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Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, PhD

Global Psychiatry

UCLA Faculty

Dr. Rotheram is a clinical psychologist who designs, develops, and implements groundbreaking programs to prevent a range of negative outcomes for children and families. She was trained at the University of So. CA and was a faculty member at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute for many years, before coming to UCLA. She is currently a Professor in Child Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA and the Director of the UCLA Global Center for Children and Families, as well as a federally-funded center for HIV (Center for HIV Prevention, Identification, and Treatment Services). She has brought more than $270 million in grants to UCLA over the last 20 years and was twice listed in Science as one of the top receivers of federal grants in the U.S., the only woman or behavioral scientist listed.

She has conducted 22 federally-funded randomized controlled trials for persons at risk or affected by suicide, depression, HIV, and diabetes. The American Psychological Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have selected 18 of the evidence-based interventions from her research group as models to be diffused nationally. She has sat on the National Scientific Advisory Councils for the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Research.

She founded the UCLA Family Commons, wellness centers in local shopping malls and at low income schools in Los Angeles, CA to saturate families’ communities with evidence-based prevention practices. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and Unihealth Foundation, she is aiming to take the model for selecting, training, and monitoring paraprofessional intervention staff national, so that there is a viable strategy for replicating the robust components of evidence-based practices, while allowing local adaptation for cultural tailoring and responsiveness. She has worked for the last 20 years in multiple Asian countries (India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar), as well as in South Africa and Uganda.

Currently, she is recognized for her work on disruptive innovations in behavioral science and mental health. She aims to show that there are alternative scientific norms to the current practice of replicating manualized interventions with fidelity.

In South Africa, she has worked for the last 8 years with faculty and staff at Stellenbosch University, the Philani Nutrition, Maternal and Child Health Programme, Grassroot Soccer, Zithulele Hospital, Human Services Research Network, conducting HIV-related randomized controlled trials, training programmes, and building research infrastructure.


Rotheram-Borus, MJ, M Tomlinson, et al. (Under review). Gender-specific HIV and substance abuse prevention strategies for South African men: Study protocol for a randomized clinical trial.

Rotheram-Borus, MJ, D Swendeman, & BF Chorpita. (2012). Disruptive innovations for designing and diffusing evidence-based interventions. American Psychologist, 67(6): 463-476.

Tomlinson, M, MJ Rotheram-Borus, et al. (2016). Thirty-six-month outcomes of a generalist paraprofessional perinatal home visiting intervention in South Africa on maternal health and child development. Prev Sci, 17(8): 937-938.


  • Projects in the following countries in addition to those in the US:
    • South Africa
    • Uganda
    • Thailand
    • China
    • Vietnam
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