Drexel University School of Public Health doctoral student Aleksandar Kecojevic was recently awarded a two-year, $90,848 Health Services Research Dissertation (R36) grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The R36 awards are meant to support the dissertation research costs of students. Kecojevic will use the grant to study the relationship between non-medical prescription drug use (NMUPD) and risky sexual behaviors among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in Philadelphia. The aim of the study is to contribute a better understanding of the role of social determinants—such as depression, bullying, victimization, homelessness, and homophobia, and normative pressures—that encourage risky behaviors.
Kecojevic’s mentor at Drexel University is Dr. Stephen Lankenau, an associate professor at the School of Public Health whose research focuses on drug addiction and abuse, overdose prevention, HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, and qualitative research.
"There is limited research on prescription drug misuse among YMSM, particularly in Philadelphia, so Alex has identified an important gap in the research literature with the R36. The two years of funding provided by the R36 is a great opportunity for Alex to launch his own career as an independent investigator," said Dr. Lankenau. "The R36 is also an important achievement for the School of Public Health since it reflects strong mentoring, teaching, and commitment by numerous faculty members."
Kecojevic was previously named the 2011 recipient of the Walter J. Lear Outstanding Student Research Award for his study of the non-medical use of prescription drugs among high-risk LGBT youth, which found that prescription drug misuse among high-risk LGBT youth was an underreported feature of the larger prescription drug epidemic in the U.S.