Dr. Belinda Reininger has been appointed regional dean of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Brownsville.
Dr. Joseph B. McCormick, the longtime, renowned dean who recruited Dr. Reininger as an assistant professor 18 years ago, stepped down as regional dean at the end of last year, but will remain on the faculty as the James H. Steele, DVM Professor of Epidemiology.
“It has always been our mission to make the Lower Rio Grande Valley the healthiest place in Texas to live,” said Dr. Reininger, professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences. “Good progress has been made, but we’re in no way done. I’m looking forward to exploring new opportunities to help change norms and further improve outcomes. It’s such an honor to work with great faculty, staff, and community partners to achieve this goal. I’m still excited every day to get up and contribute to public health.”
Dr. Reininger cited a high prevalence of obesity, lack of healthy food choices, and physical inactivity as key factors contributing to a multitude of chronic disease conditions, such as diabetes, in the region. Based on Cameron County Hispanic Cohort data, around 30 percent of the population has Type 2 diabetes. By contrast, diabetes affects 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, with 90-95 percent attributable to Type 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Our communities along the U.S.-Mexico border are among the poorest in the country with a high burden of chronic diseases, which we’re working hard to analyze, understand, and address through extensive research and intervention strategies,” Dr. Reininger said. “These are primarily lifestyle diseases, so interventions are needed both in clinics and the communities to support individuals in making healthy choices.”Friday Letter Submission