Diana Fishbein


Ph.D., Florida State University

Director, Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center (PRC), C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Prevention Research, and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Director, PRC Program for Translational Research on Adversity and Neurodevelopment (P-TRAN)

President, National Prevention Coalition to Improve Lives

Contact Information

302 BBH Building




Brief Biography

Diana H. Fishbein is the C. Eugene Bennett Chair of the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University and she directs the Center's Program for Translational Research on Adversity and Neurodevelopment. Her adjunct professor positions include at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and she is a faculty subcontractor at Georgetown University, and a guest researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program. Fishbein’s studies utilize transdisciplinary methods and a developmental approach to understand interactions between neurobiological processes and environmental factors. The ultimate goal is to translate scientific findings to practice and policies designed to prevent mental health, emotional and behavioral problems. Her research supports the premise that underlying neurobiological mechanisms interact with the quality of our psychosocial experiences and environmental contexts to alter trajectories either toward or away from risk behaviors. Given the inherent translational nature of this research, she co-founded the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives, a national organization dedicated to the transfer of knowledge from the basic to the applied sciences as well as practical settings and public health policies. Fishbein has published about 100 papers and several books.


1981, Ph.D., Joint Degree in Criminology and Psychobiology (minor in Statistics), Florida State University

Professional Experience

2015-present: Director, Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

2014-2015: Professor and Director of Center for Translational Research on Adversity, Neurodevelopment and Substance Abuse, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine

2013-present: Founder and President, National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives, a non-profit national association to promote transfer of scientific knowledge to communities and policy-makers.

2009-2014: Program Director and Senior Fellow, Transdisciplinary Science and Translational Prevention Program, RTI International

2012-present: Adjunct Faculty, University of Maryland School of Medicine

2000-present: Guest Researcher, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse

2002-present: Adjunct Faculty, Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health

1996-1999: Research Faculty, Drug Abuse Prevention and Evaluation, HIDTA Research Program, University of Maryland

1981-1994: Professor, University of Baltimore, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Research Interests

The program of research I have developed includes both children/adolescents and adults to focus on 3 interrelated themes: (i) identifying underlying neurobiological predictors and mediators of intervention outcomes, in interaction with contextual and environmental conditions; (ii) isolating consequences from precursors of drug and alcohol initiation and escalation; and (iii) assessing influences of environmental and psychosocial factors on neurodevelopment and function that affect risk for behavioral disorders and, in turn, intervention responsivity.

Examples of Current Projects

Mechanisms Underlying the Relationship between Sleep Problems and Drug Use in Adolescents

This prospective, longitudinal R01 study is designed to elucidate mechanisms underlying the relationship between sleep ‎problems and propensity to drug/alcohol use in adolescents, from age 10 through 20. Our integrative, temporal model theorizes that ‎sleep problems will be significant predictors of drug/alcohol initiation and escalation of use in adolescents. ‎We propose further that this relationship can be explained at least in part by emotion dysregulation, as ‎measured by tasks that recruit affective limbic structures and perturbations in neuroendocrine (cortisol) ‎functioning. Level of cognitive functioning will moderate the relationship between sleep problems and drug ‎use. Exposure to prolonged stress is expected to amplify the mediational relationship. Finally, the model ‎predicts that eventual drug use will exacerbate sleep problems and lead to further decrements in sleep, ‎emotion regulation, and cognition, promoting an escalating pattern of use. ‎

Developmental fMRI Study of Alcohol Use in Adolescence

This fMRI ‎study comprehensively assesses and follows a relatively large cohort of substance naïve adolescents (aged 11-13 at baseline) over a five year period to prospectively ‎identify neurodevelopmental precursors of alcohol use initiation and escalation, and subsequent neurocognitive ‎consequences of alcohol use and heavy drinking. We also have a NIH supplement to expand this work to other abusable substances. Illuminating the risk factors for and effects of alcohol use on ‎the development of neurocognitive skills has implications for designing interventions aimed at developmental ‎cognitive and emotional regulatory processes, especially since such impairments can undermine intervention ‎efforts.

Transdisciplinary Approach to Understand Variability in Preventive Intervention Outcomes

This study is the first in-depth intervention trial to incorporate recent findings from neuroscience into developmental psychology and prevention science to better understand why many children do not respond favorably to universal school-based preventive interventions; what features distinguish them from good responders and how do they operate to influence intervention effects? Answering these questions will lead to more effective ways to improve behavioral and academic performance in the greatest number and to more efficiently direct developmentally sensitive program components to the highest-risk children. Early school-aged children (kindergarten through second grade) were evaluated for neurocognitive, emotional regulatory and stress physiological functioning to determine their role in intervention effects. This approach represents a substantial innovation with invaluable implications for public health by reducing behavioral and drug abuse disorders in youths, thereby addressing rising pressures toward accountability and maximization of impact.

Recent Publications

Fishbein, D.H., Miller, S., Herman-Stahl, M., Williams, J., Lavery, B., Markovits, L., Kluckman, M., Mosoriak, G., & Johnson, M. (in press). Behavioral and psychophysiological effects of a mindful yoga curriculum on high-risk adolescents: A randomized control trial. Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Edwards, S., Reeves, G., & Fishbein, D.H. (2015). Integrative model of the relationship between sleep problems and risk for youth substance use. Current Addictions Report (April 3).

Fishbein, D., & Ridenour, T. (2013). Advancing transdisciplinary translation for prevention of high-risk behaviors: Introduction to the special issue. Prevention Science, 14(3), 201–205. PMID:23579566

Bradshaw, C., Goldweber, A., Fishbein, D., & Greenberg, M. (2012). Infusing developmental neuroscience into school-based preventive interventions: Implications and future directions. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, S41–47. PMID: 22794533