Rafael Perez-Escamilla PhD

Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases); Director, Office of Public Health Practice; Director, Global Health Concentration

Research Interests

Breastfeeding; Household food security measurement and outcomes; Maternal HIV and child development; Community health workers; Type 2 diabetes; Community nutrition program design and evaluation; Maternal-child public health nutrition; Health disparities

Current Projects

Impact of diabetes peer counseling on behavioral and metabolic outcomes among Latinos with type 2 diabetes (Randomized Controlled Trial)
Role: PI

Impact of peer counseling on breastfeeding and infant health outcomes among obese Latinas (Randomized Controlled Trial)
Role: PI

Impact of maternal HIV on growth and development of Ghanaian infants (cohort study)
Role: co-PI (PI: Robert Mazur, Iowa State University (on behalf of Grace Marquis, McGill University))

Household food insecurity and domestic violence among pregnant Brazilian women (longitudinal study)
Role: Collaborator (PI: Ana Maria Segall-Correa, University of Campinas, Brazil)

Community nutrition and food security assessment among Liberian refugees in Ghana (cross sectional study)
Role: mentor (PI: Amber Hromi-Fiedler (postdoctoral fellowship))

Gestational weight gain and pregnancy outcomes among obese Latinas (retrospective cohort study)
Role: co-PI (PI: Jack Green, Hartford Hospital)

The Brazilian household food security measurement project: the EBIA initiative (psychometric work based on cross-sectional samples)
Role: Senior leadership (PI: Ana Maria Segall-Correa, University of Campinas, Brazil)

Harmonization of household food security measurement in the Latin America and Caribbean Region: Project ELCSA (psychometric work based on cross-sectional samples)
Role: Senior leadership (with Ana Maria Segall-Correa, University of Campinas, Brazil; Martha Cecilia Alvarez Uribe, University of Antioquia, Colombia, and Hugo Melgar-Quinonez, Ohio State)

Research Summary

My global public health nutrition research program seeks to understand how best to: a) promote breastfeeding and other infant feeding practices; b) measure household food insecurity; c) mitigate the negative impact of household food insecurity on maternal-child physical and mental health outcomes; d) mitigate the negative impact of maternal HIV on child growth and development; d) design community nutrition education programs. My domestic health disparities research program focuses on design and evaluation of community health worker models seeking to improve behavioral (nutrition, physical activity, self-glucose monitoring, medication adherence) mental health (stress reduction) and metabolic outcomes among Latinos with type 2 diabetes.

Extensive Research Description

Rafael Perez-Escamilla is a professor of epidemiology and the director of the office of community health at the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Perez-Escamilla’s global public health nutrition research program seeks to understand how best to promote breastfeeding and to measure household food insecurity. He researches how to mitigate the negative impact of this food insecurity on maternal-child health outcomes and the impact of maternal HIV on child growth and development. Dr. Perez-Escamilla also leads a domestic health disparities research program focused on designing and evaluating community health worker models seeking to improve behavioral and metabolic outcomes among Latinos with type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Perez-Escamilla received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis. He leads the Latin American and Caribbean Household Food Security Scale project. He has published over 100 research articles that have led to improvements in breastfeeding promotion, iron deficiency anemia among infants (by delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord after birth), household food security measurement and community nutrition education programs worldwide. Dr. Perez-Escamilla was a Pan American Health & Education Foundation trustee and was appointed by the U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and Health to serve on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee. He is the chair-elect of the American Society for Nutrition’s International Nutrition Council and the vice-chair for its Minority Affairs Committee.


Selected Publications

  • Pérez-Escamilla R, Curry L, Minhas D, Taylor L, Bradley E. Scaling up of breastfeeding promotion programs in low- and middle-income countries: the "breastfeeding gear" model. Adv Nutr. 2012 Nov 1;3(6):790-800. doi: 10.3945/an.112.002873. Review. PubMed PMID: 23153733; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3648703.
  • Chapman DJ, Morel K, Bermúdez-Millán A, Young S, Damio G, Pérez-Escamilla R. Breastfeeding education and support trial for overweight and obese women: a randomized trial. Pediatrics. 2013 Jan;131(1):e162-70. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0688. Epub 2012 Dec 3. PubMed PMID: 23209111; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3529944.
  • Pérez-Escamilla R. Can experience-based household food security scales help improve food security governance? Glob Food Sec. 2012 Dec 1;1(2):120-125. PubMed PMID: 23795344; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3685197.
  • Garcia J, Hromi-Fiedler A, Mazur RE, Marquis G, Sellen D, Lartey A, Pérez-Escamilla R. Persistent household food insecurity, HIV, and maternal stress in peri-urban Ghana. BMC Public Health. 2013 Mar 11;13:215. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-215. PubMed PMID: 23497026; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3608015.
  • Lartey A, Marquis GS, Mazur R, Perez-Escamilla R, Brakohiapa L, Ampofo W, Sellen D, Adu-Afarwuah S. Maternal HIV is associated with reduced growth in the first year of life among infants in the Eastern region of Ghana: the Research to Improve Infant Nutrition and Growth (RIING) Project. Matern Child Nutr. 2012 Aug 20. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2012.00441.x. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22905700.
  • Pallas SW, Minhas D, Pérez-Escamilla R, Taylor L, Curry L, Bradley EH. Community health workers in low- and middle-income countries: what do we know about scaling up and sustainability? Am J Public Health. 2013 Jul;103(7):e74-82. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301102. Epub 2013 May 16. Review. PubMed PMID: 23678926.

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