Melawhy Garcia

Melawhy Garcia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Science at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the Director of the Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training. She received a B.A. in Psychology and an M.P.H. in Community Health Science from CSULB. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego/ San Diego State University (UCSD/SDSU) Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Behavior Research. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Women’s Cardiovascular Research Center in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD. She has experience with multidisciplinary epidemiological and applied research through her work at the Center for Latino Community Health as well as SDSU’s Institute for Behavioral and Community Health and the South Bay Latino Research Center. Her research program includes a variety of methodological approaches to examine the multidimensional factors that contribute to health disparities among underserved racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations with an emphasis on cardiometabolic health risk factors and diabetes among Hispanics/Latinos. She has received external funding from numerous federal and local agencies to focus on chronic disease prevention, HIV/AIDS prevention, tobacco education and cessation, and student experiential learning programs.

  • 2017: Ph.D. Public Health (Health Behavior Research) University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program
  • 2010: M.P.H. Public Health (Community Health) California State University, Long Beach, Department of Health Science 
  • 2007B.A. Psychology California State University, Long Beach, Department of Psychology 

  • Type 2 diabetes self-management
  • Obesity prevention
  • Use of electronic health records for research and monitoring
  • Tobacco education and cessation
  • Student training and development


Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training

California State, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., SSPA-024, Long Beach, CA 90815, Telephone: (562) 985-5312

The CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training was established in 2005 to support and create diverse community health initiatives that increase access to culturally and linguistically relevant health education, prevention, screening, and treatment.

Our mission is to improve, promote, and advocate for the health and well-being of diverse Latino/Hispanic communities. While we have grown considerably since our official founding, our work continues to improve health, educational, and social equity among the Latino communities with whom we work and serve. Grants funded through myriad governmental agencies and gifts from private donors support our efforts in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, obesity prevention, youth empowerment, nutrition education, perinatal and maternal child health, and Latino educational success.

Center for Latino Community Health 

Affiliated Investigator

Hispanic Community Health Study/ Study of Latinos

San Diego Field Center, South Bay Latino Research Center, San Diego State University

The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) is the most comprehensive study of Hispanic/Latino health and disease in the United States. The primary goals of the HCHS/SOL are to describe: (1) the prevalence of selected chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, COPD, sleep disorders; (2) the risk and/or protective factors associated with these conditions; and (3) the relationship between the initial health profiles and future health events in a cohort of Hispanics and Latinos from diverse heritage groups living in the United States.

Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL)

Elfassy, T., Zeki, A., Hazzouri, A., Cai, J., Baldoni, P.L., Llabre, M.M., PhD; Rundek, T., Raij, L.,  Lash, J.P., Talavera, G.A., Wassertheil‐Smoller, S., Daviglus, M.,  Booth, J.N., Castaneda, S.F., Garcia, M.L., & Schneiderman, N. (In-press) Incidence of Hypertension Among US Hispanics/Latinos: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, 2008 to 2017. Journal of the American Heart Association. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.015031

Perreira, K.M., Abreu, M., Youngblood, M.E., Alvarado, C. Cobo, N., Crespo-Figueroa, M. Garcia, M.L., Giachello, A.L., Pattany, M.S., Talavera, A.C., & Talavera, G.A. (2020) Retaining Hispanics: Lessons from the Hispanic Community Health Study / Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). American Journal of Epidemiology. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwaa003

Garcia, M.L, Crespo, N., Behar, A.I. Talavera, G.A., Campbell, N., Shadron, L., & Elder, J.P. (2020). Examining Hispanic/Latino mothers’ perceptions of their child’s weight: Comparison of silhouette and categorical survey methods. Childhood Obesity, 16(1), 44-52. doi: 10.1089/chi.2019.0015

Garcia, M.L, Castañeda, S.F., Matthew, A. Elder, J.P. & Talavera, G.A. (2019). Correlates of Low-adherence to Oral Hypoglycemic Medications among Hispanic/Latinos with Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 155. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2019.04.007

Castaneda, S.F., Garcia, M.L., Gurrola-Lopez, M., Stoutenberg, M., Emory, K., Daviglus, M.L., Kaplan, R., Giachello, A.L., Molina, K.M., Perreira, K., Youngblood, M.E., Vidot, D.C., & Talavera, G.A. (2019).  Alcohol use, acculturation and socioeconomic status among Hispanic/Latino men and women: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. PLoS ONE, 14(4): e0214906. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214906

Garcia, M., Gatdula, N., Bonilla E., Rios-Ellis, B., Bird, M., Rascon, M. & Frank, G.C. (2019) Engaging Intergenerational Hispanics/Latinos to Examine Factors Influencing Childhood Obesity Using the PRECEDE–PROCEED Model. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 23, 802-810. doi: 10.1007/s10995-018-02696-y

Behar, A.I., Crespo, N.C., Garcia, M., Ayala, G.X., Campbell, N., Shadron, L.M., Elder, J.P. (2018). Validation of a shortened version of the Children’s Eating Behavior Questionnaire and associations with BMI in a clinical sample of Latino children. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior; 50(4); 372-378. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.08.013

McDonough, M., Vargas, M., Nguyen, S.T. Garcia, M., Galvez, G., & Rios-Ellis, B. (2016). Mujer Sana, Familia Fuerte: The effects of a culturally-relevant, community-based, promotores program to increase cervical cancer screening among Latinas. Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved, 26(2), 568-579. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2016.0094

Dr. Garcia’s NCBI Bibliography

  • 2018: Clinical Research Award, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Network of Minority Research Investigators 2017 Annual Meeting, Bethesda, MD
  • 2016: Professional Development and Support for Dissertation and Research Activities Mini Grant Award, Doctoral Incentive Program, California State University System
  • 2016: Student Travel Award, U54 San Diego State University/ University of California San Diego- Cancer Center Collaborative Partnership, Institute of Behavioral and Community Health, San Diego State University
  • 2016: Professional Development Award, Doctoral Incentive Program, California State University System
  • 2014: Hispanic Center of Excellence Scholarship, University of California, San Diego
  • 2010: Dean’s Graduate Honors Award Recipient, College of Health and Human Services, California State University Long Beach.
  • 2010: Health Science Outstanding Graduate Award, Department of Health Science, College of Health and Human Services, California State University, Long Beach

Course Name


Latino Nutrition, Health, and Chronic Disease Prevention

HSC 333

Community Health Science

HSC 401

Health Equity and Health Disparities Research

HSC 407

Community Health Statistics

HSC 403

Applied Concepts of Health Science

HSC 440

Advanced Latino Nutrition and Health

HSC 534

Community Analysis and Program Planning

HSC 624