People

Center Director Paula Braveman, MD, MPH, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF, is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in research on health inequalities. For more than 25 years, Dr. Braveman has studied and published extensively on health equity and the social determinants of health, and has worked to bring attention to these issues in the United States and internationally. Her research has focused on measuring, documenting, understanding, and addressing socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities, particularly in maternal and infant health. During the 1990s, she collaborated with World Health Organization staff in Geneva to develop a global initiative on equity in health and health care. She has been the Research Director for a national U.S. commission on the social determinants of health supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with local, state, federal, and international health agencies to see rigorous research translated into practice with the goal of achieving greater equity in health. She has been a member of multiple federal and international health research advisory groups, including the Advisory Council of the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities of NIH, and currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Office of Health Equity in the California Department of Public Health. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2002.

 

Center Co-Director Susan Egerter, PhD, is a Researcher in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Her work focuses on applying epidemiologic methods in policy-relevant studies of socioeconomic and racial-ethnic inequalities in maternal and infant health and health care, and on translating findings from that research to inform public health policy and practice through collaboration with local, state and national stakeholders and decision-makers. Dr. Egerter currently is project director of CSDH’s ongoing collaboration with the California Department of Public Health Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program to evaluate its Black Infant Health Program (BIH) serving low-income African-American pregnant and parenting women, and of a W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded project aiming to further improve African-American maternal and infant health outcomes by supplementing core BIH program activities with interventions that more intensively address key social determinants of health. She also served as co-director of research for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s recent Commission to Build a Healthier America, which highlighted the role of social factors in shaping health and health disparities in this country. Dr. Egerter trained as a perinatal epidemiologist at Yale University, and first joined the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF in 1987 as a postdoctoral fellow in health services research.

 

Center Co-Director Kristen Marchi, MPH, is a survey researcher and epidemiologist in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She is primarily interested in social disparities in maternal health and access to care. Over the past 20 years, her work has focused on conducting policy-relevant survey research on maternal and infant health and health care, and on translating findings from that research to inform public health policy and practice. She collaborates regularly with local, state and national stakeholders and decision-makers. For over 15 years, Ms. Marchi has been the project director of CSDH’s ongoing collaboration with the California Department of Public Health Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program to conduct California’s Maternal and Infant Health Assessment (MIHA), an annual, population-based survey of post-partum women in California. The results from that survey, and from an earlier, in-hospital survey of 10,000 post-partum women conducted by CSDH, have been used to promote program and policy changes in maternal and infant health and health care throughout in California and nationally. Ms. Marchi also is involved as a consultant on a follow-up survey to MIHA examining physical activity and nutritional intake in 6 large counties in California. Additionally, she collaborates with staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a series of efforts related to maternal and infant health surveillance. Ms. Marchi trained in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, and first joined the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF in 1993.

 

Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh, ScD., MPH serves as affiliated faculty at CSDH and at UCSF's Center on Health and Risk in Minority Youth and Adults. Dr. Sanchez-Vaznaugh is associate professor in the Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University (SFSU), where she teaches epidemiology and biostatistics in the MPH Program. She received a doctorate of science in Social Epidemiology from Harvard University’s School of Public Health, and completed postdoctoral research in the Kellogg Health Scholars program at CSDH. Her research focuses on two interrelated strands: social inequalities in health and the extent to which environments and policies impact (or not) population patterns of disease overall and according to race or ethnicity, migration and socioeconomic status. Her research includes studies on the socioeconomic gradient in body weight across racial or ethnic groups and immigrant status and on the relationships between school-based nutrition and physical education policies and population patterns of child fitness and body weight. Her current research involves investigations on Latina/White patterns in birth weight, the role of nearby school environments in the variability of children’s health, and racial or ethnic disparities in childhood obesity. Dr. Sanchez-Vaznaugh recently served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment.

 

Julia Acker is a Research Assistant who contributes to CSDH’s work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the California Department of Public Health. She primarily performs literature reviews and provides writing and editing assistance for RWJF-published issue briefs focused on health equity, and serves as the program assistant for the UCSF/UC Berkeley MD-MPH Program. She received her BS in Global Public Health and Applied Psychology and minor in Sociology from New York University in 2017. As an undergraduate, Julia was a research assistant for the Latino Family Engagement and Language Development project at NYU, and for the Department of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University. She also served as the Editor-in-Chief of an undergraduate peer-reviewed psychology journal, the Online Publication of Undergraduate Studies.

 

Miranda Brillante, MPH, is the Research Assistant on W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded work to develop and test two supplementary interventions to the core BIH Program. She received her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from UC Berkeley in 2012, with applied training in quantitative research methods, program planning, and program evaluation. While at UC Berkeley, Miranda worked on MCH advocacy and research projects at the California WIC Association and the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. Prior to graduate school, Miranda coordinated teen peer health education programs at the City of Berkeley Public Health Division. 

 

Mercedes Dekker, MPH, is a Research Analyst and Project Coordinator for two related projects at CSDH aimed at improving African-American birth outcomes and reducing black-white disparities in health using approaches focused on social determinants of infant and maternal health. The first project is a collaborative effort with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to implement and evaluate California’s Black Infant Health Program (BIH). The second is a related initiative, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, to supplement core BIH services by developing, implementing, and evaluating two interventions designed to: (1) strengthen pregnant and parenting African-American women’s financial management capacities through a financial literacy and asset development program and (2) promote self-esteem and racial pride using Photovoice. Ms. Dekker has also contributed to CSDH’s work supporting the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Commission to Build a Healthier America. She received her BA in Sociology from San Francisco State University and her MPH in Health Behavior/Health Promotion from Portland State University.

 

Katherine Heck, MPH, is a Research Analyst on the Maternal and Infant Health Assessment project. She works on the creation and analysis of the MIHA data sets, as well as on questionnaire development and reporting. Katherine’s background and interests are in population-based data analysis with a focus on socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in maternal, child, and adolescent health and well-being. She received her MPH, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of Washington in 1995. Following an Association of Schools of Public Health fellowship in health disparities, Katherine worked as a Health Statistician in the Infant and Child Health Studies Branch at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, where she led the production of the federal interagency statistical report, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. Before joining CSDH, she worked on the Maternal and Infant Health Assessment and other topics of joint state-federal interest at the CDPH Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, and as a specialist in

 

Monisha Shah, MPH, is a Research Analyst for the Maternal and Infant Health Assessment (MIHA) and for W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded work to supplement the core Black Infant Health Program (BIH) services. Prior to joining CSDH, Monisha worked as a research coordinator in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University. She was previously at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine’s Mary Amelia Women’s Center, where she received her MPH in both Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health from 2010-2013. Before her MPH, Monisha worked at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, where she assisted on perinatal epidemiological studies looking to find the causes of autism. Her research interests are investigating social and environmental exposures in pregnancy and birth outcomes. She received her BS in Human Development from UC Davis in 2008.