Headshot of white female professional with rose-colored blazer.

Lisa Berger, PhD

  • Associate Dean, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare
  • Professor, Social Work

Dr. Lisa Berger is associate dean of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. She is the former director of the Center for Urban Population Health, a partnership of Aurora Health Care/Aurora Research Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In 1998, Dr. Berger joined the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare as a researcher with the Center for Addiction and Behavioral Health Research (later named the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Research) and became a faculty member in 2005. Prior to 1998, Dr. Berger spent several years in the human services field providing direct services.

Dr. Berger’s research and teaching expertise is in the area of substance use, focusing predominantly on alcohol misuse and expanding the base of alcohol and other drug use intervention into health care settings. Dr. Berger has been involved in numerous substance use research, evaluation, and training projects. These projects have included the effectiveness of alcohol behavioral treatments in combination with medications, studies on alcohol screening and brief intervention for hazardous and harmful drinkers, and alcohol biomarker research. More recent projects include the evaluation of an integrated substance use disorder and psychological trauma intensive outpatient program for women and a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for substance misuse training project. Dr. Berger also has been involved in studies on alcohol mixed with energy drinks or AmED use and its associated negative consequences.

Dr. Berger values community-engaged research. Over the years, she has maintained several close partnerships with local community-based organizations. Dr. Berger also enjoys teaching and has received several teaching recognitions and awards. She teaches mainly in the Master of Social Work program.


  • Ph.D., Urban Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • MSW, Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • B.A., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Professional Interests:

  • Alcohol use disorder treatment in medical settings
  • Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment
  • Alcohol mixed with energy drink use
  • Integrated substance use disorder and psychological trauma treatment
  • Training students and professionals in substance misuse interventions

Professional Affiliations:

  • Council on Social Work Education
  • Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers
  • Research Society on Alcoholism

Recent Funded Research:

  • Promoting Best Practices in Substance Use Disorders. Division of Care and Treatment Services/Department of Health Services/State of Wisconsin (September 2019 - August 2020). $328,700. Principal Investigator: L. Berger
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Division of Care and Treatment Services/Department of Health Services/State of Wisconsin (January 2017 - December 2021) $850,000. Lead Evaluator: L. Berger
  • Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals and Paraprofessionals: The Youth-Oriented Substance Abuse and Trauma (YOSAT) Counseling Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Health Resources and Services Administration (September 2014 - August 2017). $1,253,405. Principal Investigators: D. Padgett & L. Otto-Salaj; Co-Investigator: L. Berger
  • Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Training for Substance Misuse Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (September 2013 - August 2017) $777,412. Principal Investigator: L. Berger
  • Hair Ethyl Glucuronide as a Long Term Alcohol Biomarker. NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (September 2009 - August 2012). $574,717. Principal Investigator: M. Fendrich; Co-Investigator: L. Berger

Recent Publications:

  • Berger, L., Lemke, M., Van Koningsveld, C., Yonkoski, S., Feinberg, F., Brondino, M., & Galbis-Reig, D. (in press). Treatment of substance use disorder and psychological trauma: Outcomes of the Women of Worth program. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions.
  • Powers, G., & Berger, L. (2020). Alcohol mixed with energy drinks: Expectancies of use and alcohol-related negative consequences among a young adult sample. Addictive Behaviors Reports, 12. doi: doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2020.100292 
  • Zhang, L., & Berger, L. (2020). Substance-abusing parents and their children: An interview with Christine Fewell, PhD, LCSW, CASAC and Joan Blakey, PhD, MSW. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 20, 75-81.
  • Lemieux, C. M., Carlson, J. M., Berger, L., & Sacco, P. (2019). Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment Mapping: Introduction and competencies. Council on Social Work Education. https://www.cswe.org/CSWE/media/SBIRT-Curricular-Resource/SBIRT-Curricular-Resource.pdf
  • McMurtry, S. L., Rose, S. J., & Berger, L. K. (2019). Rapid assessment instruments. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Social Work. Oxford University Press. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.1011
  • Begun, A. L., Berger, L. K., & Otto-Salaj, L. L. (2018). Participant recruitment and retention in intervention and evaluation research. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Berger, L. K., Blair, K., & Hein, C. (2019). Basic computer skills and computer preferences of inner-city hospitalized medical patients: Implications for web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention. Social Work in Health Care, 58, 382-391. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2019.1575942
  • Topitzes, J., Berger, L., Otto-Salaj, L., Mersky, J. P., Weeks, F., & Ford, J. D. (2017). Complementing SBIRT for alcohol misuse with SBIRT for trauma: A feasibility study. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 17, 188-215. doi: 10.1080/1533256X.2017.1305392
  • Powers, G., Berger, L., Fuhrmann, D., & Fendrich, M. (2017). Family history density of substance use problems among undergraduate college students: Associations with heavy alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. Addictive Behaviors, 71, 1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.02.015
  • Berger, L., Hernandez-Meier, J., Hyatt, J., & Brondino, M. (2017). Referral to treatment for hospitalized medical patients with an alcohol use disorder: A proof-of-concept brief intervention study. Social Work in Health Care, 56, 321-334. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2017.1299073
  • Fendrich, M., Berger, L., & Fuhrmann, D. (2017). The association of long-term alcohol biomarkers with risk for alcohol-related injury: Implications for screening. Journal of Substance Use, 22, 232-235. doi: 10.1080/14659891.2016.1217090
  • Berger, L., Brondino, M., Fisher, M., Gwyther, R., & Garbutt, J. C. (2016). Alcohol use disorder treatment: The association of pretreatment use and the role of drinking goal. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 29, 37-49. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2016.01.150143
  • See My Bibliography: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Curriculum Vitae