John P.Elder, PhD, MPHdirector
I got my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1978 (West Virginia University) and first worked in rural mental health in Appalachia. However, I quickly became attracted to more upstream approaches to public health, and moved on to begin a research career with the Pawtucket Heart Health Program at Brown University. At that same time, I did an MPH in international health at Boston University to gain a perspective beyond the chronic disease priorities of “Western” countries. In 1984, I moved to San Diego State University, where the new Graduate School of Public Health was advertising for someone with expertise in “applied behavior analysis”, the Skinnerian perspective within psychology. In 1987, I got my first two grants, Project SHOUT and Project Salsa, the latter with Greg Talavera who has been a professional partner ever since. At around that time I took over the leadership of SDSU’s Center for Behavioral Medicine, which is now the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health (IBACH).
I have had 9 NIH-funded R01s and am the Director of the San Diego Prevention Research Center. My current research emphasis is on obesity prevention with Latino youth. These projects along with the collaboration of the excellent colleagues and students I’ve had at IBACH have yielded about 300 co-authored publications. I have also had the opportunity to work in over 30 countries around the world on infectious diseases and other problems of poverty, but I am proudest of IBACH having become one of the premier Latino community research and post-graduate education centers in the country.
I enjoy spending time with my friends, wife and adult children, watching the San Diego Padres and Nebraska Cornhuskers, and playing blackjack in Vegas. I also keep a large vegetable garden to remind me of my days as a farm boy.
Dr. Gregory Talaveradirector
Dr. Talavera is a bilingual, bicultural physician trained in public health and preventive medicine. During the early part of his career he practiced ambulatory medicine in the Spanish-speaking, underserved communities of San Diego's border region. His current research interests explore the culture-specific beliefs that serve as barriers to chronic disease prevention and control. Currently he is Professor and Head of the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the Graduate School of Public Health. He is Co-Director of the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health.
Dr. Matthew Allison
Dr. Allison is a Native American Physician Scientist and an Associate Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego. He received his doctorate in medicine at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD, did a categorical internship at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, and then served as an Undersea Medical Officer for the next 7 years in the US Navy. During the last 3 years of his naval career, Dr. Allison completed the Master’s degree in Public Health Epidemiology from San Diego State University. Subsequently, he completed the joint UCSD-SDSU residency program in General Preventive Medicine and Public Health and then a research fellowship on the epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular diseases sponsored by the American Heart Association. He joined the faculty at UCSD in 2005 where he has been involved in multiple epidemiologic studies to include the Women’s Health Initiative, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and the Hispanic Communities Health Study. The focus of his research is on risk factors for, and the clinical relevance of, different measures of subclinical atherosclerosis with an emphasis on different measures of body composition. He currently is the Principal Investigator for two NIH R01s, one NIH R21 and is the Associate Director of the Integrated Fellowship Program on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases.
Dr. Elva Arredondo
Following my undergraduate training in psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, I became involved in two public health projects aimed at preventing chronic disease risk in underserved communities. I was passionate about understanding individual and environmental risk factors which contribute to disease risk in underserved communities. In 2003, I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Duke University. Following my internship in behavioral medicine at the University of California, San Diego, I received postdoctoral funding to augment my training at IBACH to learn more about community based intervention/prevention programs targeting chronic disease risk in Latino communities. In 2006, I received a R21 grant from NIH to pilot test a multi-level intervention promoting physical activity in churchgoing Latinas. Following the success of this project, I received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to evaluate the impact of a promotora intervention on policies related to healthy eating and physical activity in faith based organizations. Recently, I received my first NIH R01 to test the efficacy of a faith based intervention promoting physical activity in churchgoing Latinas.
I have lived in Yucatan, Mexico, and conducted public health research in Ecuador, so I apply a cross cultural perspective to my work. I am currently involved in several grants nationally and internationally. With the involvement of talented colleagues, I have co-authored 40 peer reviewed manuscripts and chapters. I enjoy teaching, attending cultural events, running marathons and other races, skiing, rock climbing, biking, and spending time with friends and family.
