Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Sc.D., M.P.H


Emma Sánchez-Vaznaugh is a finishing Kellogg Health Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco/Berkeley site within the Center on Social Disparities in Health. She is also an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University, Department of Health Education. She received a doctorate in Social Epidemiology from Harvard University’s School of Public Health, a masters in Public Health from San Francisco State University, and a her bachelors of science degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. Previously, Vaznaugh-Sanchez worked as a teacher, interpreter, journalist, case manager and public health practitioner with immigrant children, adults and seniors in Washington and California states. She worked in a variety of settings, including community non-profit agencies, universities and public health departments.

Research Interests and Projects

Sanchez-Vaznaugh’s research interests include the social, policy and environmental determinants of population health across the lifespan. She devotes particular attention to social inequities across groups defined based on (and in combination with) race/ethnicity, immigrant, and socioeconomic position. She also studies how inequities may be influenced through program interventions and policies, including but not limited to federal, state and local health and social policies. A key area of her research integrates markers of immigrant status into the list of social determinants of health and health inequities. This body of work involves analyzing, documenting and monitoring obesity patterns among diverse immigrants as compared with natives. A recent study investigates disparities in obesity within and between Asian subgroups. This work contributes to the overall literature on immigrant health, and builds upon Sánchez-Vaznaugh’s prior research that examined the influence of birthplace and immigrants’ length of residence in the U.S. on obesity among adults. The study explored whether there was a differential effect of these factors depending upon gender, education and race/ethnicity and then documented the shape, direction and magnitude of socioeconomic patterning in obesity among immigrants compared to natives. Sánchez-Vaznaugh’s research also examines whether macro level policies (i.e. State-level) determine childhood obesity risk, as well as trends in racial/ethnic disparities. One of these studies investigates whether policies that regulate food and beverages in schools – in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the rest of California – influenced childhood overweight trends and population-level trends in racial/ethnic disparities, and whether compliance with California physical education policies is associated with physical fitness and childhood obesity.

Contact Information: emma.sanchez@ucsf.edu


Acevedo-Garcia, D., Sánchez-Vaznaugh E., Viruell-Fuentes, E., Almeida, J.. Integrating social epidemiology into immigrant health research: A cross-national framework. Social Science & Medicine, Volume 75, Issue 12, December 2012, Pages 2060-2068

Sánchez-Vaznaugh, E.V., Sánchez, BN., Baek, J., Crawford, P. “Competitive” Food and Beverage Policies: Are they Influencing Childhood Overweight Trends? (2010) Health Affairs, 29(3): 436-446.

Sánchez-Vaznaugh, E.V., Kawachi, I., Subramanian, SV., Sánchez, BN., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2009) Do socioeconomic gradients in BMI vary by race/ethnicity, gender and birthplace? American Journal of Epidemiology, 169(9):1102-12.

Sánchez-Vaznaugh, E.V., Kawachi, I., Subramanian, SV., Sánchez, BN., Acevedo-Garcia, D. (2009) Differential Effect of Birthplace and Length of Residence on BMI by Education, Gender and Race/Ethnicity. Social Science and Medicine, 67(18): 1300-10.

Finnochio, LJ., Love, MB., Sanchez,E.., (2003) "Illuminating the MPH health educator workforce: results and implications of an employer survey." Health Education and Behavior. Dec; 30(6):683-94.

Clayson Z, Castaneda X, Sánchez, E., Brindis C. “The intersection of culture, health and systems. In: Parteras, promotoras y poetas: Sexual and reproductive health across the Americas. Cernada, G., and Torres, I. (Eds.), University of Massachusetts.

Clayson, Z, Castaneda X. Sanchez, E., Brindis C. (2002) " Unequal Power – Changing Landscapes: The Role of the Evaluator in Latino Communities." American Journal of Evaluation.