Fellow in Focus is a series offering a quick look into the lives of our Injury and Violence Prevention Fellows. Tune in each month to meet a new fellow!

Name: Alex Gertner
Department: Health Policy and Management and the UNC School of Medicine
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

How’d you get into injury and violence prevention work? 

I worked on improving emergency housing facilities for people living with HIV/AIDS in New York City in 2007. I found that many of my clients had untreated substance use disorders that put them at risk of overdoses. The overdose crisis was not yet frontpage news, but it was clear this was an area that needed more attention.

Tell us what projects you’re working on currently. What about your work gets you excited?

I work on evaluating the effects of policies and programs on mental health and addiction outcomes. For example, an upcoming paper examines the effect of minimum wage increases on suicide rates. I’m motivated by using research to inform policies that promote wellbeing.

Where were you before you started your program at UNC?

I was the coordinator for the Health and Human Rights Division of Human Rights Watch in New York City. In this role, I supported research and advocacy on health-related human rights abuses around the world.

Favorite ‘90s jam?

“My Heart Will Go On” by Céline Dion

Who is someone you admire? Why?

I admire my adviser, Dr. Marisa Domino. She does research that is both empirically rigorous and highly relevant for policy.

Check out some of Alex’s recent publications:

1. “What Counts As Evidence In Making Policy? Controversy Around Opioid Policy Report Offers Lessons” on the Health Affairs Blog

2. “The effect of referral to expedited Medicaid on substance use treatment utilization among people with serious mental illness released from prison” in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment