Velma McBride Murry

University Professor, Departments of Health Policy and Human & Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University

Professor McBride Murry has conducted research on African-American parents and youth for over a decade and identified proximal, malleable protective factors that deter emotional problems and risk engagement in youth. Using this information, she designed and implemented two randomized control trial, family-based preventive interventions programs, the Strong African American Families (SAAF) Program and the Pathways for African American Success (PAAS), and both have demonstrated efficacy in the enhancement of parenting and family processes as well as youths’ intrapersonal protective processes that, in turn, dissuaded youth from engaging in health compromising behaviors. A unique aspect of the PAAS program was the testing of technology as an alternative delivery modality for disseminating evidence-based programs in rural communities. Similar to SAAF, PAAS intervention effects were effective in delaying/deterring substance use and other risky behaviors by influencing parenting practices and youth protective factors (i.e. cognitive and emotional self-regulation), with greater programmatic effects demonstrated among families receiving the program via technology delivery format. Her most research work focuses on merging neuroscience and prevention science to examine effects of PAAS on risk-taking/cognitive-control neural circuits and assess whether changes in these circuits correlate with changes in youth protective factors (i.e. improving self-regulation). Professor McBride Murry’s overarching goal is to disseminate her evidence-based preventive intervention programs for uptake in community-based organizations, as well as schools and primary health care settings and in faith-based organizations, and examine their efficacy and effectiveness in real-world settings.


  • –present
    Professor of Psychology, Vanderbilt University