Bio | Jessica Cance, Ph.D.

Jessica Cance is a Research Public Health Analyst in RTI’s Substance Use, Prevention, Evaluation and Research Program with over 20 years of research and practice experience in adolescent and young adult health. While her work focuses on substance use and misuse (including but not limited to alcohol, marijuana, opioids, prescription drug misuse, and methamphetamine), she also has experience in suicidality, sexual health, and violence prevention.

Dr. Cance previously worked with RTI from 2001-2006, contributing to a wide range of projects, including national epidemiologic research and cross-site evaluations, as well as work to prevent substance use and sexual risk taking among vulnerable adolescents. During her doctoral studies, she focused on obtaining training in advanced quantitative methods and intervention development and evaluation. As an assistant professor in Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin for six years, Dr. Cance led and collaborated on epidemiological and etiological research with existing datasets and national evaluation research, funded through local, federal, and foundation grants.

Before her return to RTI in 2019, Dr. Cance worked for four years in the Texas state government. While at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, she provided technical assistance and contract oversight to community agencies funded to build coalitions and deliver substance use and misuse prevention programming throughout the state. She was also responsible for the development and execution of the state’s strategy related to opioid misuse prevention, which included active partnerships and contracts with community-based organizations, health care systems, law enforcement, universities, and other key stakeholders.

As the Agency Analytics Unit Manager at the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Dr. Cance oversaw the analysis and dissemination of public health information available at DSHS and other Texas agencies. Dr. Cance led the agency’s efforts to enhance the state’s capacity to rapidly respond to the opioid overdose crisis through improved data collection and served as the surveillance lead for DSHS’ statewide strategic plan to address substance use from a public health perspective. Dr. Cance continues to serve as a subject matter expert in statewide trends in substance misuse and related harms.