Elena Luna, MPH, CPH, awarded Gerry C. Gunnin Public Health Memorial Fellowship

Elena Luna

While Elena’s research is sure to shed light on chronic disease prevention in Latinx communities, that’s just the beginning. Taking a community engaged approach, she will develop individual relationships with participants to gain a better understanding of their challenges. Considerable time will also be spent finding out if the solutions proposed by researchers are aligned with participants’ reality. Elena hopes that the “research findings can be used to advocate for the allocation of resources for underserved Latinx communities.”

Elena has a personal connection to her research. “I understand the hardships that come with losing a father and grandmother to preventable diseases. In pursing meaningful research related to chronic disease prevention, I am part of the solution.” Elena also notes the importance of understanding the culture and speaking the language of the population she is conducting research with.

The financial backing from the Gunnin Fellowship enables Elena to compensate study participants for their time—a critical step in establishing equity and buy-in within the community. Elena’s advisor, Dr. Andrew Springer, has been an influential force in Elena’s research. Together they have implemented strategies that are inclusive and effective. Their goal is to support an authentic partnership between researchers and community members. 

“Since arriving at UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin, I have had the great opportunity to observe Elena’s passion and initiative for reducing chronic disease and promoting healthy living in partnership with the Latinx community,” Dr. Springer.

 About the Gunnin Fellowship:

Dr. Gunnin’s passion for the community made him an irreplaceable member of the Texas Health family and his community. The Gunnin Fellowship is a tribute established to honor the late visionary's leadership and to continue a legacy of advancement in community health improvement efforts.The Mission of Texas Health is to improve the health of the people in the communities it serves

Click here too learn more about Texas Health’s Community Improvement efforts.

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