Silvia Martins Honored by National Hispanic Science Network for Excellence in Mentorship

October 5, 2021

Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, Columbia Mailman School associate professor of epidemiology, is the recipient of the 2021 National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from the National Hispanic Science Network (NHSN). Martins, presented with the mentorship award at NHSN’s annual international conference, was honored for her outstanding mentorship in the area of Hispanic drug abuse to graduate students and early-career investigators, resulting in successful grant applications and peer-reviewed publications. 

Working in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the organization is dedicated to making significant advances in the field of drug abuse research. Established in 2001 to improve the health equity of Hispanics, NHSN has grown from 50 members to a current membership base of over 500.

At Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Martins is director of the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit of the Department of Epidemiology, and the Policy and Health Initiatives on Opioids and other Substances interdisciplinary group (PHIOS). She is also the co-director of the NIDA T32 Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Program and the Course Director of Principles of Epidemiology. Martins has led or co-authored more than 220 peer-reviewed epidemiological and substance use articles including over 100 of them led by her current or former mentees. Several of her current and former US and International mentees have received conference awards, including the CPDD NIDA Director’s travel award, the Society for Epidemiologic Research best poster award, the Best New Paper Award, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco; and been selected for junior faculty leadership programs such as the Duke LEADER program.

Over the years, Martins has also mentored graduate students and junior faculty from Brazil, Lebanon, France, and Chile via Columbia University Global Center internal funding,  as well as NIDA-Invest (Castaldelli-Maia) and NIDA-INSERM (AzevedoDeSilva) funding. Her trainees have published widely in peer-reviewed journals and received several awards recognizing their scientific and service achievements. They have attained academic research positions in the U.S. and globally. Her mentees are now spread across different countries and continents (the Americas, Middle East, and Asia).  She strives to give them opportunities to present their research and lead projects while offering career advice. 

Some of Martins’ notable research findings have focused on a typology of prescription drug monitoring programs and their impact on prescription opioid and heroin overdoses, machine learning techniques to better understand opioid policies associated with high-opioid prescribing, the effects of recreational cannabis laws in cannabis use outcomes in the general US population 12+ and by race/ethnicity,  risk factors for substance use and psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents in Brazil and the relationship between COVID-19 and substance use/mental health in Brazil.

In 2021, Martins also received the Columbia University Irving Medical Center Mentor of the Year Award, and the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Sciences Award for Excellence in Mentoring. In 2017, Martins received the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring. More recently, she was selected as one of the School's 2021-2023 Tow Leadership Scholars and she received one of the 2021 Calderone Health Equity awards. In Fall 2021 Martins was also elected to the Mailman School’s Faculty Senate. Her current research focuses on the consequences of medical and recreational marijuana laws in the U.S, recreational marijuana laws in Uruguay, prescription drug monitoring programs, the synergistic effects of opioid policies and marijuana policies on opioid-related harm outcomes, unemployment insurance, and opioid-related harm outcomes, and drug overdoses in Latin America. She has been continuously funded by NIH since 2006 as a principal Investigator.