STEER | South Texas Environmental Education and Research

PEOPLE  |  PRESENTERS

Harlingen Course Faculty



Cristina Barroso
  • CRISTINA BARROSO, DrPH
  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
  • E-mail: cristina.s.barroso@uth.tmc.edu
  • Dr. Barroso is an Assistant Professor at UT Brownsville, where she teaches Behavioral Science and she works with the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) and En Vivo programs. Her main research interests include physical activity; nutrition; genetic epidemiology of chronic diseases (gene-environment interactions; design and analysis of school-based health promotion interventions; use of mass media to promote health promotion interventions; and health disparities. Dr. Barroso received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan and her M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. from the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health.




THOMAS DEMAAR
  • THOMAS DEMAAR, DVM
  • VETERINARIAN 
  • E-mail: tdemaar@gpz.org
  • Thomas DeMaar, D.V.M., is the Senior Veterinarian at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, which is considered one of the ten best zoos in the United States. Dr. DeMaar’s experience includes wildlife and zoological medicine, human-animal interfaces, international agriculture development, environmental research, wildlife rehabilitation, mixed animal practice, and conservation education in the US, Mexico, Uganda, Pakistan and Kenya. From 1988 to 1990, Dr. DeMaar was in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico as Technical Director of a Rotary International-sponsored dairy development project. From 1995 to 2003, he created and managed an ecosystem conservation veterinary practice in Kenya. Dr. DeMaar is a graduate of Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts and holds a faculty position there as a clinical assistant professor in the department of environmental and population health. Dr. DeMaar is a firm believer in “One World, One Medicine” medical practice.




STANLEY I. FISCH
  • STANLEY I. FISCH, MD
  • CLINICAL PROFESSOR 
  • E-mail: fisch@uthscsa.edu
  • Stanley I. Fisch, M.D., is a clinical professor in the UTHSCSA Department of Pediatrics and Director for Pediatric Programs at the Regional Academic Health Center. He graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York and completed his residency in pediatrics and social medicine at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, Bronx, New York. From 1973 until 1982, he served on the staff of Su Clinica Familiar, a migrant and community health center serving residents of Cameron and Willacy counties in South Texas. Dr. Fisch is founder, partner, and CEO of Harlingen Pediatrics Associates, a private group practice of six board-certified general pediatricians, two nurse practitioners, and one social worker. He is the founder and presiding officer of the LRGV Child Fatality Review Team, chair of the Texas Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education, and member of the Valley Baptist Health Plans Board of Directors. Recently he has worked with a multidisciplinary group to create the Child to Adult Abuse Response Team (CAART) at Valley Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Fisch serves as the team’s medical director.



    In 2006, Dr. Fisch received the Job Lewis Smith Award for Leadership in Community Pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics.




SUSAN P. FISHER-HOCH
  • SUSAN P. FISHER-HOCH, MSC, MD, MRCPATH
  • PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY
  • E-mail: susan.p.fisher-hoch@uth.tmc.edu
  • Susan P. Fisher-Hoch, M.Sc., M.D., MRCPath, is a professor of biological sciences and epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. She has considerable expertise and extensive experience in infectious disease research, including significant contributions to knowledge regarding infectious agents such as Ebola and Lassa fever. In the mid-1980s, she moved from the United Kingdom to the CDC in Atlanta, where she stayed for eight years, first in the Special Pathogens Laboratory. Her responsibilities included primate studies of pathophysiology, vaccine evaluation, clinical and epidemiological advice for the United States and other countries, and supervision of the Sierra Leone Lassa Fever Research Unit. She was a member of the team responsible for opening and operating the newest biosafety level 4 (BSL4 – the highest level of containment, used for the most dangerous viruses such as Ebola and Lassa) laboratory at CDC. In 1993, she became Research Professor and supervisor of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Aga Khan University in Pakistan. In 1997, Dr. Fisher-Hoch took charge of the design, construction, and scientific program of a new BSL4 laboratory in Lyon, France, which is today the world’s most technologically advanced laboratory for handling dangerous viruses.



    In January 2001, she moved to Brownsville, Texas, to join her husband who was appointed Assistant Dean for the new Brownsville campus of the UT School of Public Health. She is a full professor in the new school, taking particular responsibility for establishing the new laboratory, teaching and setting up studies of diseases important in the border communities. Her research program includes the Hispanic Health Research Center, a study of the genetics of Human Papilloma Virus in Hispanic women in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Mexico, and a study of emerging MDR tuberculosis across the US/Mexico border.




DORES JAY-PANG FREEMAN
  • DORES JAY-PANG FREEMAN, ADN, MA, MPH
  • PRESENTER
  • E-mail: djaypang@southtexascollege.edu
  • Dores Jay-Pang Freeman, ADN, MA, M.P.H., is Director of the Center of Excellence For Health Professions Development at the Nursing & Allied Health Division of South Texas College, McAllen, Texas. Most of her time is dedicated to creating ways to deliver and disseminate information on minority health issues to the healthcare workforce to help reduce health disparities in the United States. Her work on health education and promotion, and prevention programs for minority and migrant populations in the US has received professional recognition from South Texas College, the Healthy People 2010 Projects Award, US-Mexico Border Health Commission Models of Excellence, the Colorado Governor’s Recognition for Prevention Programs, and the Passion for Justice Award from La Puente Homeless Shelter in Colorado.



