Linda Cottler, Dean’s Professor and associate dean for research at the University of Florida, has led numerous programs and research in mental health, substance use disorders, and community engagement science.
School of Public Health alum Linda Cottler (SPH’80) has received the 2021 Rema Lapouse Award for Achievement in Epidemiology, Mental Health and Applied Public Health Statistics from the American Public Health Association (APHA). Cottler, who received her Master of Public Health from SPH in 1980, is a Dean’s Professor and associate dean for research at the University of Florida’s (UF) College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine.
Sponsored by APHA’s the Mental Health, Epidemiology, and Statistics Sections, the annual award is granted to an outstanding scientist in the area of psychiatric epidemiology in recognition of “significant contributions to the scientific understanding of the epidemiology and control of mental health disorders. It was established in 1972 by renowned public health expert and doctor Milton Terris in honor of his wife, Rema Lapouse. A founding member of the Mental Health section, Lapouse studied pediatric psychiatric epidemiology of mental health and was a pioneer in impacting public policy and the quality of care to promote public health and social justice.
“I am so honored to receive this award that so many of my role models have received, including my own mentor, Lee Robins, and of course Sandro Galea, too,” says Cottler. “Developing diagnostic assessments and facilitating interventions with, and for, people from all over the world with lived experience in substance use and mental health challenges has been a highlight of my life.”
Cottler’s research has largely focused on the consequences of addiction, its comorbidity with other disorders, and community-based efforts. She has developed of widely used interviews for substance use and other psychiatric disorders, and interventions to reduce high-risk behaviors.
Cottler worked at Washington University in multiple capacities for 30 years, beginning as a project coordinator for Robins, professor emeritus of sociology in psychiatry, on the landmark Epidemiological Catchment Area study, which was the first North American study of the prevalence of mental illness in the general population. After earning her doctorate in sociology from the university in 1987, she joined the psychiatry faculty in 1988 and developed a research program in addiction and community engagement science. She served as director of the Master Psychiatric Epidemiology program, director of a 28-year NIMH Post-Doctoral Training Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and director of a NIDA T32 Training Program in comorbidity and Biostatistics.
In 2011, Cottler moved to the University of Florida to become founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology. She is also founding director of HealthStreet, a community engagement program of the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute in which community health workers assess health concerns and needs of community members and provide referrals to medical and social services and opportunities to participate in research. She has published more than 320 manuscripts and chapters and received numerous awards for her mentoring and research achievements.
Cottler joins 50 other recipients of the Rema Lapouse Award, including SPH Dean Sandro Galea, who received the award in 2015.