The University of Texas at Austin Latino Research Initiative

Deborah Parra-Medina

Ph.D., University of California, San Diego/San Diego State University

Deborah Parra-Medina



Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina is the inaugural director of the Latino Research Initiative. She holds an appointment as Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Professor Parra-Medina has extensive expertise in developing culturally competent public health, chronic disease, and healthy lifestyle interventions with underserved communities, including women, Latinos, financially disadvantaged, and immigrant populations. She uses a mixed-methods, community-based participatory approach, often designing and implementing interventions that utilize the promotora model and involve multimedia, text messaging, and other technological communications.

Professor Parra-Medina comes to Austin from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR), where she was a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics from 2008 to 2016. From 1998 to 2008, she served on the faculty of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.

In 2016, Professor Parra-Medina was named a Fellow by the American Academy of Health Behavior, a national group of researchers who apply study results to improve public health. She has served as Co-Director of the South Texas Area Health Education Centers Program and as a member of the Cancer Prevention and Population Science research program at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She serves on the editorial board of several scholarly journals and has been recognized for her work in public health and health disparities research by the American Public Health Association, receiving the Mayhew Derryberry Award in 2013.

Professor Parra-Medina received her Ph.D. in public health epidemiology from the University of California, San Diego/San Diego State University joint doctoral program and her master’s in public health in health promotion and education from San Diego State University. She is a native of San Diego.

Research Interests:
Community-based health promotion, underserved communities, participatory research methods, Latino health disparities, and chronic disease prevention.

Current Research: 


MAS 374 • Latina Sexuality And Health

40395 • Spring 2019
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM CMA 5.190
(also listed as WGS 340)

Please check back for updates.

MAS 392 • Latinx Health Disparities

35734 • Spring 2018
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GWB 1.138

This course will introduce students to the concept of health equity and will provide a broad overview of health disparities in the United States with a specific focus on Latinx populations. The course will explore key social determinants of health, including: socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, neighborhood environments, social relationships, and political economy. Mechanisms through which these factors are hypothesized to influence health, such as stress and access to health resources and constraints, will be discussed, as well as the ways in which these mechanisms can operate across the lifecourse. An overarching theme of the course will be how social factors that adversely affect health are inequitably distributed, contributing to marked health disparities. Students will gain a better understanding of research on health disparities and interventions to promote health equity through a combination of readings, lectures, reflection papers, in-class exercises, and research assignments.

Curriculum Vitae

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