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Family Medicine
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Heather Sophia Lee, PhD, LCSW
Assistant Professor
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Research Division
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
112 Paterson Street, Room 462
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Phone: 848-932-0216
Fax: 732-932-1451

Dr. Heather Sophia Lee is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Qualitative Researcher, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. At the core of her clinical and research interests is stigma as an access barrier to health and social services for vulnerable populations, most notably individuals experiencing homelessness, substance use issues, preceded by adverse childhood experiences. Dr. Lee obtained her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies and her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her master’s in social work from the University Chicago. Her postdoctoral work includes both a NIDA-funded fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and a CDC-funded fellowship in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her qualitative work has focused on the identification of outcomes of two harm reduction programs (i.e., non abstinence-based treatment) located in Chicago and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay area of California. She continued working with this population as a clinician, most recently helping to implement an HIV and hepatitis risk reduction program for drug-using, homeless, HIV-impacted individuals on Chicago’s southeast side. She has also worked in hospice care, child welfare, and arts education and is increasingly interested in the intersection of arts engagement and health. Dr. Lee's current research will examine the ways in which substance use issues are addressed in primary care settings in addition to collaborations on intervention research with colleagues in the research division. Dr. Lee is also the Student Assistance Facilitator for the Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers, Physician Assistant Program to provide early intervention assistance to students experiencing impairment due to substance use and mental health issues.

Undergraduate School and Area of Concentration:

  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, B.A. in Sociology

Graduate Schools and Fields of Study:

  • University of Chicago, A.M. (MSW Equivalent) in Social Work
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies

Postdoctoral Fellowships:

  • CDC-Funded Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • NIDA-Funded Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco

Predoctoral Fellowships:

  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, European Union Center, UIUC
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Center for Global Studies, UIUC
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UIUC
  • Putting Children First Fellowship at Teachers College, Columbia University


Licensed Clinical Social Worker


Lee, H.S., Engstrom, M., & Petersen, S. R. (2011). Harm reduction and twelve steps: Complementary, oppositional, or something in-between? Substance Use and Misuse. 46(9), 1151-1161.

Lee, H.S. & Zerai, A. (2010). “Everyone deserves services no matter what”: Defining success in harm reduction based substance abuse treatment. Substance Use and Misuse, 45(14), 2411-2427.

Lee, H. S. & Petersen, S. R. (2009). Demarginalizing the marginalized in substance abuse treatment: Stories of homeless, active substance users in an urban harm reduction based drop-in center. Addiction Research and Theory, 17(6), 622-636.

Lee, H. S., Mericle, A. A., Aaylon, L., & Areán, P. A. (2009). Harm reduction among at-risk elderly drinkers: A site-specific analysis from the multi-site Primary Care Research in Substance Abuse and Mental Health for Elderly (PRISM-E) study. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 24, 54-60.

Trent, W. T, Lee, H. S., & Owens-Nicholson, D. (2006). Perceptions of financial aid among students of color: Examining the role(s) of self-concept, locus of control, and expectations. American Behavioral Scientist, 49(12), 1739-1759.