For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Brisa N. Sánchez, PhD

Brisa Sanchez headshot

Dornsife Endowed Professor of Biostatistics and Associate Dean for Research
Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Download CV


BS, Mathematics, University of Texas at El Paso
MS, Statistics, University of Texas at El Paso
ScM, Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
PhD, Biostatistics, Harvard University


Prof. Sánchez is the Associate Dean for Research and Dornsife Endowed Professor of Biostatistics. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Statistics from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a PhD in Biostatistics from Harvard University. In 2006 she joined the Biostatistics Department of the University of Michigan, where she was later named John G. Searle Assistant Professor and was promoted to Full Professor with tenure in 2018. She joined Drexel University in 2019.

Prof. Sánchez is interested in the development and innovative application of statistical methodology to the study of environmental determinants of health, and health disparities. Her methodological research is in the area of latent variable models, correlated data, and study design, all of which is motivated by environmental studies, broadly defined. Sánchez is internationally recognized for her work on latent variable models with environmental health applications.

In addition to her work in environmental health, she has extensive expertise in research involving health disparities and cardiovascular disease, including stroke, as well as the effectiveness of policies geared toward elimination of childhood obesity. She has published numerous peer reviewed articles in leading statistical, epidemiology, and medical journals including JASA, Biometrics and the Journal of Applied Statistics, Statistics in Medicine, Epidemiology, American Journal of Epidemiology, Environmental Health Perspective, JAMA Pediatrics and Health Affairs.

She currently leads methodological research to assess health impacts of neighborhood-level exposures (social and built environment) and their interactions with individual-level factors/exposures through her NIH-funded project "Characterizing health impacts of built environment features using complex data" (R01 HL131610, PI: Sanchez). The goals of the project are to enable data-driven estimation of time and spatial scales at which environmental exposures shape health behaviors and downstream biological outcomes, and characterize the simultaneous impact of multiple, correlated environmental features on health, including social factors.

She co-leads the NIH-funded project "Population-level interventions and community environment effects on child obesity disparities" (R01-HL136718, MPIs: Sanchez-Vaznaugh/Sánchez). This project aims to evaluate how the food environment in schools, regulated through food nutrition policies for schools, impacts child obesity, and how food environment near schools modifies the impact of school nutrition policies on obesity disparities. This project utilizes over 17 million child-level observations collected over more than 15 years. In addition, she is co-Principal investigator of the NSF-funded, mixed-methods project, "Neighborhood Environments as Socio-Techno-bio Systems in Mexico City," which aims to investigate how water infrastructure in neighborhoods shapes and is shaped by residents' trust in water and their health.

She has held multiple leadership roles in research collaborations, research administration, professional organizations, and has served on panels for the National Academies of Science. She served as Director or co-Director of several NIH-funded research centers, and currently also directs the Biostatistics for Social Impact Collaboratory. She is currently Book Reviews Editor for Biometrics, a leading journal in biostatistics, and previously served as Associate Editor for Statistics in Medicine and the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society-C. She is currently Secretary for the Eastern North American Region of the International Biometrics Society, and previously served in multiple positions for the Statistics Section of the American Public Health Association.

Prof. Sánchez is an active proponent of and participant in team science approaches to scientific discoveries, to which she contributes not only her statistical knowledge and expertise but also her knowledge of a variety of research areas and enthusiasm for scientific discovery. Through immersion science content, she is able to marry statistical rigor with practical considerations of the research questions at hand.

Research Interests

  • Statistical Methods Development
  • Big Data
  • Data Integration
  • Health and Place or Built Environment
  • Development of Mixed Methods
  • Health Disparities
  • Spatial Analysis or GIS
  • Environmental Exposures


Baek J, Sánchez BN, Berrocal V, Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV, Distributed Lag Models: Examining Associations between the Built Environment and Health. 2016. Epidemiology (1):116-24. PMID: 26414942 PMCID: PMC5065688.

Sánchez BN, Raghunathan TE, Diez-Roux AV, Zhu YY. Combining data from primary and ancillary surveys to assess the association between neighborhood-level characteristics and health outcomes: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Artherosclerosis. Statistics in Medicine. 2008, 27: 5745-5763.