    She holds an ADN degree from the Escuela Nacional de Enfermeria, Manizales, Colombia, a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, an MA in applied medical anthropology from the University of Memphis, and an MPH in community & behavioral health from the Texas A & M University School of Rural Public Health.



BELINDA REININGER
  • BELINDA REININGER, DRPH
  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR 
  • E-mail: belinda.m.reininger@uth.tmc.edu
  • Belinda Reininger, M.P.H., DrPH, is an assistant professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. Dr. Reininger’s research has focused on ecological approaches to improving health with minority populations, including a special emphasis on capacity building efforts. Dr. Reininger has extensive experience conducting both qualitative and quantitative research, particularly in conducting and analyzing interviews, focus groups and written surveys. She has served as principal investigator for several projects focused on the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities. One such project examined community-based evaluation strategies for health disparities projects; another focused on community engagement strategies around diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. She has also served as principal investigator of a CDC-funded initiative to examine factors influencing the success of community-based initiatives to address teen pregnancy. Dr. Reininger earned her M.P.H. and DrPH degrees and performed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas School of Public Health.




BLANCA I RESTREPO
  • BLANCA I RESTREPO, PHD
  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY 
  • E-mail: blanca.i.restrepo@uth.tmc.edu
  • Blanca I Restrepo, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Regional Campus. She received her Ph.D. from the UTHSCSA in 1994. Dr. Restrepo’s research interests include tuberculosis pathogenesis and immunology, human tuberculosis, and tuberculosis in the Texas-Mexico border population. A major focus of her laboratory’s research is to use immunological and molecular approaches to understand the biological basis of the association between tuberculosis and diabetes.




LAURA E. ROBINSON
  • LAURA E. ROBINSON, DVM, MS
  • PRESENTER
  • E-mail: laura.robinson@dshs.state.tx.us
  • Laura E. Robinson, D.V.M., M.S. has been with the Texas Department of State Health Services in Region 11 (Harlingen) since 1994 as the Regional Zoonosis Control Veterinarian and served as the Regional Coordinator for Public Health Preparedness and Response during 2002 and 2003. She was a Commissioned Officer with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia for two years. There she worked as a public health epidemiologist and focused on viral and rickettsial zoonoses, including rabies.



    Dr. Robinson attended Texas A & M University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science (in Epidemiology) degrees.




BRIAN R. SMITH
  • BRIAN R. SMITH, MD, MPH
  • SALMONELLA, TB, DENGUE, LISTERIA, OBESITY, DIABETES, HEPATITIS C
  • E-mail: brian.smith@dshs.state.tx.us
  • Brian R. Smith, M.D., M.P.H., is the Regional Director of the Texas Department of State Health Services Region 11 in Harlingen. He began with the agency in 1992 as the tuberculosis clinician. In 1998, he was selected to fill the Regional Director position. Dr. Smith received his medical degree in 1976 from University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas Southwestern Medical School. He earned a master’s degree in public health from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio in 1990. After medical training, Dr. Smith directed a hospital in Nigeria, and worked in mobile clinics in Cameroon where he met his future wife, Ruth. Together they worked in public health with the Choctaws in Oklahoma, and in the jungle of northern Guatemala until war required them to return to Oklahoma. He worked seven years with the Cherokees in eastern Oklahoma, where two of his and Ruth’s three children were born.



    Dr. Smith was named "Physician of the Year" winning the UTHSCSA/Kleberg Foundation First Annual President's Excellence Award in 2005 for public health leadership and commitment. He has joint publications near publication with the CDC and the School of Public Health in Brownsville in tuberculosis, polio, and dengue. He has served eight years as civilian lead for Operation Lone Star, a joint effort among county, state and military officials that provides resources, information, and free medical and dental services to Rio Grande Valley citizens.




ADELLA VALDEZ
  • ADELA S. VALDEZ, MD
  • CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
  • E-mail: valdeza@uthscsa.edu
  • Dr. Adela S. Valdez was born and raised in Harlingen, Texas. She received her MD degree from Baylor College of Medicine and finished her residency in the UTHSCSA-McAllen Family Practice Program. She is currently Regional Assistant Dean at the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), a regional campus of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Harlingen, Texas. Dr. Valdez was previously the Director of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC), a state indigent hospital administrator and Medical Director. Dr. Valdez helped initiate the VBMC Family Practice Program and was their first Interim Medical Director from 1995-1996. She also assisted in the establishment of the academic infrastructure in her role as VBMC RAHC Coordinator. In 2000 she completed a one year NYU/NHMA fellowship in Health Disparities with emphasis in cultural competence. From 2001-2005 she was Presiding Officer of the governor appointment State Health Disparities Task Force. In 2004 Dr. Valdez was named the state’s representative to the Agency for Health Research and Quality national conference which focused on best practices and review of the National Health Disparities Report. She has lectured at state health disparities conferences on health disparities, and presented in academic medical centers on Folk Medicine and Mexican American belief systems. She serves on various committees and advisory boards. She has been honored by the Hispanic magazine VISTA, the Texas Board of Health, and the Association of University Women.