Larissa Aviles-Santa

Larissa Aviles-Santa

Larissa Aviles-Santa

Power Words

Aprende Algo Nuevo, Perseverancia, Integridad
Learn Something New, Perseverance, Integrity

Where were you born? 

Puerto Rico

What school did you attend? 

University of Puerto Rico -Rio Piedras Campus, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

What gained your interest in the NIH? 

While I was working in clinical research in diabetes with Hispanics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was announced by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The NHLBI was looking for a Hispanic/Latino physician or epidemiologist who would become the future project director of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. I saw this as a continuum of my work and interest in Hispanic health: from one-on-one interaction with the patient and participant in a clinical research study, to a large-scale population perspective.

What kind of work do you do at the NIH? 

As director of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, I interact directly with the investigators and staff teams and together discuss study progress, completion of tasks, problem-solving, and potential data analyses, among others. I am often invited to speak about Hispanic health at different venues inside and outside of the NIH. I also have a portfolio of grantees with research projects focused on different aspects of cardiovascular disease. And more recently, with the help of NIH colleagues, I led the creation of the first NIH Hispanic Health Research Scientific Interest Group. The purpose of this group is to discuss research ideas that are both relevant and timely to the Hispanic populations, and which could lead to future inter-Institute or inter-agency initiatives and collaborations.

What message would you like to send to young Hispanics who are considering going to college? 

Education is the greatest asset you can ever own. And it is a lifetime discipline. Develop your skills to their full potential. Never hesitate to learn something new. Seek good mentors, and be eager to learn. Work with integrity. Be perseverant. Be proud of your heritage.