The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) today announced the election of Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD, to its board of directors. Aguilar-Gaxiola, a professor of clinical internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, and a renowned expert on health disparities and behavioral health in ethnically diverse populations, will join the independent Oakland-based health care philanthropy at its March board meeting.
Aguilar-Gaxiola is the founder of and directs the UC Davis Health System's Center for Reducing Health Disparities, where he develops innovative solutions to improve access to culturally and linguistically proficient mental health services in underserved communities and focuses on translating research knowledge into practical information for policymakers, health care providers, and the public.
During his distinguished career, Aguilar-Gaxiola has conducted influential research into mental disorders and substance abuse, unmet mental health needs, risk and protective factors, and health and mental health disparities in underserved populations. As on-site principal investigator of one of the largest mental health studies conducted in the United States on Mexican Americans, he identified the most prevalent mental health disorders in the Mexican-origin population in California’s Central Valley, showed that the rate of disorders increases the longer the individual resides in the US, and demonstrated that children of immigrants have even greater rates of mental disorders. From this study, he developed a model of service delivery that increased access to mental health services among the Central Valley's low-income, underserved, rural populations.
"Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola will add depth and relevant experience to our board as CHCF works on new behavioral health initiatives," said CHCF Board Chair Micheline Chau. "His insights and appreciation for the challenges, especially as they relate to those with unmet mental health needs, will help ensure that CHCF applies resources to learn the best ways to deliver high-quality health care to all Californians."
"I'm delighted to become a member of this board," said Aguilar-Gaxiola. "CHCF has distinguished itself in developing effective solutions to improving the health and well being of all Californians, especially those groups with unmet health needs. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve on a board comprised of remarkable leaders who jointly seek ways in which behavioral health can be better integrated into primary care, just to name one area of common interest."
"We are very pleased to have Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola join the board," said CHCF President and CEO Dr. Sandra Hernández. "His extensive applied research and grasp of the challenges of behavioral health disparities, together with his steadfast commitment to improving care to the most vulnerable, make him a great addition to CHCF."
Aguilar-Gaxiola has won numerous awards for his mental health research and served in leadership and advisory positions for US and global health organizations, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the World Health Organization, and the California Department of Public Health. Aguilar-Gaxiola received his MD degree at the School of Medicine, Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Mexico, and then went to Vanderbilt University to earn his MS in psychology and a PhD in clinical-community psychology. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship on health services research at the University of California, San Francisco.