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Margarita De L Teran-Garcia

Assistant Dean for Integrated Health Disparities Programs, University of Illinois

Integrated Health Disparities

Dr. Teran got her Medical Degree and Pediatric specialty in Mexico. In 2001, she obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, studying nutrient-gene interactions. During her postdoctoral training, she acquired expertise in genetic epidemiology, investigating the role of individual genotype in cardiovascular and metabolic responses to exercise.  

Dr. Teran participates and leads several multi-disciplinary projects that are collecting data relevant to children and families on weight status and weight-related health outcomes. Her main project: “Improving the health of Hispanic children and their families with a community-based Curriculum: Abriendo Caminos” is funded by multi-state support from a competitive award of the AFRI/NIFA USDA initiative. Abriendo Caminos is a 6-week community and family-based, culturally-competent intervention to prevent childhood obesity. The program targets whole families to encourage healthy eating by incorporating elements of traditional Hispanic dietary patterns, family mealtimes, and physical activity. The Abriendo Caminos curriculum has evidence of positive outcomes in health-related behaviors, including diet quality in mothers and children. This family-based intervention model offers a new tool to health care providers to meet the needs of socially disadvantaged groups, including ethnically diverse children and families. 

Overall, her applied transdisciplinary team-based projects are translating to the community evidence-based interventions of gene-environment interactions (i.e., dietary and exercise patterns), and psychosocial processes (i.e., food insecurity, stress) relevant to improving weight management, obesity, and obesity-related diseases. Dr. Teran’s goal is to contribute to the development of culturally-competent effective interventions directed at preventing chronic diseases and promoting health with an impact on well-being and health equity.