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Brisa N. Sánchez, PhD

Brisa Sanchez headshot

Dornsife Endowed Professor of Biostatistics and Associate Dean for Research
Epidemiology and Biostatistics
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PhD, Biostatistics, Harvard University
ScM, Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
MS, Statistics, University of Texas at El Paso
BS, Mathematics, University of Texas at El Paso


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


Recent Publications:

*Rengifo-Reina H, Barrientos-Gutiérrez T, López-Olmedo N, Sánchez BN, Diez Roux AV (2023). “Frailty in Older Adults and Internal and Forced Migration in Urban Neighborhood Contexts in Colombia,” Int J Public Health; 68:1605379.

*Braverman-Bronstein A, Vidaña-Pérez D, Diez Roux AV, Pérez Ferrer C, Sánchez BN, Barrientos-Gutiérrez T (2023). “Association of service facilities and amenities with adolescent birth rates in Mexican cities,” BMC Public Health;23(1):1321.

Buxton MA, Castillo-Castrejon M, Godines-Enriquez M, Valentín-Cortés M, Morales-Hernández V, de Arellano LM, Sánchez BN, Osornio-Vargas A, O'Neill MS, Vadillo-Ortega F (2023). “The pregnancy research on inflammation, nutrition, & city environment: systematic analyses study (PRINCESA) cohort, 2009-2015”. Eur J Epidemiol;38(9):1009-1018.

Abelson JL, Sánchez BN, Mayer SE, Briggs H, Liberzon I, Rajaram N (2023). “Do diurnal salivary cortisol curves carry meaningful information about the regulatory biology of the HPA axis in healthy humans?”, Psychoneuroendocrinology; 150:106031. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2023.106031.

*Matsuzaki M, Sanchez-Vaznaugh EV, Alexovitz K, Acosta ME, Sánchez BN (2023). “Trends in school-neighbourhood inequalities and youth obesity: Repeated cross-sectional analyses of the public schools in the state of California”, Pediatr Obes;18(3):e12991. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12991.

*Bakhtsiyarava M, Schinasi LH, Sánchez BN, Dronova I, Kephart JL, Ju Y, Gouveia N, Caiaffa WT, O'Neill MS, Yamada G, Arunachalam S, Diez-Roux AV, Rodríguez DA (2023). “Modification of temperature-related human mortality by area-level socioeconomic and demographic characteristics in Latin American cities”, Soc Sci Med; 317:115526. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115526.

Hirsch JA, Michael YL, Moore KA, Melly S, Hughes TM, Hayden K, Luchsinger JA, Jimenez MP, James P, Besser LM, Sánchez B, Diez Roux AV (2022). “Longitudinal neighbourhood determinants with cognitive health and dementia disparities: protocol of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Neighborhoods and Aging prospective cohort study”, BMJ Open; 12(11):e066971. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-066971.

*Avila-Palencia I, Sánchez BN, Rodríguez DA, Perez-Ferrer C, Miranda JJ, Gouveia N, Bilal U, Useche AF, Wilches-Mogollon MA, Moore K, Sarmiento OL, Diez Roux AV (2022). “Health and Environmental Co-Benefits of City Urban Form in Latin America: An Ecological Study”, Sustainability; 14 (22):14715. doi: 10.3390/su142214715.

Braverman-Bronstein A, Vidaña-Pérez D, Ortigoza AF, Baldovino-Chiquillo L, Diez-Canseco F, Maslowsky J, Sánchez BN, Barrientos-Gutiérrez T, Diez Roux AV (2022). “Adolescent birth rates and the urban social environment in 363 Latin American cities”, BMJ Glob Health; 7 (10). doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2022-009737.

Sánchez BN, *Fu H, Matsuzaki M, Sanchez-Vaznaugh E (2022). “Characterizing food environments near schools in California: A latent class approach simultaneously using multiple food outlet types and two spatial scales”, Preventative Medicine Reports; 29:101937. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2022.101937.

*Li J, Peterson A, Auchincloss AH, Hirsch JA, Rodriguez DA, Melly SJ, Moore KA, Diez-Roux AV, Sánchez BN (2022). “Comparing effects of Euclidean buffers and network buffers on associations between built environment and transport walking: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis”, Int J Health Geogr. 17;21(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s12942-022-00310-7.

*Bakhtsiyarava M, Ortigoza A, Sánchez BN, Braverman-Bronstein A, Kephart JL, Rodríguez López S, Rodríguez J, Diez Roux AV (2022). “Ambient temperature and term birthweight in Latin American cities”, Environ International; 167:107412. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107412.

Kephart JL, Sánchez BN, Moore J, Schinasi LH, Bakhtsiyarava M, Ju Y, Gouveia N, Caiaffa WT, Dronova I, Arunachalam S, Diez Roux AV, Rodríguez DA (2022). “City-level impact of extreme temperatures and mortality in Latin America”, Nature Medicine. 28(8):1700-1705. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01872-6.

* Indicates student or trainee with significant mentoring on data analysis

See Dr. Sánchez's complete list of publications on MyBibliography