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headshot of Faika Zanjani

Faika Zanjani, PhD

Associate Dean for Research


Email: fzanjani@vcu.edu


  • Substance Use and Aging
  • Medication Safety in Old Age
  • Health Behaviors and Health Promotion


  • PhD/MA in Human Development and Family Studies, from Pennsylvania State University
  • BA in Psychology, from Cedar Crest College

Research Interests

Health behavior change, health promotion, mental health, substance abuse/use, medication safety, and community health interventions, in both urban and rural communities.


Dr. Faika Zanjani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Gerontology at the VCU College of Health Professionals. She has a PhD in Human Development And Family Studies, with a concentration in Gerontology, from Pennsylvania State University, with postdoctoral training in Geriatric Psychiatry from the University of Pennsylvania. She also has had appointments as NIH/NIMH Predoctoral Fellow, APA Minority Health Fellow, NIH/NIMH Geriatric Postdoctoral Fellow, NIH BIRWCH Scholar, USDA Grant Awardee, and NIH/NIDA K Awardee.

Zanjani has worked in geriatric public health issues, particularly within the areas of health behavior change and health promotion; mental health and substance abuse/use; and community health interventions, in both urban and rural community applications. Her research covers the behavioral and public health spectrum, including examining process (change), predictors, outcomes, treatment, and community health promotion issues. She has been actively involved in promoting prescription drug safety, specifically alcohol-interactive medication safety and preventing mental health/substance misuse, among older community-dwelling adults using principles of community behavioral change. At the basic level, she explores the consequences of moderate/healthy levels of alcohol consumption throughout the adult life span.

Here at VCU, she conducts research and oversees ongoing academic programs and research training at the graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral levels, to reduce community health disparities within the Center of Inclusion, Inquiry, and Innovation.


  • NIH Clinical Loan Repayment, 2006
  • NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH): Fellow, 2007
  • Provost Outstanding Teaching Award Finalist: University of Kentucky, 2008
  • NIH Career Award (KAward), 2012
  • Gerontological Society of America Fellow, 2019


  • Zanjani F, Allen H; Clayton R; Martin C; Schoenberg N. Sustained Intervention Effects on Older Adults’ Attitudes Towards Alcohol and Medication Interactions. American Journal of Health Education 2018; 49(20): 66-73.
  • Zanjani F, Downer B, Kruger T, Schaie KW, Willis SL. Alcohol effects on cognitive change in middle-aged and older adults. Aging and Mental Health 2013; 17(1): 12-23. PMID: 2293483
  • Zanjani F, Mavandadi S, TenHave T, Katz I, Durai NB, Krahn D, Llorente M, Kirchner J, Olsen E, Van Stone W, Cooley S, Oslin DW. Longitudinal course of substance treatment benefits in older male veteran at-risk drinkers. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008;63(1):98-106. PubMed PMID: 18245767.
  • Zanjani F, Miller, B, Turiano, N, Ross J, Oslin D (2008). Effectiveness of Telephone Based Referral-Care Management, a Brief Intervention Designed to Improve Engagement in Depression and Substance Treatment. Psychiatric Services, 59(7): 776-781.
  • Zanjani F, Smith R, Svetla S, Charnigo R, Clayton R, Martin C, Schoenberg N. Concurrent Alcohol and Medication Poisoning Hospital Admissions Among older Rural and Urban residents. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2016; 42(4): 422-430.
  • Kuerbris A, Moore A, Sacco P, Zanjani F (2017). Alcohol and Aging: Clinical and Public Health Perspectives. Springer, 2017.