Current Research and Scholarly Interests
As a general pediatrician with a joint appointment in the Center for Health Policy and Primary Care Outcomes Research, my research focuses on the field of health literacy. Informed by social cognitive theory, I conduct interdisciplinary research to understand child and parent health literacy as potentially modifiable determinants of child health disparities. I am principal investigator on an NICHD-funded, multi-site, randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy of a low-literacy, early-childhood intervention designed to prevent obesity in the first two years of life. I recently completed a community-based, participatory research study to examine the effectiveness of child health promotion delivered across a large network of early child-care centers in underserved communities (www.jumpstartforhealth.org). The aim of my current scholarship is to apply the health-literacy model to attenuate disparities for children with chronic illness and special health care needs.
My work is informed by a public-health perspective and by delivering front-line care in underserved communities. Between 2006 and 2011, I served as Medical Director of Children’s Medical Services South Florida, a Florida state agency that coordinates care for more than 10,000 low-income children with special health care needs. I founded Stanford's Reach Out and Read program, and for ten years served as Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Florida, a pediatric-clinic-based program that provides books and early-literacy promotion to more than 200,000 underserved children. Prior to joining the Stanord faculty, I co-directed the Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity, which fosters a scholarly community committed to addressing global health inequities through community-based participatory research. I have served as an advisor to the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Cancer Society. Fluent in Spanish, I maintain an active general pediatrics practice, serving an socioeconomically disadvantaged population of patients, with a focus on behavioral health, obesity prevention, post-NICU care of premature infants, and the care of complex chronic conditions.