Mercedes Bravo’s research interests and current projects have three common threads:
- An emphasis on policy-relevant research that directly informs disease prevention and management efforts
- The application of statistical and spatial analysis methods, primarily to datasets from administrative and clinical sources (e.g., Medicare claims, electronic health records, detailed birth data), to investigate the effects of environmental and social exposures, and combinations of exposures, on health outcomes
- Promoting health equity through better characterization of disparities in exposures and disparities in health outcomes among underserved, underrepresented, and potentially vulnerable populations.
Dr. Bravo’s current projects include research examining how individual- and neighborhood-level social and environmental exposures across an individual’s life course can affect health and development, and how social and environmental exposures may accrue disproportionately to specific subpopulations, potentially producing health disparities. Dr. Bravo also uses Bayesian and spatial analysis methods to examine racial/ethnic, urban/rural, and socioeconomic disparities in health outcomes, such as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. She is also investigating how social and environmental exposures at the neighborhood level may relate to risk of chronic diseases, including chronic hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
Previously, Dr. Bravo has led research estimating air pollution exposure and associations with cardiovascular and respiratory-related hospitalizations across more than 700 communities in the U.S. She also examined co-location of adverse exposures, including a study of disparities in air pollution exposure, racial residential segregation, and urbanicity that was highlighted in The Atlantic article, “Trump’s EPA Concludes Environmental Racism is Real” (February 2018). Prior to joining RTI, Dr. Bravo worked as a Research Scientist with the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative and the Statistics Department at Rice University in Houston, Texas.