Center for Biobehavioral Research

Center for Biobehavioral Research

At the Center for Biobehavioral Research, we work to study complex behaviors and biological factors in laboratory and natural settings. Learn more about the Center’s three research divisions and its areas of interest.

Division of Behavioral Research

The Behavioral Division is devoted to studying behavior and behavioral processes in clinical samples. Our primary research focuses are eating disorders and bariatric surgery patients, but we collaborate with colleagues on a national and international level to examine other topics of interest as well. Researchers gather data in both laboratory and natural settings and are especially interested in cognitive, affective and behavioral variables that relate to a variety of clinical phenomena.

Current major areas of focus include:

  • A study of a treatment model of binge eating disorder
  • Changes in reinforcement and driving impairment associated with alcohol intake before and after bariatric surgery
  • Momentary states and behaviors and the prediction of depression and weight regain after bariatric surgery
  • Self-regulation and eating disorder behavior
  • Loss of control eating in adolescents
  • Study of the habits associated with the maintenance of anorexia nervosa

Division of Biomedical Research

The Division of Biomedical Research pursues an understanding of how biological factors contribute to disease and look for possible pharmacological treatment strategies. Researchers are currently examining areas of research including eating disorders, obesity, and bariatric surgery. We conduct clinical studies involving healthy human volunteers, human volunteers with various disease states or conditions, and human volunteers who will undergo or have undergone bariatric surgery. We also perform scientific experiments in a traditional laboratory settings.

Current major areas of focus include:

  • The role of the gut microbiome in the pathogenesis of disease and as a modulator of weight
  • The effects of bariatric surgery on pharmacokinetics (e.g., drug absorption and metabolism)
  • The effects of bariatric surgery on alcohol use
  • Weight regain following bariatric surgery
  • Mechanisms responsible for drug-associated weight change
  • Pharmacological treatment approaches for weight gain

Division of Biomedical Statistics

The Division of Biomedical Statistics provides support to the Center for Biobehavioral Research and its collaborators in five major areas. They are:

  • Grant writing support: Assisting with research design; generating power analysis and sample size; developing statistical analysis plans; and conducting data management and storage.
  • Research support: Development of data collection systems; research training; preparing and updating manuals of operation; data tracking and monitoring; data management, verification and cleaning; data report generation; data exploring; syntax creation and setup; and data analysis and interpretation.
  • Presentation/publication support: Support for abstract writing, presentations, papers, graphs and tables. 
  • Consulting services: Serves as grant consultants, assisting with research design; and completing associated statistical analyses. 
  • Teaching and mentoring: Provides assistance with research courses, training grants, T32 postdoctoral students, workshops and seminars.

(701) 293-1335

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Our Team

Meet the Team

Stephen A. Wonderlich, PhD
Vice President Research, Sanford Health

Ross D. Crosby, PhD
Director of Biomedical Statistics

Scott Engel, PhD
Director, Center for Biobehavioral Research

Kristine Steffen, PharmD, PhD
Director of Biomedical Research, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, North Dakota State University

Lauren M. Schaefer, PhD

Assistant Scientist

Gail Kerver, PhD
Assistant Scientist

James E. Mitchell, MD

Joseph Wonderlich, PhD
Assistant Scientist

Dorian Dodd, PhD
Assistant Scientist

Leslie Laam, PhD
Assistant Scientist

Leah A. Irish, PhD
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University

Jeff Johnson, PhD
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Associate Professor, North Dakota State University

Nicola Herting, PhD
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Mental Health Director, Red River Children's Advocacy Center

Paul D. Rokke, PhD
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, North Dakota State University

Emily Sargent, PhD
Clinical Investigator, Center for Biobehavioral Research, Sanford Research 
Post-Doctoral Psychology Resident, Sanford Health

Robert Dvorak, PhD
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Associate Professor at University of Central Florida

Lee Baugh, PhD
Adjunct Faculty, Center for Biobehavioral Research
Associate Professor Basic Biomedical Sciences USD

Glen Forester, PhD
NIMH T32 Post Doc

Frequently Asked Questions

What is clinical research?

Clinical research involves scientific studies that are conducted with human participants. Often times it includes patient oriented research which promotes a better understanding of human disease, new treatments, and scientific tests of such treatments. Clinical research may also attempt to clarify how particular diseases or disorders develop in the population.

Why is conducting research studies important?

Research helps us to better understand how people, and the world in which they live, function and operate. As scientific research helps us to gain a better understanding of our world, we are also able to create solutions which are most likely to be helpful. When we are talking about medically oriented research, we are often talking about the origins of various diseases and disorders and the development of new strategies and treatments to help patients who are afflicted.

What happens when I sign up for a study?

If you sign-up for a study, the research staff from the study will call you to complete a phone screen to see if you qualify. The phone screen is usually pretty short and will take five to 10 minutes. Typically, the next step will have you come in to our facility for further assessment. Each study protocol is different so the next step could include a physical, blood draw, and drug screen or completing interviews with our assessors and filling out surveys. Staff will assist you every step of the way through the study to ensure your safety and answer any questions you may have along the way.

Do I have to get stuck with a needle?

There are a few studies that need to draw blood throughout the study. If this is not something you care to do, please make sure to choose another study that suits your comfortability levels.

Can I be on medication and still be in a research study?

Some of the research studies are not affected by your current medication status. Each study will have inclusion and exclusion criteria. We will let you know if any medications interfere with participation.

Will I get paid?

Compensation for studies can be dispersed by check through mail or gift cards, depending on the study protocol.

Are there overnight studies?

CBR does not have studies that are conducted over night. CBR works closely with each participant to find a date and time that works best in his or her schedule to complete a study day. Some studies run for just a couple hours while others can go up to 8 hours. Other studies are completed in one day while some run a few days consecutively or with a span of time in between.

How can I sign up to participate?

If you would like to sign up or to learn about ongoing studies, call us at (701) 293-1335 or email us. We look forward to hearing from you.

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