Diana H. Fishbein named director of Prevention Research Center

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Diana H. Fishbein has been named director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. She will hold the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Prevention Research. Her appointment will become effective July 1.

An expert in behavioral neuroscience, Fishbein was most recently professor and director of the Center for Translational Research on Adversity, Neurodevelopment and Substance abuse in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. As director of the center, Fishbein led a group of clinician and basic scientists who share a common interest in translational neuroscience research to improve the lives of those who suffer from mental, emotional and behavioral problems.

“Diana Fishbein is a distinguished scholar who brings a wealth of experience to the position,” said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Shultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. “She brings an emphasis on integrating prevention science and neuroscience.”

Crouter said Fishbein is a highly connected community member, and interacts frequently with funding agencies, which could allow for new opportunities and collaborations.

“This hire is exciting and innovative,” she said. “It will bring a different dimension to the Center.”

Fishbein will succeed Ed Smith, who has held the position of director of the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center throughout the search period.

“After a diligent international search, we have been very successful in attracting a dynamic leader to this important position,” Smith said. “Fishbein is a well-recognized and respected scholar who can step into this role without missing a beat. Her national leadership in promoting the adoption of evidence-based practices will further reinforce the prominent role played by the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center in this field.”

Fishbein is also an adjunct associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, a faculty subcontractor at Georgetown University, and a guest researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program.

As she enters this new role, Fishbein said she is looking forward to the potential for growth in the field of prevention science.

“Prevention science covers a wide range of social and health issues, and the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center is equipped to address the entire spectrum,” Fishbein said.

The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, she said, is one of the most renowned prevention centers in the world. Its uniqueness stems from its founder’s leadership and the support it has received, enabling the Center to exert a significant impact on the field and on prevention practices.

“We are really excited to have Dr. Fishbein's leadership at the prevention research center,” said Mark T. Greenberg, founding director of the Prevention Research Center, Edna Peterson Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research, and professor of human development and psychology. “She brings a broad scope of experience from basic neuroscience to helping bring scientific findings to policy-makers. Her passion for translational science that can bridge the gap between our current knowledge and the needs of children, families and communities will bring a new dimension to the work of the center.”

Fishbein conducted studies utilizing transdisciplinary methods and a developmental approach to understanding interactions between neurobiological processes and environmental factors. Additionally, she led studies that found deficits in certain neurobiological functions compromise responses to both preventive and treatment interventions. Fishbein’s ultimate research goal is to translate scientific findings to practice and policies designed to prevent mental health, emotional and behavioral problems. 

Fishbein said her goals for the center are to reinforce the outstanding work of faculty and staff already ongoing, connect the center with policy makers and policy researchers to support the transfer of information, help construct policies needed for children’s development and family functions and to help build the translational neuroscience aspect of the center.

“What is in existence at the center is already very remarkable,” Fishbein said. “I want to support and build on what’s already in place and incorporate other relevant disciplines.”

“My goal in life is to have an impact on the phenomena we study,” Fishbein said. “If you are in the field of prevention science, there is no stronger drive.”

Fishbein has written and edited several books and about 100 journal articles, including two special journal issues. She is the creator of 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. She also wrote the etiology section of the International Standards for Drug Abuse Prevention for the United Nations, and developed a training curriculum for policy-makers worldwide.

“Penn State has a tremendous reputation of being a nurturing environment,” Fishbein said. “I am so honored to be a part of the family.”

Fishbein earned a doctorate in criminology and psychobiology from Florida State University in 1981, with a minor in statistics. She earned a master of science degree  in criminology from Florida State University in 1977, with a specialization in psychobiology, and a bachelor of science degree in criminology and psychobiology from both Florida State and the University of Maryland.

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Last Updated May 21, 2015