Dr. Leonel Vela, dean of the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), will be the keynote speaker at the annual International Conference on Health Issues, March 8 at The University of Texas-Pan American.
The one-day conference, which costs $75, will be at the International Trade and Technology Building. The noon luncheon with Vela at the University Ballroom is $20.
The International Conference on Health Issues provides a forum of international exchange of health-related information and research. It also brings together physicians, health educators, nurses and other health care providers for possible future collaboration in health care research, service and education.
Internationally known speakers will present new research related to health issues affecting the world, especially diseases prevalent in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Mexico. Experts in diabetes and cancer highlight the agenda, along with a panel of experts from Mexico and the United States who will discuss health economics.
A San Juan native, Vela has firsthand knowledge of the importance of research on serious and infectious diseases in the area. He directed the local public health response to a nationally publicized Ebola Reston outbreak in Alice and directed comprehensive surveillance and intervention response to a dengue fever outbreak in South Texas.
Vela received a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from Stanford with a concurrent Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He obtained a Doctor of Medicine degree at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and Harvard conferred on him the Master of Public Health degree, where he also was the Kellogg Fellow in Health Policy and Management.
His many accomplishments include completion of a Texas Department of Health preventive medicine/public health residency program and selection as a National Institutes of Mental Health/American Psychological Association Minority Fellow.
Among the conference's other scheduled speakers are Drs. Guillermo Tortolero-Luna and Sharon Brown.
Born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México, Tortolero is an assistant professor of gynecologic oncology and an assistant epidemiologist at the U. T. MD Anderson Cancer Center-Houston. His focus is on developing strategies to meet the cancer health needs of Hispanics and assure appropriateness and accessibility to cancer research, prevention-control programs and health care services.
Brown is associate vice president for research at U. T. Austin, and her research, "A Border Health Initiative for Mexican-Americans with Type 2 Diabetes," is done in collaboration with Dr. Craig L. Hanis of the U. T. Health Science Center-Houston. Much of the research data has been gathered in Starr County, where an estimated 97 percent of the population is Mexican-American.
Following the conference is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute grant-writing workshop coordinated by NIH administrator Joe Bowe, March 9-11.
The three-day workshop will provide colleges, universities and institutions with substantial minority student enrollment the expert training and consultation to negotiate and secure NIH contracts. It also will provide opportunities for partnerships that enhance teaching, research and community development at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and the communities they serve.
The conference and workshop are sponsored by the UTPA College of Health Sciences and Human Services, the U. T. Health Science Center-San Antonio and the NIH National Cancer Institute.
For more information, contact Pat Bortoni at the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at 956/381-2292 or 318-5235.