Elwin Wu

Columbia University has awarded tenure to Associate Professor Elwin Wu, an MS alumnus of the School of Social Work who has a doctorate in a cellular and molecular biology from Harvard University, with a concentration in mathematical, non-linear modeling in systems neuroscience.

Committed to social justice for high-risk populations too often cast to the margins of society, Dr. Wu has drawn from his knowledge of biological systems and synergistic processes to inform research that bears significant implications for health services design and implementation. His unique capacity to utilize a multidisciplinary systems perspective shaped by biology and by social work’s ecological framework, as well as his expertise in advanced quantitative analysis, has been evident in the creative social intervention and prevention research methodologies he has devised for groundbreaking research on men who have sex with men (MSM), drug-involved persons, and offenders in both the U.S. and Central Asia.

Dr. Wu’s aim has been to construct social interventions to address the specific syndemics of HIV, drug involvement, and interpersonal violence. Here, he has an enviable record of accomplishments, conducting culturally syntonic research that incorporates cultural adaptations, anti-racism, and cultural humility perspectives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded Dr. Wu the first—and, at the time, only—federal research grant focused on couple-based intervention targeting this syndemic among MSM.

As associate director of the CUSSW Social Intervention Group (SIG), Dr. Wu has served as PI for seven externally sponsored research projects, two of which are R01s with funding totaling $4.5 million from the NIH.

Among the other research projects for which he serves as co-PI and co-director is the NIMH-funded HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Underrepresented New Investigators (HISTP).

“We anticipate with pride Dr. Wu’s future achievements as he joins the ranks of the tenured faculty at Columbia University and the School,” said Dean Jeanette Takamura, “and expect that his creative, rigorous scholarship will continue to present breakthroughs that will shape the landscape of scholarship on prevention, social intervention, and service systems related to MSM and high-risk populations.”

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