Baek J, Hirsch JA, Moore K, Tabb LP, Barrientos-Gutierrez T, Lisabeth LD, Diez-Roux AV, Sánchez BN. Statistical Methods to Study Variation in Associations Between Food Store Availability and Body Mass in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Epidemiology. 2017;28(3):403-411.

Baek J, Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV, Sánchez BN. Hierarchical Distributed-Lag Models: Exploring Varying Geographic Scale and Magnitude in Associations Between the Built Environment and Health. Am J Epidemiol. 2016;183(6):583-92.

Sánchez BN, Kang S, Mukherjee B. A latent variable approach to study gene-environment interactions in the presence of multiple correlated exposures. Biometrics. 2012 Jun;68(2):466-76. PubMed PMID: 21955029; NIHMSID: NIHMS677784; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4405908.

Sánchez BN, Kim S, Sammel MD. Estimators for longitudinal latent exposure models: examining measurement model assumptions. Stat Med. 2017. PMID: 28239905 PMCID: PMC5418122.

Sánchez BN, Butdz-Jørgensen E, Ryan LM, Hu H. Structural equation models: a review with applications to environmental epidemiology. Journal of the Am. Stat. Assoc. 2005, 100: 1443-1455.

Zhang Z, O'Neill MS, Sánchez BN. Using a latent variable model with non-constant factor loadings to examine PM2.5 constituents related to secondary inorganic aerosols. 2016. Stat Modelling (2):91-113. PMID: 27528825 PMCID: PMC4982519.

Sánchez BN, Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV, Uskila A, Baek J, Zhang L. Differential associations between the food environment near schools and childhood overweight by race/ethnicity, grade and gender, American Journal of Epidemiology, 175: 1284-1293.

Lisabeth LD, Sánchez BN, Escobar J, Hughes R, Meurer WJ, et al. The food environment in an urban Mexican American community. Health Place. 2010 May;16(3):598-605. PubMed PMID: 20167528; NIHMSID: NIHMS176631; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2838182.

Sánchez BN, Hu H, Litman HJ, Téllez-Rojo MM. Statistical methods to study timing of vulnerability with sparsely sampled data on environmental toxicants. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Mar; 119(3):409-15. PubMed PMID: 21362588; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3060007.

Skolarus LE, Sánchez BN, Morgenstern LB, Garcia NM, Smith MA, et al. Validity of proxies and correction for proxy use when evaluating social determinants of health in stroke patients. Stroke. 2010 Mar;41(3):510-5. PubMed PMID: 20075348; NIHMSID: NIHMS181228; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2838184.

Sánchez BN, Wu M, Raghunathan TE, Diez-Roux AV. Modeling the salivary cortisol profile in population research: the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Nov 15;176(10):918-28. PubMed PMID: 23100245; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3626059.

Goodrich JM, Sánchez BN, Dolinoy DC, Zhang Z, Hernández-Ávila M, et al. Quality control and statistical modeling for environmental epigenetics: a study on in utero lead exposure and DNA methylation at birth. Epigenetics. 2015;10(1):19-30. PubMed PMID: 25580720.

Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV, Sánchez BN, Crawford PB, Egerter S. Association between competitive food and beverage policies in elementary schools and childhood overweight/obesity trends: differences by neighborhood socioeconomic resources. JAMA Pediatr. 2015 May 4;169(5):e150781. PubMed PMID: 25938657.

Rosas LG, Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV, Sánchez BN. Nativity, US Length of Residence, and BMI Among Diverse Asian American Ethnic Groups. J Immigr Minor Health. 2014 Sep 6; PubMed PMID: 25192818.

Morgenstern LB, Smith MA, Sánchez BN, Brown DL, Zahuranec DB, et al. Persistent ischemic stroke disparities despite declining incidence in Mexican Americans. Ann Neurol. 2013 Dec;74(6):778-85. PubMed PMID: 23868398; NIHMSID: NIHMS674162; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4418450.

Lisabeth LD, Sánchez BN, Baek J, Skolarus LE, Smith MA, et al. Neurological, functional, and cognitive stroke outcomes in Mexican Americans. Stroke. 2014 Apr;45(4):1096-101. PubMed PMID: 24627112; NIHMSID: NIHMS563072; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3966956.

co-first authors

For a complete listing, please visit MyBibliography.