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Alex Ortega, PhD

Alex Ortega

Professor of Health Policy and Chair
Health Management and Policy, Center for Population Health and Community Impact
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BA, Economics, University of New Mexico; MPH, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Boston University; PhD, Epidemiologic Science, University of Michigan


Alex Ortega, PhD, an epidemiologist, health services researcher, and community health interventionist, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy and Director of the Center for Population Health and Community Impact in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. Prior to his appointment at Drexel, Professor Ortega served on the public health faculties of UCLA, Yale University, and The Ohio State University. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University. At UCLA, he held a variety of leadership positions including the Director of the UCLA Institute for Social Research, Director of the UCLA Center for Population Health and Health Disparities, and Associate Director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. His UCLA health disparities research center was one of only five funded nationally by NHLBI.

Ortega is internationally-recognized for his research and public advocacy in improving the health and well-being of Latino children and families in the United States, especially for those who are undocumented or are otherwise disenfranchised. He has conducted NIH, AHRQ, and foundation-funded research in a variety of sites and contexts, including Puerto Rico, New England, and Southern California. He is best known for his community-engaged research and academic pipeline programs in East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, California, where he and his colleagues worked to transform the food environment in these urban food swamps by using youth-engagement and social justice strategies. He is a recipient of multiple research awards including the Distinguished Nationally-Known Health Professional Award by the Latino Caucus of the American Public Health Association.

Research Interests

  • Latino health
  • Immigrant health
  • Health disparities
  • Health services research
  • Health policy


Alcalá HE, Roby DH, Grande DT, McKenna RM, Ortega AN. Insurance type and access to health care providers and appointments under the Affordable Care Act. Medical Care, in press.

Buehler JW, Snyder RL, Freeman SL, Carson SR, Ortega AN. It's not just insurance: The Affordable Care Act and population health. Public Health Reports, in press.

Ortega AN, McKenna RM, Chen J, Alcalá HE, Langellier BA, Roby DH. Insurance coverage and well-child visits improved for youth under the Affordable Care Act, but Latino youth still lag behind. Academic Pediatrics, 2018;18:35-43.

Ortega AN, McKenna RM, Langellier BA, Alcala HE, Roby DH. Experiences in care by parental citizenship and language use among Latino children in California. Academic Pediatrics, 2018;18:20-25.

Albert SL, Langellier BA, Sharif MZ, Chan-Golston AM, Prelip ML, Garcia RE, Glik DC, Belin TR, Brookmeyer R, Ortega AN. A corner store invention to improve access to fruits and vegetables in two Latino communities. Public Health Nutrition, 2017;20:2249-2259. PMCID: PMC5561521.

Mckenna RM, Alcalá HE, Lê-Scherban F, Roby DH, Ortega AN. The Affordable Care Act reduces hypertension treatment disparities for Mexican-heritage Latinos. Medical Care, 2017;55:654-660.

Kuo AA, Sharif MZ, Albert SL, Glik D, Prelif ML, McCarthy WM, Roberts C, Belin T, Ortega AN. Training the next generation of Latino health researchers: A multi-level, transdisciplinary, community-engaged approach. Health Promotion Practice, 2017;18:497-504. PMCID: PMC5548049.

Alcalá HE, Chen J, Langellier BA, Roby DH,Ortega AN. The impact of the Affordable Care Act on health care access and utilization among Latinos. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 2017;30:52-62.

Ortega AN, Albert SL, Chan-Golston AM, Langellier BA, Glik DC, Belin TR, Garcia RE, Brookmeyer R, Sharif MZ, Prelip ML. Substantial improvements not seen in health behaviors following corner store conversions in two Latino food swamps. BMC Public Health, 2016;16:389. PMCID: PMC4864998.

Chen J, Vargas Bustamante A, Mortensen K, Ortega AN. Racial and ethnic disparities in health care access and utilization under the Affordable Care Act. Medical Care, 2016;54(2):140-146. PMCID: PMC4711386.

For a complete listing, please visit PubMed.