Yuritzy Gonzalez Peña

Latinos are less likely than their peers to join potentially life-saving clinical trials. They often fear being treated like a guinea pig, are scared of being deported, and don’t trust doctors.
Yuritzy Gonzalez Peña wants to change that.
Peña wants to bust the myths about clinical trials among Latinos, and also boost community health by promoting beneficial policies and improved health systems.
Peña, a native of Salem, Ore., earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in public health from Oregon State University. Because she understands the importance of evidence-based, practical, and multidisciplinary research, she is involved in many research projects.
Her most recent projects have dealt with teen pregnancy in rural communities, chronic risk factors in migrant farm workers, quality rating system, prenatal care, and biofuel energy.
To further her training and education, Peña applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. The program, led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio with support from the National Cancer Institute, recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals each year for a five-day summer institute to promote doctoral degrees and careers in Latino cancer.
“[The Éxito! summer institute] motivated me a lot,” Peña said. “Seeing people like me interested on a PhD reinforce my belief that I can do it. I feel more supported.”