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UA Public Health Researchers Named ‘40 Under 40’ Honorees

Heidi L. Pottinger, DrPH, MPH

Heidi L. Pottinger, DrPH, MPH

Celina I. Valencia, DrPH

Celina I. Valencia, DrPH

Sharing similar roots growing up in towns along the Arizona-Mexico border, Heidi L. Pottinger and Celina I. Valencia, both researchers and alumnae of the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, have been named Southern Arizona ‘40 Under 40’ honorees for their impact on the community. 

Heidi L. Pottinger, DrPH, MPH, director of clinical investigations in the department of health promotion sciences, is originally from Nogales, Arizona. She works with Burris “Duke” Duncan, MD, professor emeritus of public health and pediatrics, helping to lead a National Institutes of Health-sponsored multi-site clinical trial to improve motor function and language skills in young children with cerebral palsy and other interventions to support families of children with special health or medical needs. 

Dr. Pottinger is chair of the research and evaluation committee for Integrative Touch for Kids (ITK) and focused her doctoral dissertation on evaluating the impact of ITK’s Hospital Heroes program at Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson at Banner – University of Arizona Medical Center – Tucson. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Sonora Border Projects for Inclusion (ARSOBO).

Throughout her academic career Dr. Pottinger has focused on pre-clinical development of vaccines, small molecule drugs and immunomodulators, in addition to various clinical research efforts related to meaningful use, orthopaedics, biomechanics of human movement, over 40 neuromuscular diseases, understanding personal belief exemptions from childhood vaccinations in high-exemption regions, and studies to improve the lives of families who have children with developmental disabilities and/or who are hospitalized.

Her past leadership roles include National Director of Clinical Research for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and former board member of Learning, Understanding and Cultivating Health Advocacy (LUCHA), a UA student organization providing service opportunities that cultivate awareness for border health and human rights issues in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

A double alumna of the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health, Dr. Pottinger graduated in 2017 with a Doctor of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health. She received her Master of Public Health in Global Family and Child Health in 2013. She has a Master of Arts in Biomedical & Health Ethics and a BS in Plant Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Arizona State University.

Celina I. Valencia, DrPH, is a postdoctoral research associate with the Division of Public Health Practice and Translational Science at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health – Phoenix campus. The experiences of being a native of Ambos Nogales on the rural Arizona-Mexico border was instrumental in shaping Dr. Valencia’s focus to promote health equity among Latinos via culturally driven strategies.

Dr. Valencia is a Clinton Foundation Global Initiatives Fellow in Public Health and Infectious Disease. A recipient of the Clinton Foundation Innovation Award, Dr. Valencia is conducting an exploratory study on the use of technology in public health interventions among migrant Latinos to encourage positive health outcomes.

Dr. Valencia works with Cecilia Rosales, MD, MS, associate dean of the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health – Phoenix, and the Juntos Por La Salud (Together For Health) Primary Prevention Mobile Unit to promote health equity across Arizona. The Primary Prevention Mobile Unit provides preventative health screenings to underserved and underinsured Latinos in Pima and Maricopa counties. Dr. Valencia received the Pearl Johnson Emerging Advocate Award for her work in this area.

Dr. Valencia is a technical policy advisor to the Mexico Ministry of Health in the Office of Migrant Health and a member of Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnológica (CONACYT - National Council of Science and Technology) Binational Border Health Thematic Research Network. She is also a member of the Global Alliance on Chronic Disease (GACD), the United Nations Association, and the Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Dr. Valencia graduated in from the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health in 2017 with a doctor of public health in public health policy and management.

The 40 under 40 Awards are co-hosted by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and the Arizona Daily Star. Drs. Valencia and Pottinger will be honored at a breakfast celebration on Dec. 5 at the Marriott Star Pass Resort.

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