Jennifer Unger

Expert in smoking and public health, especially prevention among teenagers, and other psychosocial aspects of risky behavior

Professor of Preventive Medicine

Keck School of Medicine of USC


  • Adolescent substance use
  • Tobacco / smoking / cigarettes / e-cigarettes
  • Marijuana / cannabis
  • E-cigarettes and other tobacco products
  • Acculturation / cultural values / cultural stress / discrimination
  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Social media
  • Health education

Additional Information

Jennifer B. Unger, Ph.D. is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the psychological, social, and cultural influences on health-risk and health-protective behaviors including tobacco and cannabis use. She and her colleagues have conducted several longitudinal studies of acculturation and substance use among Hispanic adolescents, highlighting the role of discrimination in health-risk behaviors. Her research also has examined cultural influences on tobacco use among American Indian adolescents, Chinese adolescents, and African American adults. She is currently conducting a study of the association between proximity to cannabis retailers and cannabis use among adolescents. She is interested in entertainment-education strategies for health education among low-literacy minority populations and has collaborated on the design and evaluation of fotonovelas and telenovelas about secondhand smoke exposure in multiunit housing; diabetes; asthma; immunization; and kidney transplantation. She is a co-investigator in the USC Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS), where she studies diffusion of messages about emerging tobacco products to vulnerable populations through social media and leads the Population Core, which conducts annual surveys of three longitudinal cohorts of adolescents and young adults. Dr. Unger directs the Ph.D. program in Preventive Medicine / Health Behavior Research. She is co-director of the Cancer Control program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is an Associate Editor for Substance Use and Misuse and Tobacco Regulatory Science.


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