Two UA Health Sciences Faculty-Physicians Honored for Commitment to the Health of Underserved Communities

Drs. Jessica Moreno and Cecilia Rosales will be honored with the Southern Arizona Chicanos Por La Causa “Cause for Change Award” on June 2 for their dedication to the health of underserved communities.

Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC) will honor Jessica Moreno, MD, and Cecilia Rosales, MD, MS, faculty-physicians at the University of Arizona Health Sciences for their commitment to ensuring that underserved families throughout Southern Arizona receive excellent health care.

The two distinguished honorees will receive the organization’s “Cause for Change Award” for their distinguished careers as leaders in health and education, whose sacrifice and dedication to the community has significant impact today, and on many generations to come. This year’s 36th annual CPLC Southern Arizona Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony will be held at Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment Casino in Tucson on Thursday, June 2, at 6 p.m.

In addition to recognizing outstanding leaders, the Southern Arizona Anniversary Dinner serves as one of CPLC’s largest fundraising events, bringing together community leaders, the public, and private sectors, as well as the business community, to benefit CPLC programs and services

Jessica Moreno, MD, an assistant professor at Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, is a role model, a tireless leader and servant of underprivileged and underrepresented communities. She dedicates most of her time at the University of Arizona, providing health care to the medically uninsured and underserved women of Southern Arizona at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center in Tucson. The prenatal care model she has established includes teaching medical students and residents the art of working in low-resource settings. “It’s the whole reason I went to medical school: to serve the underserved, and motivate others to do the same,” says Dr. Moreno.

Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, Dr. Moreno immigrated with her family to the United States at an early age. Growing up in California, she witnessed the plight of underprivileged immigrant communities, often avoiding contact with official entities, including those providing healthcare, for fear of deportation or because of financial, language and cultural barriers. Motivated by these struggles, she became the first in her family to attend college and later medical school. She never forgot her community. 

Nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Dr. Moreno is widely respected throughout UA Health Sciences for her work in community outreach programs in Southern Arizona, and for her efforts to train health care providers locally and globally in Central and South America. Bilingual, and fluent in both written and spoken Spanish, her international health-care work includes working in Belize, Guatemala and Peru, as well as in Oaxaca and Veracruz, Mexico, collaborating with community health organizations and training local providers to create grass-roots sustainable models to reduce the burden of disease of cervical cancer in remote communities. Research and prevention activities also have included exploring the efficacy of breast and cervical cancer screening strategies along the U.S.-Mexico border, in Nogales and in Yuma, Ariz. Passionate and dedicated, Dr. Moreno says, "My focus is on serving the underprivileged and one of the reasons I love teaching is I can expose the next generation of physicians to the plight of the underserved. I've had wonderful opportunities and it's immensely fulfilling to serve others, but what I'd like to be remembered for the most is for being a good mother. I have two children and they are my greatest accomplishments."

Cecilia Rosales, MD, MS, is assistant dean and professor at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health -- Phoenix and a native Tucsonan. Dr. Rosales also was nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by Congressman Grijalva. She is currently collaborating with El Colegio de Sonora and the Secretaria de Salud de Sonora on a National Institutes of Health RO1 grant titled, Tools and practices to decrease cardiovascular disease and complications in the diabetic population of Mexico. The research project aims to test the effectiveness of certain tools and practices to decrease cardiovascular disease and complications from diabetes.

In addition, Dr. Rosales was awarded a grant by the Mexico Section of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission. The project seeks to develop and implement a primary prevention mobile unit to provide access to health services and promote healthy lifestyles to the Latino population in Maricopa County. Dr. Rosales convened and works with a team of interprofessional students and faculty from the UA Health Sciences in Phoenix to provide outreach services to residents who lack access to health services or are underinsured. Only four other cities received similar grants (Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and New York). She also recently was named a member of the Academic Technical Council of the Binational Border Health Network. The network is comprised of experts from 10 border states to improve response to the challenges posed by public health conditions on the U.S.-México border.

Dr. Rosales has demonstrated outstanding expertise and scholarship in the areas of program development and implementation, public health administration and policy and health disparities research related to the Southwest and border region. Her comprehensive understanding of the region has resulted in a unique contribution to the body of knowledge associated with border and Binational Health in general, and strengthening community-based participatory research and collaboration in the Southwest. The U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, the Border Governors and the state health departments in Arizona and Sonora have benefited from her innovative and creative strategies for strengthening the public-health infrastructure in this region.

Dr. Rosales serves as the private sector co-chair of the Health Services Committee of the Arizona-Mexico Commission. Her deep understanding of the context in which the public health infrastructure can be strengthened at the local, state, national and binational level to address the issues of health disparities in this region is combined with her years of experience, along with her passionate commitment to the elimination of health disparities, mentoring of students and encouraging the pursuit of health sciences majors. She has developed a strong academic and community network created through her years of research, practice and service. Dr. Rosales strives to bring and work together with a multidisciplinary and binational cadre of interested parties, including academics, non-profit and governmental officials.

About Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. (CPLC)

Chicanos Por La Causa is a community development corporation (CDC) that provides services in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Since 1969, CPLC has been changing lives by developing self-sufficiency and instilling empowerment in those they serve. Focus areas are economic development, education, housing and social services. CPLC provides a better life through offering business and employment opportunities, ensuring everyone has the solid foundation of an education; providing hope through a pathway of recovery, restoration, and resiliency; and ensuring that a safe, secure, affordable home is available to every individual served. Today, they have 48 programs and services, 820 employees and 60 offices, making CPLC the third-largest Hispanic non-profit in the nation and the No. 1 charity in Arizona. For more information, please visit www.CPLC.org

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: http://uahs.arizona.edu