Dr. Larissa Avilés-Santa

Dr. Larissa Avilés-Santa, Director, Clinical and Health Services Research at National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

Dr. Larissa Avilés-Santa is the director of the Division of Clinical and Health Services Research at National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health. In her current role, she works with her team on fostering research aimed at improving health outcomes of health disparities populations. This may be accomplished through research designed to understand most effective preventive and clinical care practices within healthcare settings, while also informing population health, health policy and public policy experts. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the PRCCI.

Prior to joining NIMHD, she worked at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as the project director for the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos since it began on October 1, 2006. In addition, Dr. Avilés-Santa has participated in multiple NIH-wide committees and working groups addressing minority health, diabetes mellitus and its complications, women’s health, and vascular dementia. In 2015, she founded the NIH Hispanic Health Research Scientific Interest Group. In 2017, Dr. Avilés-Santa was the field coordinator of the post-disaster recovery of the health and social services of the entire country of Puerto Rico during the first six and a half months of work coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, impacting 3.4 million human lives.

Dr. Avilés-Santa earned her medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University Hospital in San Juan and a fellowship in endocrinology at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center. As a faculty member of the Endocrine Division at UT Southwestern she worked in clinical research, teaching, and direct patient care. She also earned a Master’s degree at the UT School of Public Health.