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Dr. Dustin Sarver

Dustin Sarver Headshot

Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior; Department of Pediatrics
Office: AE-014
Phone: 601-815-5994


  • BA, Oklahoma Baptist University, 2005, Psychology (Summa Cum Laude)
  • MS, University of Central Florida, 2010, Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Internship, Medical University of South Carolina, 2012
  • PhD, University of Central Florida, 2013
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Virginia, Center to Promote Effective Youth Development (Youth-Nex), 2014

Research interests

  • Etiological factors, characteristics, and outcomes of child neurodevelopmental (ADHD, autism, developmental delays) and behavioral disorders
  • Behavioral and family interventions addressing early disruptive behavior (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy)
  • Population and patient-level telehealth interventions, models, and continuums of care that support developmental and behavioral health in children.

Current research

Etiology, characteristics, and outcomes of child neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders. This research area has focused on the delineating the role of cognitive impairments in expression of ADHD symptoms and functional outcomes, and understanding the substantial heterogeneity across and within various neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders. This work has used multiple methodologies to document the wide array of functional impairments in ADHD and their predictors, including peer, academic, family, driving, sexual, and health outcomes. This work has also challenged extant conceptual models of ADHD and raised the possibility that some core symptom behaviors (i.e., hyperactivity) may be functional in some subgroups of children, which further substantiates that the marked heterogeneity in the disorder can be tractably mapped.

Behavioral interventions addressing early disruptive behavior. Behavioral approaches are first line approaches for addressing disruptive behavior, and my work has intentionally incorporated approaches that bridge the translational research gap. For instance, this work has examined parent and child neurocognitive predictors of behavioral parent training and compared traditional parent training to innovative cognitive training programs for ADHD. A strong focus of my current research and grant work has surrounded deploying and evaluating Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) for high-risk infants and preschoolers with behavioral concerns. This work has also implemented and is evaluating a companion prevention training to PCIT, Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE), with teachers and allied health professionals in the community.

Telehealth interventions, models, and continuums of care supporting developmental-behavioral health. This aspect of my research and program development portfolio links the outcomes and evaluation work above to the implementation of population-level mental health supports for children. This work has outlined the need, strategies, and efforts for disseminating and implementing statewide efforts of developmental-behavioral services, the development and outcomes associated with a statewide child psychiatric teleconsultation system (, and is evaluating an evidence-based continuum of care for high-risk infants and preschoolers with NICU histories. This work provides conceptual, strategic, and early support for their collective deployment within larger health systems.

Research Mentoring and Training.
Mentoring is my favorite professional activity and I find joy in celebrating the accomplishments, contributions, and growth of my trainees at all levels, from undergraduate to postdoctoral. I have lead a HRSA-funded Behavioral Health Workforce Education Training program (called Magnolia) at UMMC to pilot an integrated behavioral healthcare training experience for psychology and professional counseling practicum students since 2017. I also co-direct the Child Health and Development Promotion Fellowship, an interdisciplinary clinical fellowship that is one of the first of its kind in early childhood developmental-behavioral promotion cutting across multiple medical, behavioral, and allied health disciplines using team-based practice. I currently provide research mentorship to multiple trainees on multiple federally funded (NIH, SAMHSA) grants to pre- and postdoctoral psychology trainees, as well as for the UMMC Psychology Internship program. Last, I value mentorship and development of individuals from historically underrepresented groups. I currently serve as sponsor and/or co-mentor for trainees through the APA Minority Fellowship Program and a NIH Pediatric Clinical Trials Network minority-focused training supplement, and provide research and clinical training opportunities for multiple undergraduate and graduate students in my lab from local Historically Black College and Universities

Current funding

MAGNOLIA: Expanding Child and Family Integrated Behavioral Healthcare in Mississippi
Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)
Behavioral Health Workforce, Education, & Training (BHWET) Program
Role: Primary Investigator
$1,822,344 (Competitive Continuation) 
Grant Period: 2021-2025

Child Access to Mental Health and Psychiatry (CHAMP)
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Role: Co-Primary Investigator
Grant Period: 2018-2023

Mississippi Behavioral Health in Infants and Preschoolers (MS BE-HIP)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Role: Primary Investigator
Grant Period: 2018-2023

SFARI Award ID# 385076                                       
Mississippi Collaborative Autism Cohort Study (M-CACS)
Simon’s Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) Genetics Network
Role: Primary Investigator (2020-onward); Co-Investigator (2016-2019)
Grant period: 2016-2022

APA Postdoctoral Minority Fellowship Program      
The last, lost, least, and left out: Clinical and policy training to increase access to care for underserved and rural children and families in Mississippi
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Program (MHSAS); Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Role: Co-Sponsor (PI: Cheatham-Johnson)
Grant Period: 2021-2022

Early Childhood Health Promotion System for a High Need State
Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)
Roles: Co-Investigator; Fellowship Director (PI: Buttross)
Grant Period: 2017-2023

ESSER Behavioral Telehealth in Schools Grant
Mississippi Department of Education
Role: Co-Investigator (PIs: Elkin & Buttross)          
Grant Period: 2021-2023

Diversity Research Supplement
Mississippi ECHO Idea-States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network-2 (ISPCTN)
National Institutes of Health
Role: Research Mentor for Tre Gissandaner (PI: Majure)
Grant Period: 2021-2023

Select publications

Bettencourt, A., Allen, C., Coble, K., Hibbert, T., & Sarver, D.E. (in press). Trends in mental health concerns reported to two statewide pediatric mental health care access programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychiatric Services

Walker, C.S., Walker, B.H., Brown, D., Sarver, D.E. & Buttross, B. (2021). Defining the role of exposure to ACEs in ADHD diagnosis: Examination in a nationally-representative sample of U.S. children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 112

Kofler, M.J., Irwin, L.N., Sarver, D.E., Fosco, W.D., Miller, C.E., Spiegel, J.A., & Becker, S.P. (2019).What cognitive processes are ‘sluggish’ in sluggish cognitive tempo? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 87, 1030-1042

Fosco, W.D., Sarver, D.E., Kofler, M.J., & Aduen, P. (2018). Parent and child cognitive functioning predicts response to behavioral parent training for youth with ADHD. Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, 10, 285-295

Elkin, T.D., Sarver, D.E., Wong Sarver, N. & Young, J., & Buttross, S. (2017). Future directions for dissemination and implementation in a state-wide system. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 46, 619-630.

Sarver, D.E., Rapport, M.D., Kofler, M.J., Friedman, L.M. & Raiker, J.S. (2015). Hyperactivity in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Impairing deficit or compensatory behavior? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43, 1219-1232

Sarver, D.E., McCart, M., Sheidow, A.J., & Letourneau, E. (2014). ADHD and risky sexual behavior in adolescents: Conduct problems and substance use as mediators of risk. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55, 1345-1353