Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Internal Medicine
Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD)

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis Health and the Director of the Community Engagement Program of the UC Davis Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC).  He is past co-chair of the NIH’s Community Engagement Key Function Committee for the NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) for seven years and the immediate past co-chair of the NIH/NCATS CTSA’s Collaboration Engagement Domain Task Force Lead Team for 3 years. He is a past member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2003-2007). He is past Chair of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America (MHA; formerly the National Mental Health Association) and past Chair of the Board of NAMI California.  He was recently appointed for a four-year term as a member of the National Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)-Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). He is currently a board member of the California Health Care Foundation, a member of the California Future Health Workforce Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee and co-chair of its Behavioral Health Subcommittee, a member of the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity’s Advisory Committee, a member of the board of Physicians for a Healthy California, and a member of the national board of Peer Health Exchange. He is a member of the following NIH/CTSA External Advisory Boards: UCLA, USC, Scripps, Tufts, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Mayo Clinic. He is a national and international expert on health and mental health comorbidities on diverse populations.  He has held several World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) advisory board and consulting appointments and is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Survey Consortium (WMH) and its Coordinator for Latin America, overseeing population-based national/regional surveys in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia (national and city of Medellin surveys), México and Peru.

Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola’s research includes cross-national comparative epidemiologic research on patterns and correlates of chronic health conditions, mental and substance abuse disorders in general population samples. His applied research program has focused on identifying unmet mental health needs and associated risk and protective factors to better understand and meet population mental health needs and achieve equity in health and mental health disparities in underserved populations. He is also very active translating health, mental health and substance abuse research knowledge into practical information that is of public health value to consumers, service administrators, and policy makers.  He is currently leading efforts in a five-year, community-initiated and outcome-driven project aimed at improving access and utilization of mental health services in historically underserved populations in Solano County, CA and promote interagency and community collaboration through innovation at the county level. This is a complex project that takes a collaborative and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to develop, implement, and evaluate a process for community engagement in the Filipino American, Latino, and LGBTQ communities and enhance interagency collaboration by implementing a tailored Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services standards (CLAS) training and implementing and evaluating action/quality improvement plans.

Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola is the author of over 180 scientific publications and the lead editor of the book Depression in Latinos: Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention and co-editor of the book (in Spanish) “Mental Health Epidemiology in Latin America and the Caribbean” (“Epidemiología de la Salud Mental en Latinoamérica y el Caribe”) published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  He is the recipient of multiple awards including the Vanderbilt University Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Medal of Congress (“Medalla de la Cámara de Diputados”) of Chile for work related to mental health research, the DHHS' Office of Minority Health's 2005 National Minority Health Community Leader Award (Hispanic Community), Washington, DC, the 2007 UC Davis Academic Senate Scholarly Distinguished Service Award, the 2008 Latino Mental Health Conference Excellence in Science and Research Award from NYU Univ., the 2009 National Award of Excellence in Blending Research and Practice from the National Hispanic Science Network, the 2012-2013 UC Davis Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in the Academic Senate category, the 2014 National Award of Excellence in Public Service by the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, the 2016 Dean's Award for Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion - Community Engagement, UC Davis School of Medicine and was named a distinguished member of the Top 10 U.S. Latino Physicians in the May, 2016 issue of Latino Leaders Magazine. More recently, he received the 2018 UC Davis Health Dean's Team Award for Inclusion Excellence, along with the Center for Reducing Health Disparities Team for outstanding multidisciplinary team contributions in the area of community engagement, the 2018 NAMI California Multicultural Outreach Excellence Award, the 2018 Mental Health California’s Research and Health Disparities Award, and the 2018 Mental Health California’s Research and Health Disparities Award. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola was a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM/NRC) Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Health Development of Young Children (2007-2009) report and a member of the IOM/NRC Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise (2010) report. He is currently serving as co-chair of the Steering Committee of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement in Health and Health Care, a project of the NAM Leadership Consortium and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.