Albright, David L., PhD

Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health Research, Director of the Office for Military Families and Veterans, Vital Principal Investigator, University Distinguished Research Professor
Contact Information Areas of Interest and Expertise
  • Community Health Resilience
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Military and Veterans
  • Public Policy
  • Rural Health


  • B.A., Centre College
  • MSW, Florida State University
  • Ph.D., Florida State University


David L. Albright, Ph.D., MSW, is a University Distinguished Research Professor and the Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health Research at The University of Alabama. He is committed to public policy and administrative leadership aimed at improving the health, well-being, safety, and prosperity of vulnerable populations, rural and underserved communities, and our country’s military Veterans.

Dr. Albright studies the social-ecological features of behavioral health, with an emphasis on occurrence, the severity of harm and psychosocial impact, and the differential consequences for high-risk, underserved, and vulnerable populations in the rural South. His research examines both the health status and risk behaviors of individuals with trauma, psychiatric, or substance use history and community barriers and facilitators to their access and utilization of mental health and addiction services. He has published widely and is the recipient of federal, state, and foundation research grants and contracts.

Dr. Albright is the VitAL Principal Investigator. VitAL is a research, implementation, and training and education initiative that aims to improve services, policies, and community and social conditions for Alabamians with mental health, substance use disorder, or trauma-related challenges. The VitAL team currently works with community and organizational stakeholders within and across all of Alabama’s 67 counties.

Committed to service and leadership, Dr. Albright holds multiple appointments in the community and across the state of Alabama with the objective of advising strategies that address social needs and community conditions across the continuum of care that could improve health, life expectancy, and quality of life, while also reducing related health care costs and productivity losses. Serving locally, he contributes to health systems governance as an appointed fiduciary for the DCH Healthcare Authority, which is a network of community hospitals and other assets that serves the West Alabama region. He serves as a board director for the National Association for Rural Mental Health and is the board president-elect of the Alabama Rural Health Association. He also holds a gubernatorial appointment to the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. He has previously served as a board director for the Alabama Balance of State Continuum, which oversees the planning of services related to homelessness across 42 rural counties.

During his career, Dr. Albright has earned research fellowships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Rural Health Association, and the RAND Corporation. He has been appointed to multiple committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – the nation’s pre-eminent source of high-quality, objective advice on health matters – having served on its Committee for the Well-Being of Military Families (2018), the Committee on the Progress toward Human Health and Community Resilience in the Gulf of Mexico Region (2021), a Congressionally mandated study committee to examine drug and alcohol programs within the U.S. Department of Transportation (2022), and Integrating Human Sciences to Scale Societal Responses to Environmental Change (2023). He was recently appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee to provide advice on healthcare issues that affect Veterans residing in rural areas.

Dr. Albright is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and the National Academies of Practice in Social Work. He has been recognized for excellence and innovation in teaching and curriculum design and received the Outstanding Commitment to Advising award from The University of Alabama. He has also been recognized by the University with the Outstanding Community Engagement Effort and the President’s Faculty Research awards.

Dr. Albright lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife and four daughters.