Written by Cliff Despres, Institute for Health Promotion Research, UT Health San Antonio
Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio and a leading health disparities researcher, has been selected for the 2022 AAHHE Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues Award.
The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments and support of the mission of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Inc. (AAHHE).
AAHHE is an agent of change for improving education and enabling Latino students to fully participate in a diverse society. The organization works collaboratively with all sectors — education, business, industry, community and professional organizations — to meet the educational aspirations of a significantly increasing Latino population.
Dr. Ramirez will receive the award at the 2022 AAHHE National Conference on March 10.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by the AAHHE, which is making advances in advocating for Latino education issues and helping develop Latino faculty, administrators and students,” Dr. Ramirez said.
Dr. Ramirez and her health equity research
Dr. Ramirez is an internationally recognized health disparities researcher at UT Health San Antonio, where she is professor and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research. She also is associate director of cancer outreach and engagement at the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Ramirez gained experience developing research and communication models to improve Latino health locally and nationally.
She currently directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Salud America! national multimedia program to empower its vast network of more than 500,000 community leaders to drive healthy policy and system changes to promote health equity and support for Latino families.
“Our mission is to inspire people to drive community change for health equity for Latino and all families,” Dr. Ramirez said.
Dr. Ramirez and her Latino cancer and education research
Dr. Ramirez also conducts breast cancer disparities research on quality of life and survivorship issues, and directs Quitxt, a bilingual tobacco-cessation service for young Latino adults using mobile-phone text messages. The Quitxt project is funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
One of her aims is to improve Latino participation in clinical trials.
Dr. Ramirez also leads the South Texas site of the Avanzando Caminos study. Avanzando Caminos aims to enroll 1,500 Latino cancer survivors in South Texas and 1,500 more in Miami to help unpack the social, cultural, behavioral, mental, biological and medical influences on post-cancer life.
Dr. Ramirez also has trained/mentored more than 250 Latinos in health fields.
She leads the National Cancer Institute-funded Éxito! training program to help master’s-level students and professionals pursue a doctoral degree and cancer research career. Of 226 Éxito! trainees since 2011, more than 26% have enrolled in or graduated from a doctoral program.
“We work hard to enable Latinos take the next steps from a master’s degree to get their doctoral degree and focus on careers in Latino cancer research and prevention,” Dr. Ramirez said.
Dr. Ramirez and her service, recognition
Dr. Ramirez is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.
She also is a Susan G. Komen Scholar, is on the prize jury for the Fries Prize for Improving Health Award and the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award, and is a past member of the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
In Texas, she is on the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council and is past board president of the The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).
Additional recognition includes:
- 2011: White House Champion of Change
- 2014: APHA Everett M. Rogers Public Health Communication Award
- 2018: Icons in Healthcare Award from CentroMed
- 2018: Leadership of the 1st Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos conference
- 2019: Lifetime Achievement Award in Health Equity from the Society of Behavioral Medicine
- 2019: Bluebonnet Award of the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- 2020: Leadership of the 2nd Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos conference
- 2020: CDC Board of Directors
- 2021: Heroes of the Fight Against COVID-19 of Latino Leaders magazine
- 2021-2022: Chair of the the Women in Cancer Research Council of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
- 2022: Leadership of the 3rd Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos conference
Ramirez earned MPH and DrPH degrees from UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.
She is a native of Laredo, Texas.