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Scott Novak

Senior Developmental Epidemiologist

Scott Novak, PhD, holds research interests in the causes, correlates, and consequences of substance use, including the behavioral and psychiatric sequelae. He currently directs the program of research on prescription drug abuse within RTI's behavioral health epidemiology program. He is also active in studies investigating the epidemiology of new synthetic/designer drugs of abuse in the United States and internationally as well as the use and abuse of marijuana.

Dr. Novak leads a large data coordinating center from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to track performance measures for clients in 600 substance abuse treatment facilities across the United States. He also works on a federal initiative to create community-level estimates for illicit drug abuse from 22 local antidrug coalitions. In addition, he is the principal investigator for a surveillance system in eight European Union countries to monitor prescription drug abuse. 

Dr. Novak's expertise is in novel statistical and methodological approaches to the analysis of epidemiological and clinical data, including extensions of the generalized linear mixed model (e.g., HLM) to classification, measurement, and diagnosis of disease. His methodological interests also involve the application of new social media technologies for data collection and analysis. He is the principal investigator on several NIH grants and commercial projects, and has authored more than 100 papers and presentations.He has several funded projects investigating the social magnitude and impact of medical and retail cannabis legalization.  

Before coming to RTI in 2004, he was on the faculty of Brown University in the Department of Community Health, and was a Robert Wood Johnson Faculty Fellow in the Department of Health Care Policy/Maternal and Child Health at Harvard University.


  • PhD, Quantitative Sociology, University of Kentucky at Lexington
  • MA, Medical Sociology, University of Kentucky at Lexington
  • MS, Statistics (Honors), Harvard University
  • BS, Statistics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • BA, Sociology, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Latest Publications

Novak, S.P., Bluthenthal, R., Wenger, L., Chu, D., & Kral, A.H. (2015). Initiation of Heroin and Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers by Birth Cohort. American Journal of Public Health, :e1-e3.
Kral, A.H., Wenger, L., Novak, S.P., Chu, D., Corsi, K.F., Coffa, D., et al. (2015). Is cannabis use associated with less opioid use among people who inject drugs?. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 153 :236-241.
Ridenour, T.A., Willis, D., Bogen, D.L., Novak, S., Scherer, J., Reynolds, M.D., et al. (2015). Detecting initiation or risk for initiation of substance use before high school during pediatric well-child check-ups. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 150 :54-62.
Lynch, K.L., Shapiro, B.J., Coffa, D., Novak, S.P., & Kral, A.H. (2015). Promethazine use among chronic pain patients. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 150 :92-97.
Johnson, E.O., Hancock, D.B., Gaddis, N.C., Levy, J.L., Page, G., Novak, S.P., Glasheen, C., Saccone, N.L., Rice, J.P., Moreau, M.P., Doheny, K.F., Romm, J.M., Brooks, A.I., Aouizerat, B.E., Bierut, L.J., & Kral, A.H. (2015). Novel genetic locus implicated for HIV-1 acquisition with putative regulatory links to HIV replication and infectivity: A genome-wide association study. PLoS one, 10 (3):e0118149.
View all publications by Scott Novak (47)


  • Statistical Methodology
  • Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorder Research
  • Epidemiological Study Design
  • Medical and Retail Cannabis Legalization