Her research has focused on drug and alcohol use and dependence in vulnerable populations like injection drug users, criminal offenders, women and African-Americans. She has developed internationally recognized assessment tools for drug, alcohol and nicotine use and gambling.
Dr. Cottler is also known for her innovative approach to community-based research. She founded and leads the program HealthStreet, which connects local residents to health care referrals, medical care, social services and opportunities to participate in research. HealthStreet workers are stationed on the street outside grocery stores, bus stops, parks and many other locations throughout the city, to interview residents about their health concerns and link them to services and research opportunities.