Newswise — HOUSTON – (March. 3, 2016) – Melissa Valerio, Ph.D., regional dean of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health San Antonio Regional Campus, has been named a 2016 Chancellor’s Fellow for The University of Texas System Office of Health Affairs.

Valerio was chosen to develop a Hispanic health strategy for the UT System, which will be incorporated into the UT System Population Health Strategic Plan.

“This opportunity will allow me to work with UT System’s Office of Health Affairs to develop a strategic plan that will focus on the health needs of Hispanics. This plan will highlight and recognize efforts by colleagues across the UT System who are leaders in disease prevention, delivery of care, identification, development of tailored medicine and management of illness,” said Valerio, an associate professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

The UT System Office of Health Affairs established the Chancellor’s Health Fellowship program in 2004 to recognize high-impact innovative work at individual health institutions that are aligned with the overarching mission of the UT System and have potential for broad societal impact on health care, education and research. The work of previous Chancellor’s Health Fellows has focused on patient care quality, public health and health care ethics, among other topics.

“I am excited to be able to work directly with Dr. Melissa Valerio as we develop a population health strategic plan for the University of Texas System,” said David Lakey, M.D., associate vice chancellor for population health at UT System. “As the regional dean of the UTHealth School of Public Health San Antonio Regional Campus, Melissa brings a deep understanding of the health challenges Texans face, especially in South Texas and in the Hispanic communities statewide. She also understands how to address these challenges and make real differences in people’s lives by developing and implementing thoughtful health improvement strategies.”

Valerio will participate in quarterly UT Collaboration on Population Health Innovation and Improvement meetings, as well as collaborate and meet with individual leaders at health institutions to identify priorities, needs and current resources as they relate to Hispanic health.

Among Valerio’s research interests are the development and evaluation of chronic disease self-management and health literacy intervention strategies.

Valerio received her master’s degree in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and her Ph.D. in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to UTHealth, Valerio spent five years on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and served as associate director at the Center for Managing Chronic Disease.