New to CPRC - Pia M. Mauro

This is a series to introduce CPRC members to a broader community.

January 23, 2020
Portrait of Pia M. Mauro

Discipline/Training Background: Substance use epidemiology and public mental health

Department: Epidemiology

Started at Columbia: Postdoc in 2015, Assistant Professor in 2017

What research are you working on currently? 

My current work focuses on how policies affect substance use treatment uptake in the United States. I am particularly interested in understanding the effects of marijuana laws, because states are actively considering whether and how to implement these policies. An important part of the work is how these changing marijuana laws affect criminal justice interactions, which we know disproportionately affect younger age groups and people of color. This project allows me to work on my broader goal of health equity, so that we can understand how to increase access to substance use services to people who may want them and need them, and reduce negative substance use-related outcomes, such as criminal justice involvement and overdose risk.

Main collaborators at Columbia? Elsewhere?

I am so fortunate to have an amazing network of collaborators at Columbia, many of whom are CPRC affiliates. These include Dr. Silvia Martins in Epidemiology, my mentor with whom I’ve been working since 2012, as well as Dr. Deborah Hasin in Epi, Dr. Morgan Philbin in SMS, and Dr. Christine Mauro in Biostats (no relation!).  Elsewhere, I have collaborated with incredible researchers while at Johns Hopkins, including Dr. Ramin Mojtabai and Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, as well as Dr. Sarah Canham, who is now at the University of Utah. I am currently building other local collaborations in New York, like Dr. Magdalena Cerdá at NYU. I am very interested in growing internal and external collaborations, because having a strong research community is crucial to conducting rigorous research.

What are the policies or areas of policies to which your work is relevant?

As a substance use epidemiologist, my main focus is population-level effects of drug policy, including medical and recreational marijuana laws, as well as other drug-related policies, like state Medicaid coverage of medications for opioid use disorder.  Because I study substance use treatment, my work also includes behavioral and general health policy that influence treatment availability and access more broadly, such as Medicaid expansion and care integration efforts.

Don't be shy; what accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of my K01 Career Development Award funded through the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2018. It is first grant where I am the PI – I am on my second year and am already learning so much! The 5-year project is entitled, “Multi-level associations between medical marijuana laws and substance use disorder treatment,” and supports my research and training to integrate health services, policy, health economics, and epidemiology. It is such a privilege to get to research what I’m passionate about at this level.

If people want to learn more about your research, where should they start? 

To learn more about marijuana use over the life course, people could read about age differences in daily and non-daily marijuana use in the US (PMID: 29885150). This manuscript was recently named one of the Journal on Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 2018 top cited articles. In a paper that focused on medical marijuana laws, we assessed whether people knew if their state allowed marijuana use for medical purposes (PMID: 30103098). This work challenges assumptions about whether people know about policies, and therefore can inform mechanisms through which policies can affect behaviors.

Mauro, P.M., Carliner, H., Brown, Q.L., Hasin, D.S., Shmulewitz, D., Rahim, R., Sarvet, A.L., Wall, M.M., Martins, S.S. (2018). Age differences in daily and non-daily cannabis use in the United States, 2002-2014. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 79(3), 423-431. PMID: 29885150.

Mauro, P.M., Santaella-Tenorio, J., Perlmutter, A.S., Hasin, D.S., Mauro, C.M., Martins, S.S. (2019). Correct knowledge of medical cannabis legal status in one’s own state: Differences between adolescents and adults in the United States, 2004-2013. Addictive Behaviors, 88, 23-28. PMID: 30103098.

Fun fact about you - 

I just finished listening to my first audiobook: Becoming, by Michelle Obama. It was beautifully narrated by the author herself, and set a very high bar for the next audiobook on my list!