Dr. Guadalupe X. Ayala
My academic background includes an MA in Experimental Psychology (1997), an MPH in Health Promotion (2002), and a PhD in Clinical Health Psychology from the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at San Diego State University-University of California at San Diego (2002). This combination of degrees reflects my interest in both teasing out what factors are associated with health behaviors, as well as testing strategies for intervening on family and community health. I am currently an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University and Co-Director of the San Diego Prevention Research Center, an academic-community partnership focused on obesity prevention and control.
I am currently running four intervention trials. The first study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is testing the efficacy of an environmental change intervention in grocery stores to increase access to and purchases of fruits and vegetables, as well as consumption among store customers. The second study, funded by the American Cancer Society, is testing the efficacy of an intervention to improve family functioning to promote consumption of fruits and vegetables. The third study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the San Diego Prevention Research Center, is testing the effectiveness of a promotor-based intervention to promote physical activity among residents of South San Diego County. The fourth study, funded by the Peers for Progress network, is evaluating a volunteer peer support intervention to promote diabetes control. This research is grounded on the theoretical assumption that health behavior change is not possible without a supportive social and physical environment.
On a personal note, I am the type of person who can’t sit still so arts and crafts are a nice distraction from my professional work. I am currently working on mosaics. I enjoy swimming, most forms of dance, and hanging out with my husband and our dog Rex.
Dr. Hector Balcazar
Dr. Balcazar serves as the Co-Director of the Hispanic Health Disparities Research Center, an NIH funded initiative in collaboration with the College of Health Sciences of the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Balcazar specializes in the study of public health problems of Latinos/Mexican Americans. Dr. Balcazar is a bilingual, bicultural family and public health scientist who has conducted numerous studies of Latino birth outcomes, acculturation and health related behaviors, cardiovascular disease prevention programs in Latinos, and border health issues. His most recent funded work includes: an NIH initiative to explore health disparity domains in the U.S.-Mexico border area of El Paso Texas; an NIH initiative to test the effects of promotoras de salud in changing clinical outcomes for chronic diseases in El Paso, Texas; a CDC/ASPH project on promotoras de salud and hypertension control; an NHLBI/NIH project on the North Texas Salud Para Su Corazon (Health For Your Heart) Community Health Initiative. As a Latino health specialist Dr. Balcazar provides consultation and leadership to local and national health organizations. Dr. Balcazar has over 140 publications including peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, monographs, and abstracts. Dr. Balcazar currently serves as Chair of the Editorial Board of APHA (American Public Health Association) and as a member of the Executive Committee of Out of Many, One.
Dr. Michael Criqui
Dr. Criqui is Professor and Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. He is also Professor in the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, and is Director of the Preventive Cardiology Academic Award Program. Dr. Criqui received his medical degree and did residency training at the University of California, San Francisco and received the Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. He is Board Certified in General Preventive Medicine by the American College of Preventive Medicine. He is an elected member of the American Epidemiological Society, and is a Fellow of the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Epidemiology, Society for Vascular Medicine, the Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease of the AHA, and the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention of the AHA, for which he served as Chair. He is immediate past chair of the Interdisciplinary Committee on Prevention of the AHA. He currently chairs the International Peripheral Arterial Disease Working Group, for the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study. He has also served on committees for the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Institute of Medicine. He serves on the editorial board for several journals, and is Senior Consultant to the Editorial Board for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Criqui is an active and productive investigator in cardiovascular epidemiology and preventive cardiology, and has made seminal contributions in the fields of peripheral arterial disease, subclinical atherosclerosis, and peripheral venous disease. He has published over 400 manuscripts and book chapters, and has been an invited lecturer at numerous national and international meetings. He has received several national/international awards including the Joseph E. Stokes III Preventive Cardiology Award (2001), the Frederick H. Epstein Memorial Lecture Award (2002), the AHA Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Special Recognition Award (2004), the Distinguished Achievement Award, AHA Council on Epidemiology and Prevention (2008), the President’s Award for Vision from the Vascular Disease Foundation (2010), and named as a Distinguished Scientist of the American Heart Association (2010).
