The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) has elected Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, professor of internal medicine and founding director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, to its board of directors.
Aguilar-Gaxiola, a renowned expert on health disparities and behavioral health in ethnically diverse populations, has focused much of his career on developing innovative solutions to improve access to culturally and linguistically proficient mental health services in underserved communities. He has advanced those efforts by transforming research knowledge into practical information for policymakers, health care providers and the public.
"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, in a foundation press release. "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."
The foundation noted that during Aguilar-Gaxiola’s distinguished career he 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 U.S., 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.
"We are very pleased to have Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola join the board," added 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. He will join the independent, Oakland-based health care philanthropy at one its regular board meetings later this month.