Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Receives AACR Distinguished Lecture on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities


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The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Distinguished Lecture on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities, funded by Susan G. Komen, honors an investigator whose novel and significant work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer health disparities.

Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH

Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH

The recipient of the 2016 award is Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH. Dr. Ramirez is Interim Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research; Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Health Disparities, as well as for Community Research; Dielmann Chair in Health Disparities Research and Community Outreach; Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Endowed Chair in Cancer Health-Care Disparities and Outreach; and Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Dr. Ramirez delivered her award lecture, titled “Health Communications Research to Reduce Latino Cancer Health Disparities,” at The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved Conference on September 25.

Public Health, Health-Care Disparities

Dr. Ramirez has a well-established public health track record and has made numerous scientific contributions in behavioral science, epidemiology, and health communication research, particularly in cancer control and prevention. She is thoroughly familiar with the cultural traditions and nuances of the Latino population.

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, clinical trial recruitment, patient navigation, tobacco prevention, obesity prevention, and more. Dr. Ramirez directs two national research networks, one funded by the National Cancer Institute targeting Latino cancer (Redes En Acción, redesenaccion.org) and one funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation targeting Latino child obesity (Salud America!, salud.to/saludamerica). 

Dr. Ramirez has pioneered the Diffusion Acceleration Model (using mass media plus interpersonal communication) to deliver and reinforce positive health messages. She led studies using this model to accelerate behavioral and policy changes among Latinos, including improving cancer screening rates and reducing tobacco use in South Texas. In the 1990s, Dr. Ramirez launched a six-city research coalition that was the first to identify major differences in health knowledge and behaviors among different Latino populations.

Her work through Redes En Acción has, among other things, proven the efficacy of patient navigation to reduce Latinas’ lag times between an abnormal mammogram to confirmatory diagnosis and start of treatment.

Her work through Salud America! applies social cognitive theory across different communication media and taps multimedia channels to empower a network to develop healthy policy and environmental changes for Latino children. ■

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