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Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli received his undergraduate degrees in nursing and philosophy from the University of Kentucky. He subsequently earned a Master of Science in Nursing (2002), Master of Science in Public Health (2005), and his Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (2005), all from UK. In 2008 he completed a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) postdoctoral traineeship in tobacco research at the University of British Columbia. In 2010 he further completed a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship in gender, mental health and addictions through the University of British Columbia. Dr. Okoli is a professor at the UK College of Nursing and he directs the Behavioral Health and Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BHWELL) at the UK College of Nursing. He also directs the Behavioral Health Research and Evidence-Based Practice at Eastern State Hospital, a state-psychiatric facility in Lexington, KY.  Building upon his earlier work on the effects of tobacco smoke exposure on smoking behaviors, he currently focuses on addressing access to evidence-based treatments for people living with mental and behavioral health challenges. He is also actively involved in developing approaches to support mental and behavioral health providers to deliver evidence-based treatment within behavioral health settings. He was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2021.

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  • Graduate Certificate, University of Kentucky, 2020
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), 2010
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia, 2008
  • MPH, University of Kentucky, 2005
  • PhD, University of Kentucky, 2005
  • MSN, University of Kentucky, 2002
  • BSN, University of Kentucky, 1999


  • Developing and evaluating tobacco treatment programs for marginalized populations, particularly individuals living with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders

Past Grants

Assessing the Impact of Long-Acting Injectables (LAIs) on Psychiatric Treatment Outcomes Among Medicaid Beneficiaries

Grant Primary Investigator: Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli
Project Period: -
Total Award: $383,440 (Medicaid) and $383,440 (Match), Total= $766,880
Sponsor: Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services

Enhancing Tobacco Treatment in Community Mental Health Centers

Grant Primary Investigator: Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli
Project Period: -
Total Award: $612,941
Sponsor: Kentucky Department of Public Health