Where were you born?
I was born in La Habana, Cuba and immigrated to the United States as a child at age 8 with my family. I grew up between Pittsburgh, PA and Miami FL.
What school did you attend?
I attended parochial schools in the US through 8th grade. I was in public schools from 9th to 12th grades and attended the University of Miami where I received both a BS and MD degrees.
What gained you interest in the NIH?
My interest in NIH came from a commitment to minority health and health disparities science. As a general internist doing research, education and patient care at UCSF, I had broad perspectives on the multi-disciplinary aspects of research. My 4 years on the NIA Council gave me insights that made me understand how much national leverage was possible from the NIH.
What kind of work do you do at the NIH?
I am the Director of the National Institute on Minority health and Health Disparities. As Director and in collaboration with scientific staff at NIMHD, we defined the vision for advancing health equity through research on improving minority health and reducing health disparities. I am also a tenured senior investigator in the Division of Intramural Research at NHLBI where I conduct analyses of existing data on the health of Latinos and other minorities related to tobacco and other substance use, chronic stress, unhealthy behaviors and mental health.