John M. Ruiz, PhD, University of Arizona College of Science associate professor of clinical psychology and a member of the Sarver Heart Center, has been appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Dr. Ruiz, who also is a member of the BIO5 Institute, will serve a four-year term.
The Task Force is an independent volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of people nationwide by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services, such as screenings, counseling services or preventive medicines.
“All of his colleagues at the Sarver Heart Center congratulate Dr. Ruiz on this prestigious appointment,” said Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD, director of the Sarver Heart Center and professor of medicine in the College of Medicine – Tucson. “Dr. Ruiz is a valued and highly collaborative member of Sarver Heart Center. His scientific career has been devoted to reducing cardiac and metabolic disease risk and to addressing health disparities in Hispanic/Latino communities. We are certain Dr. Ruiz will share his unique and important perspective to the Task Force panel, which has significant influence over national policy on cardiac disease prevention.”
“I’m deeply honored to have this opportunity to serve on the USPSTF,” said Dr. Ruiz. “The USPSTF is, in many regards, the pinnacle of evidence-based, public health service and a key mechanism in the pursuit of health equity. I look forward to working with the other members and to contributing to the mission of optimal health for all.”
As member of the BIO5 Institute, Dr. Ruiz’s research focuses on biobehavioral mechanisms, such as how social environment, culture, beliefs and other behavioral traits can influence disease biology and disease risk. He was a 2018-2019 recipient of a Sarver Heart Center Investigator Award for his research titled, “Hispanic Ethnicity and Southern Border Proximity as a Moderators of Cardiovascular Risk and Resilience: Ethnicity, Stress, and The Relational Environment Study (ESTRES).”
“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Ruiz to the Task Force,” said Task Force chair Karina W. Davidson, PhD, MASc. “With his knowledge of cardiovascular behavioral medicine and extensive research into racial disparities in preventable diseases, Dr. Ruiz will be a valuable addition to the Task Force, especially as we expand our focus on addressing health inequities.”
Dr. Ruiz is director of health psychology/behavioral medicine training, and diversity, equity and inclusivity in the Department of Psychology. His research focuses on how people's social lives influence their physical health. Dr. Ruiz examines relationships between individual-level psychosocial factors, social behaviors and other important and prevalent health conditions, including atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes and cancer. Dr. Ruiz also is the incoming editor-in-chief of the American Psychological Association journal, Health Psychology.
“Dr. Ruiz is one of the world’s leading experts on the social and psychological factors that impact physical health and wellness. His appointment to this important national Task Force is a unique opportunity to influence policies that will have a meaningful impact on access to healthcare and disease prevention for all individuals. Congratulations on this very prestigious appointment,” said Lee Ryan, PhD, professor and dean, Psychology Department, and associate director, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
A version of this story was originally published by the Sarver Heart Center.