1603 W. Taylor St.
MC 747
Chicago, IL 60608


Geri Donenberg, PhD

Professor, Infectious Diseases
Associate Dean of Research, School of Public Health


Geri Donenberg, PhD, is a professor in the Division of Infectious Disease and the Associate Dean of Research in the School of Public Health. She directs the Community Outreach Intervention Projects and the Healthy Youths Program. Dr. Donenberg has been involved in national and international adolescent HIV-related research for 15 years, with continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1999.

With over 80 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Donenberg’s research focuses on the individual, peer, partner, and family mechanisms associated with risky sexual behavior and substance use among high-risk youth, and adapting, designing, and testing specially targeted interventions to reduce health disparities among juvenile offenders, young men who have sex with men, African American women and daughters, and youth with mental health problems. A former Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Donenberg also works internationally in South Africa, Rwanda, and Indonesia.

Current studies include (1) a family-based HIV prevention intervention for African American women and their daughters (R01MD006198, G. Donenberg, PI), (2) understanding the impact of early violence exposure on later dating violence among African American young women (R01HD067511, H. Wilson, PI), (3) an trauma-focused cognitive behavioral intervention to increase medication adherence and decrease depression among HIV+ Rwandan youth (R01HD074977, M. Cohen, G. Donenberg, N. Sabin, PIs), (4) a family-based HIV prevention intervention to reduce risky sexual behavior and alcohol/drug use among South African teens in mental health care (R34MH092251, G. Donenberg and P. Naidoo, PIs), and (5) an HIV, substance use, and mental health program for juvenile offenders (R01MD005861, G. Donenberg, PI).

Dr. Donenberg has trained more than 65 Doctorate, Masters and Bachelor-level students throughout the United States and South Africa in HIV-related research, and she actively mentors junior faculty through several national initiatives for traditionally underrepresented minority scholars. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Illinois. 


University of California at Los Angeles, M.A., Psychology
University of California at Los Angeles, Ph.D., Psychology

Research Interests:  national and international adolescent HIV-related research 


Selected Publications:

Swenson, R., Houck, C., Sarfati, D., Emerson, E., Donenberg, G., & Brown, L. K. (in press).  HIV testing among teens attending therapeutic schools: Having a personal source of information about HIV/AIDS matters! Journal of Primary Prevention.

Rodriguez, E., Donenberg, G., Emerson, E., Wilson, H., Brown, L., & Houck, C. (in press). Family Environment, Coping, and Mental Health in Adolescents Attending Therapeutic Day Schools. Journal of Adolescence.

Mackesy-Amiti ME, Donenberg GR, Ouellet LJ. Prescription opioid misuse and mental health among young injection drug users. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 2015;41(1):100-6. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2014.940424

Donenberg, G., Emerson, E., Mackesy-Amiti, M., & Udell, W. (in press). HIV-Risk Reduction with Juvenile Offenders on Probation.  Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Mackesy-Amiti ME, Donenberg GR, Ouellet LJ (2014). Psychiatric correlates of injection risk behavior among young people who inject drugs. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 28(4):1089-95. doi: 10.1037/a0036390.

Udell, W., & Donenberg, G. (in press). Parental Discussions about Sexual Risk with African American Sons: The Role of Religiosity. Journal of Health Disparities and Research.

Houck, C., Swenson, R., Donenberg, G., Papino, A., Emerson, E., Brown, L. (in press). Adolescents’ emotions prior to sexual activity and associations with sexual risk factors. AIDS and Behavior.

Wilson, H.W., Emerson, E., Donenberg, G.R., & Pettineo, L. (in press). History of Sexual Abuse and Development of Sexual Risk Behavior from Early to Late Adolescence in Low-Income, Urban African American Girls. Women & Health.

Hadley, W., Barker, D., Lescano, C.M., Brown, L.K., Stewart, A., Affleck, K., Donenberg, G., DiClemente, R., & Project STYLE Study Group (in press). Prevalence of sexual risk behavior among teens in mental health treatment and the influence of psychiatric impairment. Journal of HIV/AIDS & Social Services.

Javdani, S., Rodriguez, E., Nichols, S., Emerson, E., & Donenberg, G. (2014). Risking it for Love: Romantic Relationships and Early Pubertal Development Confer Risk for Later Disruptive Behavior Disorders in African-American Girls Receiving Psychiatric Care. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Naidoo, P., Donenberg, G., Davids, A., Jonas, K., Vermaak, R., Simbayi, L., Kagee, A., Ward, C., & Emerson, E. (2014). Exploring risk and protective mechanisms associated with HIV infection among adolescents in South Africa. Journal of Psychology in Africa.

Wilson, H., Donenberg, G., & Emerson, E., (2014). Childhood Violence Exposure and the Development of Sexual Risk in Low-Income African American Girls. Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Brown, L.K., Hadley, W., Donenberg, G., DiClemente, R., Lescano, C.M., Lang, D., Crosby, R., Barker, D.H., Oster, D., and Project STYLE Study Group (2014). Project STYLE: A multisite HIV prevention trial for youth in mental health treatment. Psychiatric Services. 665,338-344.

Brown, L. K., Houck, C., Donenberg, G., Emerson, E., Donahue, K., & Misbin, J. (2013). Affect Management for HIV Prevention for Adolescents in Therapeutic Schools: The immediate impact of Project Balance. AIDS and Behavior. 17, 2773-2780.

Donenberg, G., Emerson, E., Brown, L., Houck, C., & Mackesy-Amiti, M.E. (2012). Sexual Experience Among Emotionally and Behaviorally Disordered Students in Therapeutic Day Schools: An Ecological Examination of Adolescent Risk. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/JSS056

Donenberg, G., Emerson, E., & Mackesy-Amiti, M. (2011). Sexual Risk Among African American Girls: Psychopathology and Mother-Daughter Relationships. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 153-158.