Seminar explores mental health equity in ethnic populations

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola.

Published September 21, 2022

“We invited Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola to learn more about his groundbreaking initiatives to address structural health inequities in clinical and translational research."
Jessica L. Reynolds.

Advancing health equity by highlighting the experiences and mental health needs in Latino/a, Filipino American, and LGBTQ+ communities is a focus of the next University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Distinguished Speaker Seminar on October 12. The seminar will feature Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD, Founding Director and Director, Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD); Director, Community Engagement Program, Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTSC); and Professor, Division of Clinical Internal Medicine, UC Davis, a world-renowned expert on mental health in ethnic populations.

Aguilar-Gaxiola will present “Advancing Health/Mental Health Equity With Underserved Populations Through Community-Engaged Approaches” online via Zoom from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12. Register here to watch the Zoom live.

Aguilar-Gaxiola’s seminar will explore the Solano County Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Cultural Transformation Model (ICCTM). The project’s goal was to increase access to care and utilization of services of three underserved communities in California’s Solano County — Latino/a, Filipino American, and LGBTQ+. In addition, the project aimed to establish an interdisciplinary team approach that incorporated their voices as community-defined strategies/solutions to advancing health equity.

This collaborative used an intervention based on the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) combined with community engagement to increase the county’s capacity to address unmet mental health service needs.

As Aguilar-Gaxiola will explain, the project resulted in numerous positive outcomes. These include an increased number of access line callers, the improvement of culturally responsive services from baseline, and findings indicating that consumers were less likely to enter care through crisis services. Today, the ICCTM model is being scaled up to nearly 50 counties in California through a learning collaborative.

“We invited Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola to learn more about his groundbreaking initiatives to address structural health inequities in clinical and translational research,” says Jessica L. Reynolds, PhD, co-investigator of the CTSI K Scholar Program and Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. 

Reynolds first came across Aguilar-Gaxiola via a UC Davis story highlighting a perspective piece he co-authored in the New England Journal of Medicine. The piece called upon the clinical and translational research community to address structural health inequities by placing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the center of their work, and also proposed a framework for advancing DEI in clinical and translational research. “DEI is essential for extending the scope and creativity of research that seeks to solve complex problems and reduce inequities in health,” Aguilar-Gaxiola told UC Davis in the January 2022 story.

CTSI Director Timothy F. Murphy, MD, calls Aguilar-Gaxiola a “pioneer and widely recognized leader” in health equity and community engagement.

“Much of academic research on health disparities has focused on identifying and characterizing health disparities and little on solving the problems,” Murphy explains. “Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola has eloquently argued that the solutions to these inequities will require a paradigm shift in how the clinical and translational research enterprise approaches the issue. Diversity, equity, and inclusion must be the center of our priorities and our work.”

Among Aguilar-Gaxiola's honors are the National Award of Excellence in Research by a Senior Investigator; National Hispanic Science Network and the Lifetime Award for the Advancement of Latino Behavioral Health; National Latino Behavioral Health Association (NLBHA), both in 2021. In addition, the ICCTM project received second place in the 2022 “Innovations that Bolster Community Trust in Science Award” from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The CTSI Distinguished Speaker Seminar Series is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number UL1TR001412 to the University at Buffalo.

For questions about the series, contact or (716) 829-4718.