Wednesday, August 3, 2022

By Amanda Alaniz

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Tamara Al Rawwad, an assistant professor in the UTRGV School of Social Work, recently earned the Abstract of Distinction Award for a collaborative research paper that investigated how community-clinic networks may help increase the preventive use of prophylaxis among men of color to help stem the spread HIV.  

The 2022 Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research – themed “Realizing the Power of Prevention Through Equitable Dissemination and Implementation Science” – was held May 31 – June 3 in Seattle, Washington.  

The collaborative research paper abstract, titled “Community-Clinic Linkages for Promoting HIV Prevention: Organizational Networks for PrEP Client Referrals and Collaborations,” investigated pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) referrals and HIV/STI prevention networks among organizations in Houston, Texas, and Chicago, Illinois, and compared the network positions of organizations based on the percentage of Black/African American clients.   

The paper was co-authored by several colleagues from a variety of universities, including: 

  • Tamara Al Rawwad, PhD, MPH, assistant professor, UTRGV. 
  • Rebecca L. Mauldin, PhD, MSW, assistant professor, UT Arlington.  
  • Muhammad Amith, PhD, assistant professor, UT Health Science Center at Houston. 
  • Lisa Kuhns, PhD, MPH, research associate professor, Northwestern University, Chicago. 
  • John Schneider, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago.  
  • Kayo Fujimoto, PhD, associate professor, UT Health Science Center at Houston.  


This is the sixth year the SPR has presented the honor, which highlights abstracts and topics that are particularly noteworthy.  

Al Rawwad said she is happy to have received the award, which offers the opportunity to bring more notice and attention to UTRGV, as well as the university’s School of Social Work. 

“The award pushes me to continue doing the same thing – submit abstracts and get my research out there,” she said. “At the end of the day, I represent UTRGV at these major conferences and I get to talk about the school and what we offer.” 

Earning recognitions also helps her continue associations with other universities and colleagues for potential research, she said.  

“I did propose submitting this abstract to this conference to my co-authors. They were very happy with the idea. They hadn’t presented about it before,” she said.  

“This is a step to continue the collaboration with these schools in Chicago, Houston and Arlington. Overall, I was happy because it’s hard to get accepted into this conference, and then to win an award – it’s a good feeling.”  

As a professor and researcher, Al Rawwad said she already has started to consider future research into mental health and substance use.  

To learn more about UTRGV School of Social Work, visit  


Founded in 1991, the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) is dedicated to advancing scientific investigation on the etiology and prevention of social, physical and mental health, and academic problems and on the translation of that information to promote health and well-being. The multi-disciplinary membership of SPR is international and includes scientists, practitioners, advocates, administrators, and policy makers who value the conduct and dissemination of prevention science worldwide.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.