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Brisa N. Sánchez

1 September 2020 No Comment

Affiliation: Dornsife Professor of Biostatistics at Drexel University

Educational Background: PhD, Biostatistics, Harvard University; MS, Statistics, and BS, Mathematics, The University of Texas at El Paso.

Brisa N. Sánchez is recognized for her research in environmental statistics, which initially focused on latent variable methods to assess health effects of chemical exposures. Most recently, she leads statistical methods research to examine the impact of the built environment on health and co-leads empirical research to examine how nutrition policies for school influence child obesity disparities, research streams funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Sánchez has made vital collaborative contributions in a variety of fields. In addition to her longstanding collaborations in environmental health and childhood obesity, she has developed extensive expertise in research involving health disparities and cardiovascular disease, including stroke. She is a highly valued member of all the teams she collaborates on, as she is always ready to immerse herself in the scientific field as a way to more effectively collaborate and thereby marry statistical rigor with practical considerations of the research questions at hand.

Sánchez has a long history of service to professional organizations, holding elected positions for the Eastern North American Region of the International Biometrics Society, the Applied Public Health Statistics Section of the American Public Health Association, and the Caucus for Women in Statistics.

Born and raised in a small town along the US-Mexico border, three fortunate events directed Sánchez to a PhD in biostatistics and a career in research: attending the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Summer Institute; participating in the 1999 conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science; and being awarded a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship. The first two events helped her answer a burning question: How can mathematics be used to advance the health of individuals and populations? The third provided critical financial resources and professional development activities needed to complete a PhD. These and other important career events were instigated and/or supported by a handful of mentors and institutions. She believes a key component of acting on her gratitude for the mentorship she received is to “pay it forward.”

In 2012, Sánchez was named John G. Searle Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in recognition of her early research accomplishments and, subsequently, promoted to full professor. In January of 2019, she was named a Dornsife Professor of Biostatistics in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, where she leads the Biostatistics for Social Impact Collaboratory.

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