Four external advisors comprise the Program Steering Committee (PSC) along with a representative from the NCI, Peter Ogunbiyi, D.V.M., Ph.D. This committee provides unbiased, rigorous, and expert evaluation of progress, recommendations for improvement, and advice for taking advantage of new objectives. The PSC is involved as needed throughout the year by phone, email, or videoconference.


Robert G. Robinson, MSW, Dr.P.H., PSC Chair, served as Associate Director for Health Equity of the Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until his retirement in 2007.  At CDC, Dr. Robinson developed national programs targeting the needs of Communities of Color, women, blue collar and agricultural workers, gays and lesbians, low income individuals, and youth. Dr. Robinson has served on editorial boards and in volunteer capacities for the American Cancer Society. He is nationally-known for his work to further our understanding of the underpinnings of race, community, and cultural competence. Dr. Robinson has served as the Chair of our PSC, responding to questions and concerns that we have throughout the year, providing guidance in the preparation and implementation of the PSC meeting agenda as well as leading the preparation of the annual PSC summary that accompanies our Progress Report to NCI each year. Dr. Robinson will continue in this role.


Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Ph.D., M.P.H., is in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine, with appointments in Sociology and at the Annenberg School of Communication.  With research in both tobacco and cancer control, she oversees numerous projects as: the PI and Director of the Hispanic/Latino Tobacco Education Partnership; the Co-PI of the Southern California Partnership Program Office of NCI’s Cancer Information Service; the Director of Community Outreach and Education at the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research where she directs outreach and dissemination for the Transdisiciplinary Research Center on Energetics and Cancer; and is a Co-Investigator in the Transdisciplinary Alcohol and Tobacco Use Research Program. Her publication record and reputation as a national and international leader in tobacco control led to receipt of the American Legacy Foundation Community Activism Award for her outstanding achievements in community activism.


John Carethers, M.D., is John G. Searle Professor and Chairman in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. In 2012 Dr. Carethers was elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Carethers’ research interests include and colorectal cancer disparities, familial cancer and polyposis syndromes, mechanisms of tumor progression, tumor genetics, tumor markers, DNA mismatch repair, molecular pathology, and TGF-beta superfamily signaling in cancer progression. He has had experience with the SDSU/UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership as a former pilot grant awardee, former full project awardee, former PI, and member of the Program Steering Committee since 2012.


Juanita L. Merchant, M.D., Ph.D. is a H. Marvin Pollard Professor of Gastrointestinal Sciences in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan, with a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology.  She became a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences in 2008.  Dr. Merchant has a long-standing interest in research and programs for minorities.  The overall goal of her research is to understand the biology of gastric acid secretion in health and disease. Studies in Dr. Merchant’s laboratory are supported by 3 NIH grants focused on understanding the “Transcriptional Control of Gastrin”, a project “Molecular Mechanisms of Gastrointestinal Transformation” derived from the studies on gastrin and directed towards understanding the role of a zinc finger transcription factor in the regulation of cell growth and “Altering Epithelial Cell Differentiation” focused on the role of inflammation in modulating cellular differentiation in the stomach.


Roberto Villarreal, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. is Director of the South Texas Health Research Center, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. His major interest is in health promotion and disease prevention related to the implementation and evaluation of community programs.  His work involves the development of trans-theoretical models that have been applied in cancer prevention, diabetes, and injury prevention and control.  One major interest is the participation of the Hispanic population in prevention and compliance using mass media and community outreach approaches.  Dr. Villarreal has co-authored multiple research publications on cancer prevention, diabetes, Hispanic populations and clinical outcomes and is a member of several NIH scientific review groups, the health literacy project and board member of the FDA.