The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program ended February 2017. The site will no longer be updated. More »

Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H.

Term: July 1, 2011 - August 31, 2016

Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, an internationally recognized cancer and chronic disease health disparities and communications researcher, 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 ( Dr. Ramirez has two endowments to support her research and that of the IHPR—the Dielmann Chair in Health Disparities Research and Community Outreach and the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Endowed Chair in Cancer Healthcare Disparities and Outreach at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC), the Health Science Center’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. She also is Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Health Disparities at the CTRC, where she oversees program development, translational research, cancer surveillance data, recruitment, and minority outreach and trial accrual.

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 accrual, tobacco prevention and cessation, obesity prevention, and more. All projects are theory-based, quasi-experimental, and focused on cancer, chronic disease, and/or obesity prevention. These projects have led to unique health communication models and interventions that have contributed to increased access to care, preventive screening rates, and healthy behavior changes. Dr. Ramirez is a pioneer of the theory-based “dual-link” communication model, which combines behavioral journalism techniques pushed through mass media (peer modeling) and the creation of culturally relevant peer models in the community to build local networks and reinforce mass media messages (peer reinforcement). Dr. Ramirez directs two national research networks, one funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to target Latino cancer through research, training, and education (Redes En Acción,, and one funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to target Latino childhood obesity through evidence-based research, field-building, and community engagement and empowerment for healthy change (Salud America!, For Salud America!, she led: producing e-communications and videos with the latest in Latino childhood obesity news, research, funding, and events; developed the first-ever Latino Childhood Obesity Research Priority Agenda; funded 20 grantee researchers who leveraged $1.5 million in Salud America! funding into more than $30 million in new research funding; developed the Policy Contribution Spectra, an evidence-based model that visually illustrates, defines, and measures the process of policy contribution; published a special supplement to inform the research field; and launched the Salud America! Growing Healthy Change website to give people the policies, resources, and stories to spur healthy change (

Dr. Ramirez also has personally trained and/or mentored over 200 Hispanic undergraduate and pre- and post-doctoral students, as well as early-career faculty members, instructing about research design, methods, data analysis, and career development. She directs Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, an NCI-funded project to train and encourage Latino master’s-level students and professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and cancer research career.

Dr. Ramirez is a leader in social media as director of the SaludToday social media campaign for Latino health. The SaludToday blog ( and associated Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages combine Dr. Ramirez’ internal research and communications—evidence-based, culturally tailored educational videos, articles, and websites—and curated news to promote Latino health.

Dr. Ramirez has been recognized for her work in public health and disparities research, communications, and training across the U.S., including: 2014 Making a Difference Award from Latinas Contra Cancer; 2012 First Lady of the Intercultural Cancer Council at Baylor College of Medicine; 2011 White House “Champion of Change”; 2009 Health Care Hero from the San Antonio Business Journal; 2007 election to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies; 2007 Professor of Survivorship from Susan G. Komen For the Cure; and the 2003 Humanitarian Award from the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Ramirez is a member of various national and regional advisory groups and coalitions:

  • Scientific Advisory Board, Susan G. Komen For the Cure
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade
  • Board of Directors, Lance Armstrong Foundation
  • Board of Directors, RWJF Health & Society Scholars Program
  • Board of Directors, C-CHANGE
  • Council of Experts, National Call to Action (NCTA)
  • IOM Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities
  • IOM Roundtable on Translating Genomic Based Research for Health (former)
  • CDC’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Control Advisory Committee (former)
  • Prize Jury, Fries Prize for Improving Health Award and the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award, James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation
  • Scientific and Prevention Advisory Council, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
  • Mayor’s Fitness Council, City of San Antonio

Dr. Ramirez received a B.S. from the University of Houston and her M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. degrees from the University of Texas Health Science Center at the Houston School of Public Health.