Martha S. Vela Acosta, MD, MS, PhD

The Kresge Foundation
3215 W. Big Beaver Rd
Troy, MI
USA 48084

Disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Martha Soledad Vela Acosta is a program officer for The Kresge Foundation where she manages the Health Program’s Healthy Environments focus area, which fosters practices that address health inequities among adults and children living in underserved urban and rural areas. Dr. Vela Acosta received her medical degree from the University of Guanajuato’s School of Medicine in Mexico. She obtained her Masters in Environmental Health and Epidemiology, and her Ph.D. in Environmental Health and Industrial Hygiene from Colorado State University. As a family practitioner and as a scientist, Dr. Vela Acosta has been committed to an applied research agenda using prevention programs that improve occupational health disparities for vulnerable populations, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, Hispanic youth, immigrant and Spanish-speaking populations. At The University of Texas, Health Sciences Center at Houston, School of Public Health (Brownsville campus), she taught environmental and occupational health to graduate students, undergraduate students and medical residents where she was recognized with an Outstanding Teaching Award in 2004. Her research about occupational health outcomes includes hearing loss among farmworkers. Her bi-national research has contributed to greater understanding of the differing theories of disease, injury, and health beliefs and perceptions between migrant farmworkers in Colorado and native Mexican (non-migrating) farmworkers from Guanajuato, Mexico. As a co-investigator at the Hispanic Health Research Center in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Vela Acosta’s efforts in community outreach were recognized via the Friends of Public Health Award from the Texas Department of Health Public Health Region 11. In partnership with the University of Berkeley and the University of Texas at Tyler, and funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. Vela Acosta developed and launched the first high school-level occupational health and safety bilingual curriculum for farmworkers in South Texas. This curriculum, the Work Safely-Trabaje con Cuidado, has been implemented for farmworkers attending high school equivalency programs in Southern Texas. At the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Dr. Vela Acosta established and directed the first national multi-disciplinary effort to address adolescent farmworkers: The National Adolescent Farmworker Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Committee. Using a consensus-based research design, she conducted and generated specific recommendations for research, education and programs to improve the conditions for migrant and seasonal adolescent farmworkers. Concluding outcomes led to her authoring a seminal publication, Migrant and Seasonal Hired Adolescent Farmworkers: A Plan to Improve Working Conditions, which has been published and disseminated. As co-project director of the Midwest Center for Agricultural Research, Education and Disease and Injury Prevention (National Farm Medicine Center based in Marshfield, Wisconsin), Dr. Vela Acosta developed geographical information systems for a multistate approach to address agricultural health and safety programs for farmworkers. At The High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (HI-CAHS), Dr. Vela Acosta conducted health and safety hazard assessments and bilingual trainings at diverse industry settings in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region in order to comply with federal (OSHA) regulations. In addition, she was responsible for a variety of industrial hygiene task areas, such as indoor air quality, building safety inspections, lead and asbestos hazard assessments, noise evaluations and control, confined space entries, radiation, hazardous waste site operations, laboratories bio-safety compliance and policy, evaluation of ventilation systems and engineering controls. As a scientist, Dr. Vela Acosta has advanced the occupational health field, using community-based participatory research, and has established multi-disciplinary partnerships among educators, industry, scientists, advocates and policy makers in Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Guanajuato, Mexico, as well as along the Texas-Mexico border.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.