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Our Team

Robert Ferrer, MD, MPH - Community Engagement Director is the Dr. John M. Smith, Jr. Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. Dr. Ferrer is a practicing family physician with research interests at the interface of primary care and public health. He directs the Community Engagement Team for the IIMS and the School of Medicine’s MD/MPH dual degree program. Dr. Ferrer is on the Board Chair of The Health Collaborative. He is also active in several community health initiatives, including the Mayor’s Fitness Council and partnerships with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.  E-mail: FERRERR@UTHSCSA.EDU

Polly Noel, PhD - Director of the Center for Practice-Based Research Networks is also an Associate Professor/Research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Noel is a clinical health psychologist with over 20 years of experience as a health services researcher. Her research has focused primarily on evaluating and improving quality of chronic illness care, especially for individuals with chronic conditions that are under-recognized or sub-optimally managed in the primary care setting. Dr. Noël is the Co-Director of the Senior Helath Alliance for Research (SHARe) a PBRN with a geriatric health focus. E-mail: NOELP@UTHSCSA.EDU

Elisabeth De la Rosa, MS - Community Engagement Manager serves as the point of contact for the IIMS Community Engagement Team.  She works with the the leaders to develop and implement programs that facilitate the continuation and formation of community and academic research partnerships.  For almost 15 years, she has coordinated different projects and research studies within the UT System.  She has been a part of the IIMS Community Engagement Team since 2009 and has worked alongside various partners to help develop, implement, and evaluate various projects that address community health concerns including diabetes, environmental health, teen pregnancy, and suicide. Ms. De la Rosa received a Masters of Science from UTSA in 2006.  She believes that it is important to work shoulder-to- shoulder with community members on projects that address health concerns that matter to them. E-mail: DELAROSAE@UTHSCSA.EDU

Dr. Kathleen Stevens

Kathleen Stevens, RN, BS, MS, EdD, ANEF, FAAN - Community Engagement Co-Investigator is the Director of the Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN) which aims to advance the scientific foundation for quality improvement, safety and efficiency through transdisciplinary research in healthcare systems, patient-centeredness, and integration of evidence into practice.  Dr. Stevens was the founding director of ACE-Center for Advancing Clinical Excellence 2000-2015, leading interprofessional efforts to advance evidence-based quality improvement and patient safety. Her federally funded activities emphasize healthcare transformation through scholarly work on the national Improvement Science Research Network, AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange, Institute of Medicine’s report Preventing Medication Errors, and team performance improvement. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the Academy of Nurse Educators and is the UT System Chancellor’s Health Fellow for healthcare delivery science.  E-mail: STEVENSK@UTHSCSA.EDU

Melissa Valerio, PhD - Community Engagement Co-Investigator is the Regional Dean of the UTHealth School of Public Health in San Antonio. Dr. Valerio and her team provide research and technical assistance to the Translational Advisory Boards (TABs) and other community-based organizations to help them respond to prioritized health concerns. Dr. Valerio's research interests include using community-based research approaches for chronic disease management and prevention, the design and evaluation of effective health education messages and materials, and survey methods. She is particularly interested in health literacy and cultural competence issues related to health education and communication in minority underserved communities. E-mail: MELISSA.A.VALERIO@UTH.TMC.EDU

Paula Winkler, MEd - Community Engagement Co-Investigator is the Director of the Translational Advisory Boards (TABs). She works to establish partnerships between UT Health San Antonio researchers and the community, so that they may develop projects to address community-identified health concerns. Ms. Winkler is also the Director of the South Central Area Health Education Center, which serves a twelve county catchment area to foster practice improvement initiatives and to increase opportunity for translational research to community members. She has over 30 years of experience developing linkages between academic programs to community based health promotion/disease prevention initiatives. E-mail: WINKLERP@UTHSCSA.EDU