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Karen G. Chartier portrait

Karen G. Chartier, Ph.D.

Associate professor

Email: kgchartier@vcu.edu

Phone: (804) 828-2865

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Connecticut
Ph.D., University of Connecticut
M.S.W., University of Connecticut
B.A., Clark University

Karen Chartier, Ph.D., is focused on two primary lines of research. She, first, seeks to characterize racial/ethnic patterns and disparities for alcohol consumption and other substance use behaviors and the resulting social and health problems. Her second line of research seeks to detail the key factors associated with alcohol consumption related problems among racial/ethnic groups.

This work applies a multilevel conceptual framework that examines factors from genetic variants and a family history of alcoholism to socioeconomic and cultural influences. As an extension of this research, Chartier recognizes the importance of expanding genetic research of alcohol use disorder to include understudied racial/ethnic populations and is interested in developing culturally appropriate strategies for encouraging diverse racial/ethnic group participation in genetic research.

Chartier’s research agenda extends across disciplines. Since arriving at VCU in 2013, she has established strong collaborations with investigators in VCU’s Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (VIPBG) and College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute (COBE).

Chartier was trained as a macro social work practitioner. She previously worked as a community organizer, and then a project coordinator and evaluator on community studies that examined culturally relevant substance abuse treatment and prevention programs for African Americans and Latinos. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine’s Alcohol Research Center in the Department of Psychiatry.

Before VCU, Chartier worked at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus, where she was on the research faculty and conducted epidemiologic studies on alcohol consumption, alcohol-related problems, and treatment utilization in U.S. racial/ethnic groups. She was also affiliated with the Texas Node of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Clinical Trials Network at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Learn more about Dr. Chartiers's work on ResearchGate and Google Scholar.

Notable awards, honors and appointments

Teaching areas and interests

Recent courses taught

  • SWKD 702, Introduction to Quantitative Data Analysis, PhD program
  • SWKD 898, Dissertation Research, PhD program
  • SLWK 706 & 707, Research for Clinical Social Work Practice I & II, MSW program
  • SLWK 693 & 694, Foundation Field Instruction I & II, MSW program


Chartier is committed to student learning that extends beyond the classroom through mentorship and finding ways to integrate students and trainees into her research. She believes that students learn best when they have “hands-on” experiences to encourage their interest in research and to assist them in developing their own research focus. Chartier has co-authored publications and scholarly presentations with more than a dozen VCU students. In her training, she was supported by strong mentors and can speak first-hand about the importance of these relationships.

Research projects and funding

Faculty Champion, “Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic Learning Collaborative,” National Council for Behavioral Health

Principal Investigator: “Strengthening African American and Latino Engagement in DNA Research,” Presidential Research Quest Fund, Virginia Commonwealth University

Principal Investigator: “Ethnicity and Alcohol Dependence: Phenotypes, Genes, and the Social Environment,” K01 AA021145, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


Selected publications

*student/trainee author

Compton, K.*, Barr, P., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Bares, C., Aliev, F., Mustanski, B., Dick, D., & Chartier, K. (2019). Evaluating neighborhood, social, and genetic influences on precursors of alcohol use risk behavior in African American adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(17), 3078. 

Bares, C., Chartier, K. G., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Aliev, F., Mustanski, B., & Dick, D. (2019). Exploring how family and neighborhood stressors influence genetic risk for adolescent conduct problems and alcohol use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Chartier, K. G., Tiarsmith*, C., O'Shea*, T., Kendler, K. S., & Dick, D. M. (2019). College students’ use of strategies to hide facial flushing: A target for alcohol education. Journal of American College Health.

Chartier, K., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Cummings, C.*, & Kendler, K. (2017). Environmental influences on alcohol use: Informing research on the joint effect of genes and the environment research in diverse U.S. populations. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5), 446-460. (Featured article at 2018 American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry meeting)

Martinez, P.*, Cummings, C.*, Karriker-Jaffe, K. J., & Chartier, K. G. (2017). Learning from Latino voices: Focus groups’ insights on participation in genetic research. The American Journal on Addictions, 26(5), 477-485.

Chartier, K. G., Thomas, N. S.*, & Kendler, K. S. (2017). Interrelationship between family history of alcoholism and generational status in the prediction of alcohol dependence in U.S. Hispanics. Psychological Medicine, 47(1), 137-147.

Chartier, K. G., Caetano, R., Miller, K., & Harris, T. R. (2016). A 10-year study of factors associated with alcohol treatment use and non-use in a U.S. population sample. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 160, 205-211.

Chartier, K. G., Carmody, T., Akhtar, M., Stebbins, M.*, Walters, S., & Warden, D. (2015). Hispanic subgroups, acculturation, and substance abuse treatment outcomes. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 59, 74-82.

Massey, Z., Chartier, K. G. (co-first authors), Stebbins, M. B.*, Canetti, D., Hobfoll, S. E., Hall, B. J., & Shuval, K. (2015). Explaining the frequency of alcohol consumption in a conflict zone: Jews and Palestinians in Israel. Addictive Behaviors, 46, 31-38.

Chartier, K. G., Scott, D. M., Wall, T. L., Covault, J., Karriker-Jaffe, K. J., Mills, B., Luczak, S. E., Caetano, R., and Arroyo, J. A. (2014). Framing ethnic variations in alcohol outcomes from biological pathways to neighborhood context. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38(3), 611-618.

Chartier, K. G., Vaeth, P. A. C., & Caetano, R. (2013). Focus on: Ethnicity and the social and health harms from drinking. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 35(2), 229-237.

Selected presentations

Chartier, K. & Corrin, K. (co-presenters). (2019, April). What’s the flow with Asian glow? Presentation about alcohol flushing, Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, VCU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Chartier, K. (2019, March). Intersections between alcohol use, genetic risk, and diverse populations. Health Disparities Research Seminar Series at the Research Center in Minority Institutions, Florida International University, Miami, FL.

Chartier, K. (2019, February). Family history: Discovering how this well-known tool can help clinicians understand problem drinking. Discovery Dialogues Seminar Series, VCU Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research. (Selected for mentorship in science communication with the public)

Chartier, K., Karriker-Jaffe, K., Martinez, P., & Cummings, C. (2018, June). Strengthening participation: Is the use of inclusive language enough? In Martinez, P. & Chartier, K. (Organizers) & Karriker-Jaffe, K. (Chair) How can we overcome history: Engaging racial/ethnic minorities in alcohol and biomedical research. Roundtable conducted at a meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, San Diego, CA.