Distinguished Implementation Scientist to Lead Medical Social Sciences

Rinad S. Beidas, PhD, professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, has been named chair and Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Professor of Medical Social Sciences, effective September 1, 2022. Photo: Eric Sugar

Rinad S. Beidas, PhD, professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and founding director of the Penn Implementation Science Center at the Leonard Davis Institute, has been named chair and Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Professor of Medical Social Sciences, effective September 1, 2022.

An internationally recognized leader in the field of implementation science, Beidas’ research broadly focuses on leveraging insights from implementation science and behavioral economics to make it easier for clinicians, leaders, and organizations to use best practices to improve the quality and equity of healthcare and enhance health outcomes. Her portfolio is expansive and includes work in mental health, cancer, HIV, and cardiovascular disease. She co-leads two NIH centers on behavioral economics and implementation science and has published over 200 peer-reviewed publications including those published in JAMA, JAMA Pediatrics, JAMA Psychiatry, JAMA Oncology, and Science Advances.

“I am so honored to be the next Chair of the Department of Medical and Social Sciences at Northwestern,” said Beidas, who is also the director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, the first behavioral design team embedded within a health system, which aims to design, implement, and evaluate strategies to improve healthcare delivery. “I was drawn to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because MSS is a world-class innovative department focused on the integration of social science approaches to transform health and healthcare delivery. I am incredibly excited to begin interdisciplinary collaborations with the exceptional faculty, trainees, and staff, both within MSS and across Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine.”

Upon completing her doctorate degree in Psychology from Temple University in 2011, Beidas joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where she rose to the rank of tenured professor and Director of the Penn Implementation Science Center and Penn Medicine Nudge Unit. She is associate editor of the journal Implementation Science. She serves or has served as PI or MPI of 11 NIH grants totaling approximately 31 million dollars and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies President’s New Researcher Award and the Research Pioneer award from the Acenda Institute of Health Innovation. Beidas said she is deeply committed to training the next generation and has mentored graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty.

“We are delighted to welcome Rinad to Northwestern,” said Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and the Lewis Landsberg Dean. “She is an exceptionally talented implementation scientist and scholar and is the perfect choice to take the Department of Medical Social Sciences through its next phase of growth and excellence.”

Beidas succeeds David Cella, PhD, the first Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Professor and founding chair of the department, who announced his intent to step down earlier this year, after more than 10 years in the position. Today, the department is ranked number one in the nation for public health science in medical schools and has been awarded more than $200 million in cumulative award dollars to study study health equity, lifespan health promotion, mechanisms of health and disease, and outcomes and measurement science.

“I look forward to building upon the legacy and strengths created by Dr. Cella and current faculty, trainees, and staff, and to collaboratively shape the vision of the next chapter of MSS,” Beidas said.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to David for the visionary leadership that helped establish and develop the Department of Medical Social Sciences, as well as to Bill Lowe and the entire search committee, for their outstanding work in identifying the next great leader for this department,” Neilson said.

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