Person of the Week: Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla of the Yale School of Public Health

Our Public Health Person of the Week series is designed to inspire & encourage students to pursue a career in the myriad sectors within global public health. Public health is far reaching and incredibly expansive, providing the platform in which to improve the lives of local & national communities worldwide. As Dr. Seuss said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose…” – ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’-

Person of the Week for November 5, 2012

Rafael Perez-Escamilla, PhD, is Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Office of Community Health at the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Perez-Escamilla’s work focuses on global public health nutrition. Specifically, his research programs study how to promote breastfeeding in the best way and the most accurate ways to measure household food insecurity. He conducts extensive research on how to mitigate the negative impacts of food insecurity on maternal-child health, and the impact of HIV in mothers on child development and growth. He also teaches courses in community nutrition, nutritional epidemiology and nutrition during humanitarian disasters.


Dr. Perez-Escamilla leads a health disparities research program in the US that focuses on how to design and evaluate community health worker models. The purpose of them is to improve behavioral and metabolic outcomes in Latinos who have type 2 diabetes.

He is the leader of the Latin America and Caribbean Household Food Security Scale project, Also, the doctor has published more than 100 research articles that have led to many improvements in breastfeeding promotion, iron deficiency anemia in infants, measurement of household food security, and community nutrition education programs around the globe.

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Dr. Perez-Escamilla was a trustee for the Pan American Health and Education Foundation, and also was appointed by the US Department of Agriculture to work on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee.

Also, he is the Principal Investigator and Director of the Connecticut Center of Excellence for Eliminating Health Disparities Among Latinos, and a Professor of Nutrition and Public Health at the University of Connecticut.

His work has been continuously supported with $15 million funding from NIH, USDA, CDC, and others.

He is the chair elect of the American Society for Nutrition’s International Nutrition Council, and also is the vice-chair for its Minority Affairs Committee.


Dr. Perez-Escamilla earned Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and his Master of Science and Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis.

What He Has Been Up To

Dr. Perez-Escamilla has recently led four interdisciplinary capacity building projects in Connecticut, Ghana and Brazil. These projects involve Latino community nutrition, Latino health disparities, HIV transmission and national household food security measurement. All of these projects have extensive research, teaching, training, extension and outreach components.

Where He Has Been Quoted

“There is substantial evidence to support a possible link between breastfeeding and the psychosocial development of children. Breastfeeding has consistently been associated with improved cognitive scores and is likely to be able to prevent the onset of childhood/adolescent obesity, a condition that can seriously harm the child’s self-esteem and overall psychosocial development.”

– White Paper – Influence of Breastfeeding on Psychological Development, published in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development

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Tweet Alert

The focus of much of Dr. Perez-Escamilla’s work is on the importance of breastfeeding to give children around the world a good start in life. While he’s not on Twitter, here are some recent tweets on the importance of breastfeeding:



To Learn More

To find out more about Dr. Perez-Escamilla, please visit the Yale School of Public Health website. Thank you for your dedicated work in public health, Dr. Perez-Escamilla!

Do you know someone in the global health community worthy of being nominated for our Person of the Week Series? Contact us now.

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