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Maria Fernandez, PhD

Associate Director,

Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research,

University of Texas-Houston, School of Public Health

Maria E. Fernandez, PhD., is an Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the UTSPH and Associate Director for the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research. She is also the Director of Diversity Programs at the School of Public Health. Since 2002 she has lead the University of Texas Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network: LINCC- Latinos in a Network for Cancer Control. Her research focuses on cancer prevention and control among low-income and minority populations, particularly Hispanics. She has extensive experience developing and evaluating health promotion interventions, many with community health worker and/or navigation components, and conducts research to improve dissemination and implementation of effective programs.

Early in her career, Dr. Fernandez directed an NCI SBIR to test a multimedia intervention for increasing breast and cervical cancer screening among low-income Hispanic women. She then went to the University of Texas as a post doctoral fellow on a Preventive Oncology Academic Award (R25). She completed an NCI K07 on repeat mammography screening among women enrolled in the ENCOREplus program in YWCAs across the country. 

Dr. Fernandez developed a strong collaboration with the National Center for Farmworker Health and collaborated with them on a CDC funded study on the development, evaluation, and dissemination of an intervention: Cultivando la Salud (Cultivating Health) – a Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening among Farmworker Women. Recently, she completed a study on which she was the Principal Investigator to develop and evaluate a tailored multimedia intervention to increase colorectal cancer screening among Hispanics living along the Texas-Mexico Border. She recently completed a project (Co-PI) to increase use of the NCI’s Cancer Information Service for information on HPV and cervical cancer. Dr. Fernandez is the PI of the recently funded NCI U54, Reducing Cancer Disparities among Latinos in Texas, a regional NCI-funded Community Network Program (CNP), and PI for the Outreach Core of this CNP. She is the Co-PI on the Community Outreach Component of the University of Texas CTSA. She is the lead on anotherCommunity Outreach Program for an NCI-funded Minority Institution/ Comprehensive Cancer Centers Program (U54) with MD Anderson and the University of Puerto Rico that focuses on increasing use of evidence-based cancer control in Puerto Rico. She is the PI on two Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) projects: A Collaboration with the United Way's 2-1-1 Program, and Cancer Communication Interventions to Increase HPV Vaccination among Hispanic Adolescents.

Dr. Fernandez recently co-authored the3rd edition of Planning Health Promotion Programs: An Intervention Mapping Approach (2011) including a new chapter on using the intervention mapping approach for program adaptation.