Dr. Linda Gallo
Dr. Gallo received her PhD in Clinical/Health Psychology from the University of Utah in 1998. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, she joined the faculty of San Diego State University in 2001. She is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology, a Core Faculty Member in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public Health, and a Co-Director of the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health Studies (BACH). Her research focuses on psychosocial and behavioral processes in chronic disease risks and outcomes and on socioeconomic status and ethnicity-related health inequities. Much of her research applies a multi-level, inter-disciplinary, bio-psychosocial approach, incorporating macro level factors such as social status and ethnicity, individual and family level psychological and social factors, and biological mechanisms and indicators of health and disease (e.g., subclinical assessments of atherosclerosis; ambulatory blood pressure; inflammatory markers). Dr. Gallo has served as principal or co-investigator for a number of studies addressing socioeconomic and ethnic disparities in chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. These studies have emphasized identifying underlying psychobiological pathways, and developing and testing culturally tailored interventions to reduce chronic disease risks in underserved populations, particularly those with low socioeconomic status and Latino ethnicity. Dr. Gallo has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, books, and book chapters, and has received several national awards in recognition of her research program.
Dr. Carmen R. Isasi, MD, PhD
Dr. Isasi is Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She received an MD degree from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Peru, and later pursued a career in research, receiving a PhD from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her area of research relates to the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Her research focuses on the psychosocial determinants of obesity and dietary choice in Latino and urban populations, with especial focus on youth. In addition to her research, Dr. Isasi teaches Epidemiology at Einstein Clinical Research Training Program.
Simon Marshall, PhD
Dr. Marshall grew up in Zambia and in different parts of the UK (parts where the rain comes at you sideways). As his dreams of becoming a professional cyclist faded, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Sports Science at Liverpool Polytechnic (UK), followed by a master’s degree in kinesiology from SDSU. He returned to the UK in 1998 to complete a PhD in exercise psychology, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in physical activity and public health. From 2002-2012, he served as professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at SDSU. In addition to his faculty role at UCSD, Dr. Marshall serves as associate director of UCSD's Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) in the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems. He has over 16 years of experience in designing and implementing methods for measuring and evaluating physical activity. Since 2004, Dr. Marshall’s externally funded research has focused predominantly on physical activity and exercise promotion in the Latino community. He served as principal investigator (PI) for Pasos Adelante, a Spanish language physical activity program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and he currently serves as PI for Academia Fit, a CDC-funded translation study of supervised, grouped-based exercise classes offered in public parks and recreation centers. He has authored over 60 articles and book chapters on physical activity and sedentary behavior, and serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. When not working he tries to keep up with his professional triathlete wife, Lesley Paterson, who continually reminds him that exercising in San Diego is as close to paradise as it comes.
Dr. Thom McKenzie
Dr. Thom McKenzie is Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University and former Adjunct Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego. A native of Canada, he is a former school physical education and health teacher, coach, and administrator, a director of residential camping programs for the overweight, and a performance enhancement consultant with USA Volleyball for 16 years. He has authored or co-authored over 160 scientific papers and chapters and developed numerous assessment and curricular materials Dr. McKenzie is a Fellow of four professional organizations and has been an investigator on 13 large-scale multidisciplinary research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health, including SPARK, CATCH, MSPAN, TAAG, and MOVE. His expertise in designing and assessing physical activity programs for diverse populations is widely recognized, including being selected as a member of the Science Board, President’s (US) Council for Physical Fitness and Sports (2006-2009). He has received numerous professional awards, including the International Olympic Committee President’s Prize for sport and physical education program development, research, and scholarship and the Public Service Award from the International Society of Behavior Analysis.
