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Mark Holter has almost three decades of social work experience as an advocate, teacher, and researcher. Following 2 1/2 years as a community development volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa, Holter earned both master's and doctoral degrees in social work at Columbia University in New York City, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship under the direction of Sheldon Danziger and Carol Mowbray at the Center for Poverty, Risk and Mental Health at the University of Michigan. He has taught social work courses at the bachelor’s, master's and doctoral levels, including supervision of doctoral dissertations at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, the University of Kansas, and Gävle University.

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His broad area of interest is consumer-centered psychiatric rehabilitation, focusing on adults with severe mental illnesses. He advocates that mental health services should be based on the best available evidence and address the skills and supports consumers of those services need in order to manage illnesses more independently and achieve recovery goals. His research projects are collaborative and broadly interdisciplinary, including economics, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and public health. He has successfully obtained nearly 5 million US dollars (4.5 million Euros) in external funding as PI or co-PI. His work is regularly cited in professional journals, with over 2500 citations to date, resulting in a Google Scholar h-index of 21.