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Mary McKernan McKay
McSilver Professor of Poverty Studies; Director, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research
(212) 998-5978

Areas of Expertise

Child mental health services research, child and family-focused HIV prevention and care, service delivery and system research to poverty-impacted youth and families


Dr. Mary McKay joined the New York University Silver School of Social Work in September 2011 as the McSilver Professor of Poverty Studies and director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. Prior to joining Silver, she served as the head of the Division of Mental Health Services Research at Mount Sinai. She has received substantial federal funding for research focused on meeting the mental health and health prevention needs of inner-city youth and families. Working with colleagues in the field, she developed a substantial body of research findings around engagement practices to improve involvement in family-based HIV prevention programs and mental health services by children, youth, and families in poverty-impacted urban areas. She has significant expertise in services and implementation research methods, as well as 15 years of experience conducting HIV prevention and care-oriented studies, all of which has been supported by continuous NIH funding. In addition, she has collaborated with the National Institute of Mental Health, the New York State Office of Mental Health, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to create evidence-based engagement interventions and to test models of dissemination and training for mental health professionals in engagement best practices.

The study that began her career in HIV science is CHAMP (Collaborative HIV Prevention and Adolescent Mental Health Project), a collaborative effort between university and community members to provide HIV prevention and mental health promotion services in urban, low-income communities. This project began in Chicago and has been replicated in New York City, South Africa, and Trinidad and expanded to new populations, homeless families, and perinataly infected youth and their adult caregivers. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications on the topics of mental and behavioral health, HIV/AIDS prevention and behavior modification, and other urban health issues.