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Dr. María Fernández is Vice President of Population Health and Implementation Science at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) and the founding Co-Director of the UTHealth Houston Institute for Implementation Science. Dr. Fernández is also the Lorne Bain Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medicine, Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, and Director of the UTHealth Houston Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR) at the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. As a researcher and a leader, Dr. Fernández has spent her career conducting participatory community-engaged research and practice to develop, evaluate, implement, and disseminate interventions to improve health and health equity. Her research focuses on cancer and chronic disease prevention and control among underserved populations in the U.S. and globally.
Dr. Fernández is an expert in dissemination and implementation (D&I) research, having served as a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health Study Section and as faculty for several national and international D&I training programs. Dr. Fernández has an extensive portfolio of global, federal, and state-funded research developing and improving evidence-based interventions and guidelines for the prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in clinical and public health settings. Dr. Fernández has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and has co-authored several books, including the 4th edition of Planning Health Promotion Programs: An Intervention Mapping Approach (2016) and the Handbook of Community-based Participatory Research (2017). Her awards include the Association for Schools and Programs of Public Health Research Excellence Award and the UTHealth President's Scholar Award for Research Excellence.