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Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD

Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences); Director, Office of Public Health Practice; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health; Director, YSPH Global Health Concentration; Director, Maternal and Child Health Promotion (MCHP) Program

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Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD

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Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Ph.D., is Professor of Public Health, and Director of the Office of Public Health Practice, the Global Health Concentration, and the Maternal Child Health Promotion track at the Yale School of Public Health. He is the PI of the Yale-Griffin CDC Prevention Research Center (PRC). His global public health nutrition and food security research program, supported with over $70 million in extramural funds, has contributed to improvements in breastfeeding and other maternal, infant and young child nutrition outcomes, iron deficiency anemia among infants, household food security, and early childhood development. He has co-led innovative mixed-methods implementation studies assessing the impact of community health worker person centered interventions on breastfeeding, type-2 diabetes, post-partum hypertension and mental health outcomes among in vulnerable communities, including people of color in the U.S. He has published over 340 research articles, 3 books/monographs, and numerous journal supplements, book chapters, and technical reports. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (elected in 2019) and served in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Food and Nutrition Board from 2012-18. He has been a senior advisor to maternal-child community nutrition programs as well as household food security measurement projects funded by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the U.S. Agency for International Development, The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH),The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Governments across world regions. He obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and his MS in Food Science and his PhD in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis. His postdoctoral training at UC Davis focused on the link between nutrition and early childhood development.

Education & Training

  • Postdoctoral fellow
    UC Davis (1994)
  • PhD
    University of California at Davis (1991)
  • MS
    University of California at Davis (1985)
  • BS
    Universidad Iberoamericana, Chemical Engineering (1982)


  • Breastfeeding Friendly Country Index (BFCI) project
    Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana; Mexico City, D.F., Mexico 2015
    Breastfeeding Friendly Country Index (BFCI) project
  • Evaluation of UNICEF's Infant & Young Child Counseling Package
    Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria 2014
    Evaluation of UNICEF's Infant & Young Child Counseling Package
  • Harmonization of household food security measurements in Latin America and Caribbean Region
    Brazil; Mexico (2007-2010)
    Senior leadership for Latin American & Caribbean household food security measurement (project ELCSA)
  • Nutrition, food security and human rights
    Rwanda (2004-2010)
    Keynote speaker for annual human rights youth leadership intergenerational forums
  • Brazilian household food security measurement project
    Brazil (2003-2010)
    Senior advisor to Brazilian government national household food security measurement project (EBIA initiative)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Lifetime Achievements Award in Global NutritionAmerican Society for Nutrition2020
Member of the National Academy of MedicineU.S. National Academy of Medicine2019
Doctor Honoris CausaUniversidad de Guadalajara, Mexico2016
Patricia Martens Award for Excellence in Breastfeeding ResearchInternational Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA)2015
2010 & 2015 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory CommitteeAppointed by US Secretaries of Agriculture and Health2008

Professional Service

Women's Health Initiative Scientific Advisory Council (SAC), American Diabetes AssociationCouncil Member2023 - 2025
Newman's Own Foundation, Newman's Own FoundationBoard of Directors2022 - 2025
The 2023 Lancet Series on Breastfeeding, The LancetMember of the steering committee and co-author2020 - 2023
Healthy Eating Research national Advisory Council, Robert Wood Johnson FoundationMember of the National Advisory Committee (NAC)2018 - 2025
Current Developments in Nutrition (Elsevier)Deputy Editor2017 - 2027
Maternal and Child Nutrition journal (Wiley)(co)editor-in-Chief with Victoria Hall Moran2016 - 2026
International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML)President2014 - 2016
Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), Institute of Medicine (IOM)Board Member2013 - 2018
The 2016 Lancet Series on Early Childhood Development, The LancetMember of the Steering Committee and co-author2013 - 2016
2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (DHHS)Committee Member2013 - 2015
American Society for Nutrition Minority Affairs CommitteeMinority Affairs Committee2010 - 2011
SustiNetHealth Disparities & Equity Advisory Committee2010
American Society for Nutrition Global Nutrition CouncilPast-President2010 - 2012
USDA & DHHS2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee2008 - 2010
2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (DHHS)Committee Member2008 - 2010
peer reviewed journalsActa Paediatrica Scandinavica; Am J Clin Nutr; American Journal Obstetrics & Gynecology; American Journal of Public Health, Am J Prev Med; Am J Tropical Med & Hygiene; Annals of Epidemiology; British Journal Nutrition; BMC Public Health; BMC Women’s Health; Bull World Health Organization; Ethnicity & Disease; Current Dev Nutr; Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice; Eur J Clin Nutr; Evaluation & Program Planning; Food & Nutrition Bulletin, Food & Foodways; Health Education & Behavior; Health Policy & Planning; Human Organization; International Breastfeeding Journal, International Journal of Obesity; JAMA Pediatrics; J Am Diet Assoc; J Amer Med Women Assoc; Journal Applied Research on Children; Journal Behavioral Medicine; Journal Developmental Psychobiology; J Environmental Public Health; J Epi Community Health; J of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved; J Health Population and Nutrition; J Human Lactation; J Imm Minority Health; J Nutr; J Nutr Education and Behavior; J Nutrition Health & Aging; J Pediatrics; J Pediatric Gastroenterology Nutrition; J Rural Studies; Lancet; Maternal Child Health Journal; Maternal & Child Nutrition; Mexican J Public Health; Mexican Studies; Nature Reviews: Cardiology; Nutrients; Nutrition Reviews; Panamerican J Public Health; Pediatrics; Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal; Perspectives in Public Health (Royal Society for Public Health); PLOS Medicine; PLOS One; Psychological Review; Public Health Nutrition; Soc Sci Med; Salud Pública de México; Studies in Family Planning1990 - 2023

Departments & Organizations