Frank Penedo, PhD is the Inaugural Roswell Park Professor leading the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Survivorship Research Program. He has a reputation as a scholar of health disparities and outcomes in ethnically diverse populations and will lead research into the most effective ways to promote cancer prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment in local, national, and international communities.
Penedo joined MSS in June, 2012 after having served on the faculty at the University of Miami since 2000, most recently as an associate professor in psychology. He also held a secondary appointment as an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Earning his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and PhD in clinical psychology at Miami, Penedo has been honored with numerous awards over the past decade, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine Early Career Award in 2005 and its Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
Dr. Penedo is a very successful researcher in the bio-psychosocial aspects of cancer and he excels at bringing these aspects together into one coherent understanding of the disease strong track record of funding in cancer control and related fields.
As director of the research program in cancer control, Penedo will be charged with bringing together the diverse talents of more than 40 Lurie Cancer Center members researching screening, treatment decision making, symptom management, and survivorship. He will also work to establish a Center for Bio-behavioral Oncology.
The principal investigator of nearly $8 million in National Cancer Institute grants, Penedo has published more than 100 articles and abstracts in his 12-year professional career.
His current research is focused on prostate cancer survivorship in Hispanic populations. It focuses on several questions, including the extent to which ethnic and sociocultural factors may promote or hinder chronic disease adjustment and health outcomes; whether sociocultural and psychosocial factors impact immune parameters in chronically ill populations; and the extent to which stress- and age-related decrements in immune and endocrine function can be buffered or exacerbated by psychosocial factors.
Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez
Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, an internationally recognized cancer and chronic disease health disparities researcher and spokesperson, is a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she also is founding director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research, which researches health disparities among minorities. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Ramirez has directed many research programs focused on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting Latinos, including cancer risk factors and genetics, clinical trial recruitment and retention, tobacco prevention and cessation, obesity prevention, and more. Dr. Ramirez directs two national research networks, one funded by the National Cancer Institute to focus on Latino cancer (Redes En Acción, www.redesenaccion.org) and one on Latino child obesity (Salud America!, www.salud-america.org). Dr. Ramirez also mentors Latino undergrad, pre- and post-doctoral students, contributes to the scientific literature and serves on editorial boards for several journals. She has received many awards for her work to reduce cancer disparities, including 2007 election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. She also chairs the CDC’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Control Advisory Committee and is a member of: the Scientific Advisory Board, Susan G. Komen For the Cure; Scientific Advisory Board, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade; and Board of Directors, Lance Armstrong Foundation. Locally she is a member of the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council and the San Antonio Texas Tobacco Prevention & Control Coalition. Dr. Ramirez received a B.S. from The University of Houston and M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. degrees from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. Read her blog at www.saludtoday.com/blog
James Sallis, Ph.D
James F. Sallis, Ph.D. is Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and Director of Active Living Research. His primary research interests are promoting physical activity and understanding policy and environmental influences on physical activity, nutrition, and obesity. He has made contributions in the areas of measurement, correlates of physical activity, intervention, and advocacy. His health improvement programs have been studied and used in health care settings, schools, universities, and companies. He is an author of over 500 scientific publications, co-author of several books, on the editorial boards of several journals, and one of the world's most cited authors in the social sciences.
Dr. Sallis has received awards for his science from the American College of Sports Medicine, Society of Behavioral Medicine, and American Psychological Association Division of Health Psychology. He received a lifetime achievement award from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. His current focus is using research to inform policy and environmental changes that will increase physical activity and reduce childhood obesity. He is a frequent consultant to universities, health organizations, and corporations worldwide. Dr. Sallis frequently appears in major media outlets, and Time Magazine identified him as an "obesity warrior". Visit Dr. Sallis' Web site at http://sallis.ucsd.edu.