of Cultural Mistrust, Educational Value, and Achievement Motivation. Journal of Career Development, 36(4), 348-368.

MacKillop, J., Obasi, E. M., Amlung, M., McGeary, J., & Knopik, V. (2010). The role of genetics in nicotine dependence: Mapping the pathways from genome to syndrome. Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports, 4(6), 446-453. PMID: 21686075

Obasi, E. M., & Leong, F. T. L. (2010). Construction and validation of the Measurement of Acculturation Strategies for People of African Descent (MASPAD). Cultural Diversity
and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16(4), 526-539. PMID: 21058816

Walker, R. L., Alabi, D., Roberts, J., & Obasi, E. M. (2010). Ethnic group differences in reasons for living and the moderating role of cultural worldview. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16(3), 372-378. PMID: 20658880

Obasi, E. M., Flores L. Y., & James-Myers, L. (2009). Construction and initial validation of the Worldview Analysis Scale. Journal of Black Studies, 39(6), 937-961.

Obasi, E. M., & Leong, F. T. L. (2009). Psychological distress, acculturation, and mental health seeking attitudes among people of African descent in the United States: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56(2), 227-238.



B.S. in Physics, University of California - Irvine, 2000
Professional Certification in Quantitative Psychology: Psychometrics and Data Analysis, The Ohio State University, 2004
Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, The Ohio State University, 2005
Predoctoral Clinical Internship, Harvard Medical School – McLean Hospital, 2005