Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Center for Reducing Health Disparities, University of California – Davis; Chair, Mental Health America
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis. He is also Founding Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at the UC Davis Health System. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola has nearly 30 years of experience working in the mental health field as a researcher, clinician, professor, and advocate. He is the on-site Principal Investigator of the Mexican American Prevalence and Services Survey (MAPSS), the largest mental health study conducted in the U.S. on Mexican Americans. He is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association) and also a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). He holds several World Health Organization (WHO) advisory, board, and consulting positions, and is the Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean of the WHO World Mental Health Surveys (WMH) Consortium. He is also a Steering Committee and Research Scientist member of the National Hispanic Network on Drug Abuse (NHSNDA), a member of the National Latino Healthcare Task Force, and a member of the California Policy Institutes on Health Statewide Advisory Committee. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola’s research includes cross-national comparative epidemiologic research on patterns and correlates of mental disorders and substance abuse in general population samples and the development and testing of culturally sensitive mental health diagnostic instruments. His applied research program has focused on identifying unmet mental health needs and associated risk and protective factors to better understand and meet population mental health needs and reduce mental health disparities in underserved populations. He has worked effectively to bridge research with services delivery and policy development. Lately, he has been also very active translating mental health and substance abuse research results into practical information that is of public health value to consumers and his families, service administrators, policy makers and other constituents with the purpose of informing mental health policy decisions and guiding program development at the local, national, and international level.
Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola received his M.D. degree at the School of Medicine, Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Mexico and his Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology at Vanderbilt University. He also completed postdoctoral studies on health services research at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of many scientific publications, and the recipient of numerous awards such as the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Medal of Congress (“Medalla de la Cámara de Diputados”) of Chile for work related to mental health research, the Provost’s Excellence Award for Distinguished Achievement in Research at California State University, Fresno, the 2002 Outstanding Latino Faculty in Higher Education Award by the American Association for Higher Education, Hispanic Caucus, the 2005 Local Hero of the Year Award in Education sponsored by KVPT Valley Public Televison and the Bank of California, and more recently the U.S. DHHS’ Office of Minority Health’s 2005 National Minority Health Community Leader Award (Hispanic Community), Washington, DC. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola was recently recognized as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United States in the October, 2006 issue of Hispanic Business Magazine and as a distinguished member of the 101 top leaders in the U.S. Latino Community in the Dec.-Jan, 2007 issue of Latino LeadersMagazine.