Meet Our Team
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD is Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis Health and the Director of the Community Engagement Program of the UCD Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC). He is past co-chair of the NIH’s Community Engagement Key Function Committee for the NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) for seven years and the immediate past co-chair of the NIH/NCATS CTSA’s Collaboration Engagement Domain Task Force Lead Team for 3 years. He is a past member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2003-2007). He is past Chair of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America (MHA; formerly the National Mental Health Association) and past Chair of the Board of NAMI California. He was recently appointed for a four-year term as a member of the National Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)-Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). He is currently a board member of the California Health Care Foundation, a member of the California Future Health Workforce Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee and co-chair of its Behavioral Health Subcommittee, a member of the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity’s Advisory Committee, a member of the board of Physicians for a Healthy California, and a member of the national board of Peer Health Exchange. He is a member of the following NIH/CTSA External Advisory Boards: UCLA, USC, Scripps, Tufts, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Mayo Clinic and also. He is a national and international expert on health and mental health comorbidities on diverse populations. He has held several World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) advisory board and consulting appointments and is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Survey Consortium (WMH) and its Coordinator for Latin America, overseeing population-based national/regional surveys in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia (national and city of Medellin surveys), México and Peru.
Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola’s research includes cross-national comparative epidemiologic research on patterns and correlates of chronic health conditions, mental and substance abuse disorders in general population samples. 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 achieve equity in health and mental health disparities in underserved populations. He is also very active translating health, mental health and substance abuse research knowledge into practical information that is of public health value to consumers, service administrators, and policy makers. He is currently leading efforts in a five-year, community-initiated and outcome-driven project aimed at improving access and utilization of mental health services in historically underserved populations in Solano County, CA and promote interagency and community collaboration through innovation at the county level. This is a complex project that takes a collaborative and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to develop, implement, and evaluate a process for community engagement in the Filipino American, Latino, and LGBTQ communities and enhance interagency collaboration by implementing a tailored Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services standards (CLAS) training and implementing and evaluating action/quality improvement plans.
Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola is the author of over 180 scientific publications and the lead editor of the book Depression in Latinos: Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention and co-editor of the book (in Spanish) “Mental Health Epidemiology in Latin America and the Caribbean” (“Epidemiología de la Salud Mental en Latinoamérica y el Caribe”) published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). He is the recipient of multiple awards including the 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 DHHS' Office of Minority Health's 2005 National Minority Health Community Leader Award (Hispanic Community), Washington, DC, the 2007 UC Davis Academic Senate Scholarly Distinguished Service Award, the 2008 Latino Mental Health Conference Excellence in Science and Research Award from NYU Univ., the 2009 National Award of Excellence in Blending Research and Practice from the National Hispanic Science Network, the 2012-2013 UC Davis Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in the Academic Senate category, the 2014 National Award of Excellence in Public Service by the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, the 2016 Dean's Award for Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion - Community Engagement, UC Davis School of Medicine and was named a distinguished member of the Top 10 U.S. Latino Physicians in the May, 2016 issue of Latino Leaders Magazine. More recently, he received the 2018 UC Davis Health Dean's Team Award for Inclusion Excellence, along with the Center for Reducing Health Disparities Team for outstanding multidisciplinary team contributions in the area of community engagement, the 2018 NAMI California Multicultural Outreach Excellence Award, the 2018 Mental Health California’s Research and Health Disparities Award, and the 2018 Mental Health California’s Research and Health Disparities Award. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola was a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM/NRC) Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Health Development of Young Children (2007-2009) report and a member of the IOM/NRC Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise (2010) report. He is currently serving as co-chair of the Steering Committee of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement in Health and Health Care, a project of the NAM Leadership Consortium and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Associate Director, Vacant
Dr. Hendry Ton is the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. He serves as the Director of Education at the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities where he authored a training program to teach health care leaders how to make culturally and linguistically appropriate system changes at academic, county, and state health organizations. He is also the founding medical director of the Transcultural Wellness Center of Asian Pacific Community Counseling; a community clinic that specializes in serving the mental health needs of Sacramento’s diverse Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
Dr. Ton received the UC Davis Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in 2005; the 2007 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement for his work with communities, ethnic minorities, and cultural competence; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Exemplary Psychiatrist Award in 2016.
Dr. Ton has presented nationally on the topics of cultural competence, education, and system change and regularly receives teaching, leadership, and community awards for his work with health care professionals and underserved communities. His areas of interests include diversity and inclusion, professionalism, cultural psychiatry, humanistic psychology, medical student education, and faculty development.
As an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of California, Davis she serves as Associate Director of Education for the Center for Reducing Healthcare Disparities as well as multiple teaching roles in the School of Medicine and Psychiatry Residency Training Program including Director of Diversity Education, Office of Faculty Development & Diversity leading curriculum to improve faculty supporting inclusion for diverse students as well as training on faculty search committee training diversity and inclusion efforts in workforce recruitment.
Clinically she has worked with UC Davis Psychiatry to open a 16-bed acute Psychiatric Health Facility as Assistant Medical Director and then moved on to work with underserved populations through the County Mental Health Clinics in Sacramento. She has worked in both private practice sector providing psychotherapy as well as with underserved at the Asian Pacific Community Counseling Center also known as the Transcultural Wellness Center where she was awarded Doctor of the Year 2014. She was an active Team Member for 2017 Dean’s Team Award for Inclusion & Excellence for work on CLAS implementation and community engagement longitudinal collaboration projects at the Center for Reducing Healthcare Disparities and she was the faculty Inductee to the Gold Humanism Honors Society 2018 for University California School of Medicine. She continues her efforts in educating students, residents, faculty, community members, and providers both clinically and non-clinically including collaborating with National Alliance on Mental Illness to co-create and teach the Cultural Competence Webinar Training Series as part of her work at the Center for Reducing Healthcare Disparities.
