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Elena Martinez, MPH, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, having joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2012. She holds the Sam M. Walton Endowed Chair for Cancer Research and Co-leads the Reducing Cancer Disparities Program at the Moores Cancer Center. Dr. Martinez was recently appointed to Associate Director of the Population Sciences Division at the Moores Cancer Center.
Dr. Martinez’s research interests in colorectal cancer prevention began during the conduct of her doctoral dissertation and extended into her post-doctoral studies at the Harvard School of Public Health. To further her research in this area, she joined the University of Arizona faculty in 1996. Prior to leaving the University of Arizona in 2011, she was Professor of Epidemiology in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and was the Richard H. Hollen Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Arizona Cancer Center. She had a very active research portfolio at the University of Arizona, including RO1 funding and program leadership in a Program Project (PO1) and a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) program. She has published extensively in areas of cancer epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, cancer prevention, and cancer disparities. Her research currently focuses on breast cancer in Hispanic women, with a prominent leadership role in the Ella Binational Breast Cancer Study, which began at the University of Arizona as one of the lead sites. In addition, she is a key member of the original investigative team that implemented a large Gates Foundation-funded consortium in six countries in Latin America focusing on Helicobacter pylori eradication and gastric cancer prevention. She is currently lead PI of the NCI funded SDSU/UCSD Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership, which addresses cancer disparities in Hispanic populations in San Diego and Imperial Counties in California.
Nationally, she has established herself as a prominent leader in the area of cancer disparities, having served as chair of the American Association for Cancer Research Minorities in Cancer Research Council. Dr. Martinez was a recipient of the 2013 Women Who Mean Business Award from the San Diego Business Journal. Dr. Martinez has served on the NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors and currently she serves on the NCI’s Board of Scientific Advisors. In 2016, Dr. Martinez was invited to be part of the prestigious Blue Ribbon Panel of experts that informed the scientific direction and goals of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.