Dr. Amelie Ramirez: Helping Latino Cancer Survivors Share Their Journeys


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Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, recently shared the need to help Latino cancer survivors on “Science & Medicine,” an audio collaboration of Texas Public Radio and UT Health San Antonio.

Bonnie Petrie, TPR‘s bioscience and medicine reporter, hosted the segment.

sicnece and medicine TPR Amelie Ramirez UT Health San AntonioRamirez spoke to Petrie about her project to improve care and life for Latino cancer, called “Avanzando Caminos (Leading Pathways): The Hispanic/Latino Cancer Survivorship Study.”

“Our big goal is to really have more equitable care for everyone, not only in South Texas, but nationwide, and that their outcomes for survival are also improved,” Ramirez said during the segment.

Listen to the full audio here.

About the Avanzando Caminos Research Project

Avanzando Caminos is a national cohort study on the Latino cancer journey.

The study aims to unpack the social, cultural, behavioral, psychosocial, biological, and medical influences on post-cancer life in Latino cancer survivors. This will fill a crucial gap in knowledge about their survivorship experience.

The study is funded by a 6-year, $9.8-million grant from the National Cancer Institute. It teams up two of its Cancer Centers, the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.

Avanzando Caminos will recruit a diverse cohort of 3,000 Latino breast, colorectal, kidney, lung, prostate, stomach, or cervical cancer survivors in Miami and San Antonio.

Amber Lopez is an Avanzando Caminos participant who has found hope in her cancer journey.

Likewise, see how Angelina Vazquez Felsing was diagnosed with cancer, but persevered and is sharing her story through Avanzando Caminos.

To inquiry about participating in the study, contact Dr. Ramirez’s research team at 210-562-6500 or caminos@uthscsa.edu.

For more information, go here in English or Spanish.

“Our study will tell us important information we can use to help future Latino cancer survivors heal, recover, and reduce the chances of cancer coming back,” Dr. Ramirez said.

Join Avanzando caminos!

Dr. Ramirez & Her Latino Cancer and Education Research

Ramirez is an internationally recognized health disparities researcher at UT Health San Antonio.

Here, she is professor and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. She also is associate director of cancer outreach and engagement at the Mays Cancer Center.

Ramirez conducts research to reduce Latino cancer disparities.

She aims to reduce lung cancer with Quitxt. This bilingual text-message service helps Latino young adults quit smoking, funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

On breast cancer, Ramirez is a Susan G. Komen Scholar. Her work has helped increase Latino cancer screening rates and early detection. She has proven how bicultural patient navigation can help Latina patients get more timely diagnosis and treatment after an abnormal mammogram and improve the survivorship journey.

Ramirez also recently launched the “Avanzando Equidad de Salud: Latino Cancer Health Equity Research Center.”

The center, supported by a 4-year, $4.08-million grant from the American Cancer Society, is a response to cancer inequities facing Latinos in South Texas. The center will unite South Texas research scholars and the community to reduce health disparities across the cancer care continuum by targeting social determinants of health that prevent Latinos from obtaining equitable care.

Another of her efforts is to improve Latino participation in clinical trials.

Ramirez is enabling Latinos to volunteer for cancer and Alzheimer’s clinical trials. She is highlighting open clinical trials, conducting webinars, and sharing stories of real Latino clinical trial participants. This work is supported by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

Ramirez also has trained/mentored more than 250 Latinos in health fields.

She leads the National Cancer Institute-funded Éxito! training program. This helps master’s-level students and professionals pursue a doctoral degree and cancer research career. Of 226 Éxito! trainees since 2011, over 27% have enrolled in or graduated from a doctoral program.

“We work hard to enable Latinos take the next steps from a master’s degree to get their doctoral degree and focus on careers in Latino cancer research and prevention,” Ramirez said.

Dr. Ramirez & Her Service, Recognition

Ramirez is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

She also is a Susan G. Komen Scholar, is on the prize jury for the Fries Prize for Improving Health Award and the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award, and is a past member of the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

In Texas, she is on the San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council and is Past Board President of the The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).

amelie ramirez health equity in 2014
Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez

Additional recognition includes:

Ramirez also created the Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos biennial conference series.

Launched in 2018 and continued in 2020, 2022, and 2024, the conference welcomes international researchers, physicians, community leaders, patient advocates, and more to tackle Latino cancer from prevention to treatment to survivorship.

Advancing the Science of Cancer in Latinos is a sanctuary where we can share research, experience, and action to translate basic research into clinical best practices, effective community interventions, and professional training programs to eliminate cancer disparities in Latinos,” Ramirez said.

In 2022, TV personality Oprah Winfrey selected Ramirez as a “Cycle Breaker” for her groundbreaking work to build health equity in the Latino community. Watch the episode featuring Ramirez!

Ramirez earned M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. degrees from UT Health Science Center at the Houston School of Public Health.

She is a native of Laredo, Texas.

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