Nabila El-Bassel Named University Professor

April 08, 2019

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am very pleased to announce my appointment of Nabila El-Bassel, the Willma and Albert Musher Professor of Social Work, to the rank of University Professor, our highest academic honor. 

A tireless leader in the fields of global public health and social work, Professor El-Bassel has dedicated her career to improving the lives of people who have too often been overlooked or neglected. Her landmark scholarship focuses on behavioral and social sciences approaches to addressing substance use, HIV/AIDS, and interpersonal violence within marginalized communities. She is one of the nation’s foremost experts in these areas and a pioneer in designing sophisticated and innovative gender-based interventions, many of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified as models and best practices, and which have revolutionized prevention and treatment of stigmatized conditions across the United States and the world. Currently, she is leading community and system-based research to address the opioid epidemic in New York State.

Professor El-Bassel is the recipient of extensive funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). She is a Principal Investigator on the NIMH HIV Intervention Science Training Program for Racial Ethnic Minority HIV Investigators and a Principal Investigator on the T32 NIH Training Program on HIV and Criminal Justice. And, she has served as a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.

We are proud that Professor El-Bassel calls Columbia her intellectual home. After completing a BSW at Tel Aviv University and an MSW at the School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she earned her PhD at the Columbia School of Social Work and continued her training here as a Research Associate in the Center for Social Policy and Practice in the Workplace and as a Research Associate and Research Scholar in the Social Intervention Group, before becoming its Director. She is also Director of Columbia’s Global Health Research Center of Central Asia, the core activities of which are outcome-driven and designed to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in the region. 

A University Professor appointment is a rare and distinguished honor among our faculty. Not only does it signify scholarly merit of the highest caliber, it also designates the recipient as a professor of the entire University who can teach across schools and departments. Professor El-Bassel has devoted her career to the pursuit of knowledge and innovation that can strengthen communities and improve the human condition. She has established social work as a recognized profession in countries where it previously did not exist and has mentored generations of new researchers in a field that has had a transformative effect on the lives of at-risk populations. She richly deserves this honor—please join me in congratulating her.


Lee C. Bollinger