Meet a member of the Salud America! Executive Workgroup
As an undergraduate student at the University of Miami in the 1990s, Dr. Frank J. Penedo wasn't sure what health field he wanted to pursue.
Enter Dr. Susan Lutgendorf.
Dr. Lutgendorf, then a graduate student in clinical health psychology, introduced him to the study of the mind-body connection and how psychosocial processes, such as stress and coping, can affect the endocrine and immune systems on one hand and disease processes on the other.
"As a pre-med student, I became passionate about studying the connection between mental and physical health," said Dr. Penedo, thanks to Dr. Lutgendorf's mentorship. "Because this is an interdisciplinary field, I have been able to blend my interests in psychology, medicine, culture and health disparities to better understand many different determinants of health and disease. I became very involved in research early on and sought graduate student and faculty mentors in my field."
Today, Dr. Penedo is working to improve Latino health as an associate professor of clinical health psychology and cancer biology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.
His research focuses on chronic disease management, psychosocial interventions in chronic disease populations, behavioral medicine and other topics in cancer, health disparities, and other areas.
On the Salud America! Executive Workgroup, Dr. Penedo brings expertise in developing methods to promote nutrition and physical activity and prevent obesity and related chronic diseases that are linguistically and culturally appropriate to the Latino community.
"Any approach must be interdisciplinary and occur at multiple levels—communities, schools and families—if we are to curtail the growing rates of obesity among Latino children," said Dr. Penedo.
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