Andrea joined the Center for Reducing Health Disparities in 2017. She currently serves as the Chief Administrative Officer providing leadership for the center, strategic planning, fiscal management, compliance, contract and grant administration and managing the center daily operations. She began her career at UC Davis in 2006. Her previous experience includes field research, clinical trials and research management. She received her BS in Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior from UC Davis. She has a passion for working towards improving the health and well-being of all human beings and for our future generations.
Karla Ornelas Hernandez is Project Coordinator for the ACTIVATE Project in the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities. She obtained her Bachelor’s in Science Degree in Psychology with a Biology Emphasis from University of California Davis in 2020.
Karla has extensive experience in simultaneous, consecutive, and sight medical interpretation and translation. She obtained her Certificate in Medical Interpretation Terminology Studies accredited by the California School of Interpretation and Translation.
As an undergraduate, Karla served as an Intern, Health Educator, and Board member for Clínica Tepati, a student run clinic that serves the uninsured and underserved Latino population in Sacramento. Her experience consisted of collaborating with UC Davis medical students and Physicians in providing primary health care services to the Latino community.
As a first-generation college graduate coming from a family of migrant farm workers and having experienced healthcare disparities first-hand, Karla developed a passion for advocating and serving Latino farm working communities. Karla aspires to continue advocating for the Latino community in healthcare as a medical professional.
Jeffrey Duong is a Research Data Analyst for the Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Evaluation Coordinator for the ACTIVATE and LPMPP projects. He provides organizational support and administrative assistance to the Evaluation Teams for both projects. He is highly involved in the design and establishment of research instruments and evaluation tools, in addition to the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of program data and findings. He also prepares reports pertaining to quantitative and qualitative evaluations. Prior to working on the ACTIVATE and LPMPP Projects, Jeffrey was the evaluation coordinator for the Solano Innovations Project.
Jeffrey received his PhD in Public Health in 2014 from the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins University, where he was a Sommer Scholar and Albert Schweitzer Fellow. His training spans multiple disciplines, from psychiatric epidemiology, maternal and child health, to health education and communication. Jeffrey’s areas of expertise include childhood social-emotional development and youth bullying prevention, and he has published or presented widely on these topics. In addition, Jeffrey has extensive research experience on disparities in mental health services access and utilization, as well as psychiatric outcomes, which he focused on previously while at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. Jeffrey was an American Public Health Association Kenneth Lutterman Award Recipient, American College of Physicians Poster Competition Winner, American Psychiatric Association Medical Student Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Dean’s Teaching Fellow, and National Health Service Corps Scholar. He and his work have been covered by Reuters, SELF Magazine, and MD Magazine. Jeffrey is bilingual in Mandarin Chinese. He is a self-professed “data nerd” and enjoys drawing from a comprehensive range of statistical techniques and applying them to large complex projects. He is otherwise currently working very hard on being the best dog-father he can be to Timothy, his Yorkie.
Darlene Ruiz is Project Coordinator for the LPMPP Evaluation Project within the University of California at Davis’ Center for Reducing Health Disparities. She obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, with a minor in Chicano Studies from the University of California, Davis in 2013.
Darlene is passionate about addressing health disparities, focused on everyone having equitable access to well-being. Darlene is a first-generation college graduate that grew up in the small towns surrounding Patterson, CA. She witnessed first-hand the impact of not having proper access to healthcare services, particularly in rural areas such as the Central Valley. During her time as a student at UC Davis, she studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico where she conducted community outreach via Public Health Brigades. In that role, she participated in clinical rotations at the Centro de Rehabilitación Infantil Teletón (CRIT) and rural community clinics, as well as the local Hospital Civil. She was also involved in the Niños Sanos, Familia Sana (Healthy Children, Healthy Family) intervention study to decrease the rate of BMI growth in Mexican origin children in California's Central Valley. Additionally, she served as an intern at the Cardio-Thoracic Unit at the UC Davis Medical Center and was a part of several student clubs and organizations such as the Public Health Club and Hermanas Unidas.
Her work experience spans several sectors including Pharmacy, Agriculture, Administration, Community Education and Engagement, Environmental and Natural Resource Conservation, and Customer Service.
Melisa Price is the Community Engaged Research Specialist for the Clinical and Translational Science Center at UC Davis. Melisa brings several years of experience in the delivery, coordination and evaluation of social and public health services for marginalized populations. She also has considerable experience in public health program evaluation, research methods, program planning, and needs assessment. Most recently, Melisa has spent the last seven years as a Research Analyst at UCSF’s Phillip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies where she collected, analyzed and reported on evaluation data for projects including Adolescent Sexual Health Programs funded by California’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Programs and UCSF’s community engaged Preterm Birth Initiative. In addition to her research duties she conducted trainings and technical assistance sessions with health educators to support implementation and delivery of health education interventions with fidelity, monitored fidelity data, conducted data analysis and developed action plans based on the data that community partners were reporting.
Melisa has a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of California at Berkeley and has training and experience in the use of participatory, community-based frameworks to assess, design, implement and evaluate programs that create behavioral and social change. At UC Davis, Melisa’s duties include developing and managing a system for working with racially/ethnically, culturally and geographically diverse constituents to identify collaborative research opportunities and supporting the development and delivery of community-engaged research training for UCD researchers, health staff and community members.