Maria Felix-Ortiz

Maria Felix-Ortiz

Maria Felix-Ortiz

My research focuses on drug use epidemiology, treatment, and cultural identity.  With the assistance of a Fogarty grant, I spent a summer in Mexico collaborating with colleagues at Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatria Ramon de la Fuentes Muniz in Mexico City, Mexico's national institute of mental health.  Our research team worked with Dr. Jorge Villatoro and Dr. Maria Elena Medina Mora, Mexico's lead epidemiologists, to conduct a cross-cultural study of drug use among high school students in Los Angeles and Baja California.  We were among the first to pioneer new ways of conceptualizing drug use as a complex, multidetermined behavior that included a consideration of culture and resiliency.  As part of the project, we included and mentored several undergraduate and graduate students, and we connected Mexican researchers with researchers in the US.  The work resulted in a publication and ongoing collaborations.  This summer, Dr. Jorge Villatoro and I co-hosted a virtual summer research internship program including nine UIW students: Three from main campus, three from Bajio, and three from CIW.  We enjoyed the participation of two other faculty members, Dr. Cepeda of University of Southern California, and Dr. Ellen Lee Vaughn of Indiana University. Two students will stay on to continue working with our research team on conference presentations.  I am also a charter/founding member of the National Hispanic Science Network which is an international network of scientists involved in drug abuse research.