Velma McBride Murry, PhD

Department of Human and Organizational Development
Department of Health Policy
Associate Director
Clinical Translational Science Award Community Engagement Core

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 the 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.  

Professor McBride Murry’s teaching has included Diverse Populations, a graduate course to promote awareness of ways which social injustice imposed on subpopulations of individuals, families, and communities perpetuates disadvantage and disparities, and Human Development and Prevention Science, designed to provide an interdisciplinary overview of prevention theories, research, and practice, as well as expand students’ understanding of the interconnectedness of context and human development to the design, development, and implementation of preventive intervention programs. 

Professor McBride Murry is co-chair of Vanderbilt University Chancellor’s Appointed Mental Health and Well-Being Strategic Planning Committee, Peabody Faculty Council, and serves on several advisory boards and governing councils, including National Academy of Science, Society for Research on Child Development.  She is also on numerous editorial boards, including Journal of Child Development, Journal of Developmental Psychology, Journal of Applied Developmental Science, Journal of Family Psychology, Journal of Prevention Science