Current Research Areas of Interest

Substance Use

Many youth and young adults are exposed to substance use-related content via social media. We are using social media for insights into drug use behaviors, especially use of newly emerging drugs that are increasing in popularity. This information will help us understand how social media can be used for delivering substance use messages to young people.


As more and more people engage with social media, it is important to learn the motivations of individuals who publicly post about their depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm struggles via postings on social media. We are seeking to understand why this type of social networking occurs online and how it impacts users’ overall mental health.

Eating Disorders

There is increasing concern about online communities that promote eating disorder (ED) behaviors. We are exploring innovative strategies for online, accessible, and timely ED-related outreach that could facilitate novel ways to utilize social media in mental health promotion and prevention initiatives.

Our Team

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Principle Investigator

Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg is the principal investigator (PI) of iCHASM. She is a clinically-trained licensed psychologist who has been involved in biomedical research for over 10 years. After receiving her Ph.D. in Psychology from SUNY at Buffalo in 2004, she moved to Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in St. Louis, MO to begin her research career, focusing on understanding how policy and social media shape health risk behaviors of young people. In addition to her research, she is also a dedicated Associate Professor and was voted “Course Master of the Year” by students enrolled in the Master of Science in Applied Health Behavior Research program at WUSM.


Erin Kasson, MS, MSW

Clinical Research Coordinator

Ms. Kasson completed her undergraduate degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, with both Master’s of Science and Master’s of Social Work degrees from Saint Louis University. Ms. Kasson has previously worked and conducted research across a variety of mental disorders.


Xiao Li, MS

Data Analyst

Ms. Li completed her Master’s degree in Health Data Science from St. Louis University. She has experience with data mining of national databases and integrating machine learning algorithms into applications. Ms. Li has extensive experience with performing survival analysis, longitudinal analysis, and modeling of large population-based studies.

Raven Riordan

Professional Rater

Ms. Riordan completed her B.S. at the University of Missouri with a major in Biology and a minor in Spanish. She is currently pursuing admission into medical school and hopes to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has extensive experience conducting a variety of bench research as well as assisting patients overcome opioid addiction.

Nina Kaiser

Research Assistant

​Ms. Kaiser obtained her BA in Sociology at Saint Louis University and is now studying at SLU School of Medicine. She has extensive research experience studying the opioid crisis and maintains an interest in analyzing reproductive health disparities and the relationship between mental health and social media platforms. 

Nnenna Anako

Research Assistant

Ms. Anako is an MPH candidate specializing in Health Policy Analysis at Washington University. She attended the University of Arizona where she double majored in Psychology and Sociology. She has conducted research on the social and cultural implications of the Gold King Mine spill for Native American communities. After her undergraduate degree, Nnenna worked as a counselor, focusing on substance abuse, domestic violence and life skills. She is interested in mental healthcare access and policies for low income and under-served communities.

Andrea Fentem, MA

Project Manager

Ms. Fentem completed her undergraduate in psychology and her Masters in Clinical Psychology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She has clinical experience working with a wide-variety of populations, focusing specifically on the behavioral aspect of personality.

Christine Xu, MPH

Data Analyst

Ms. Xu recently received her MPH specializing in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Brown School at Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical engineering from Chengdu University of Technology in China. She is interested in psychiatric epidemiology, psychiatric genetics, health behavior, developmental psychology, and psychoanalysis. Ms. Xu has experience examining risk factors and psychiatric comorbidity of eating disorders and social anxiety disorder, and the effects of child maltreatment using data from genetically informative, longitudinal study designs. She is also conducting biostatistics research on reproducibility.

Briana Wilson

Professional Rater

Ms. Wilson is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia where she received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. After completing her studies, Briana returned to work in the hospital setting in one of the underrepresented areas of St. Louis. She has previous experience conducting research within the field of engineering.

Caroline Min

Research Assistant

Ms. Min is an MD/MPH candidate at Washington University (WU). Before beginning her medical training at WU School of Medicine, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. She hopes to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology. With one final year left in her medical training, she is now a graduate student of public health at WU Brown School. Within public health, she is interested in women’s, maternal-fetal, sexual, and reproductive health, and cancer disparities and prevention. She has experience working in medical and public health research.

Samantha Sansone

Research Assistant

Samantha is an undergraduate student at Washington University pursuing a B.A. in Entrepreneurship with a minor in Psychology. She has worked with the iCHASM team on and off since she was in high school and is happy to be back again this semester to help with all the ongoing research projects in the lab. 

Recent Findings

Using an app to deliver information about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

In this pilot study we examine the preliminary effectiveness of a mobile application, ‘uMAT-R’, that includes health information about opioid use disorder (OUD) recovery supported by science and MAT benefits.

Marijuana dispensary practices online

We found that marijuana dispensary websites are easily accessible to youth and suggests a need for surveillance of marijuana commercialization and online advertising, especially in the context of state policy reforms.

Detecting eating disorder symptoms on twitter

We investigated content of body image and ED-related content on Twitter and found that social media can be used for targeting prevention and intervention messages towards those who are in-need of support.

Social media identifying treatment barriers

This study demonstrates several barrier that occur for individuals struggling with depression, and that online platforms are effective mediums to recruit individuals with depression symptoms who seek mental health support.

News & Events

Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Annual Symposium (ICTS)- February 2020

Our project manager, Andrea Fentem, presented findings from our uMAT-R project, which aims to connect individuals who misuse opioids with a mobile app to support them throughout their recovery. Raven Riordan and Briana Wilson also presented a poster on our findings and participant feedback to date.

Recruitment at CARE clinic - November 2019

Raven Riordan, one of our Professional Raters, is recruiting pregnant and postpartum women at the CARE clinic to test our new recovery-focused mobile app.

WUSTL Institute for Public Health Conference - October 2019

We love sharing our findings! Briana, Raven, Andrea (L-R) present our preliminary research on treatment barriers among pregnant and postpartum Opioid users at this year’s 12th annual IPH conference: Healthy Moms And Babies: Paving The Path To Reproductive Equity


Dr. Cavazos-Rehg travelled to Uganda with the Brown School - July 2019

The experience offered great insight into potential new global mental health research opportunities, allowing our team to gain a deeper understanding on the cross-cultural meaning of personal health.

Southwestern School for Behavioral Health Studies Conference in Tuscon, AZ - August 2018

Celebrating a successful conference presentation with our industry partner, iTether, LLC, where we shared our collaborative work developing a mobile app to assist individuals with opioid use disorder.

From left to right: Demetrie Petkas (iTether), Patty Cavazos (iCHASM director), Sean Gunderson (iTether CEO)

UMSL STARS ceremony - July 2018

We love being a part of the STARS program! This year Dr. Cavazos was recognized with 5 years of service to the program. Here she celebrates with our STARS alumni and current RA, Nina.

Dr. Cavazos goes to Washington, D.C. - April 2018

While attending the Association for Clinical and Translational Sciences annual meeting, Dr. Cavazos had the opportunity to meet with Senator Roy Blunt’s team to discuss our research.