David Black, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences

 

Health Equity Interests

I study the impact of mindfulness training on human behavior using clinical trials methods.

Biography

Dr. Black an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is also a member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Director of Education for the USC Center for Mindfulness Science. His research had been funded by university, private, and federal grants for over 17 years. He as authored and co-authored over 75 peer-reviewed articles in journals including JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Pediatrics, Cancer, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, Behaviour Research and Therapy, and Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Black began his early career in the health sciences and earned a Master of Public Health degree and directed his first grant-funded human subjects research study prior to finishing his masters thesis. He trained as a NIH National Cancer Institute predoctoral fellow for five years at the USC Institute for Prevention Research, where he latter earned his Ph.D. The focus of his doctoral training was in substance misuse prevention and addictions research. He had self-studied contemplative theory and practices over the previous decade, and realized an opportunity to merge his passion for the contemplative studies with his training in the health sciences. He continued advanced training as a NIH National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. He focused his research effort on conducting a randomized controlled trial to test the impact of mindfulness training on sleep and inflammation in older adults with sleep problems. He went on to articulate a novel conceptual model to illustrate how mindfulness training exerts biological influence from brain to body using a genomic signal transduction framework with downstream biological impact on sympathetic nervous system activity, release of norepinephrine at nerve terminals, activation of b-adrenergic receptors on adjacent cells, and the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway that ultimately regulates gene expression by stimulating transcription factors, particularly those associated with the propagation of inflammation in peripheral blood. He recently completed a NIH NIDA R01 randomized controlled trial testing mindfulness training added to residential treatment for substance use disorder. He is currently co-PI of a clinical trial testing an app-based mindfulness training for smoking cessation that recruits smokers from across the state of California. He enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, was awarded the 2015 USC Mentoring Award for graduate students from the Center for Excellence in Teaching. He enjoys spending time with his family in nature, fly fishing, camping, and reading.

Research Interests

  • Smoking Cessation
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Behavior Change
  • Health Behavior
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Stress
  • Research Design and Methods

Courses Taught

  • Health Behavior Research Methods
  • Scientific Writing to Get Cited
  • Theories of Health Behavior