Rupa S. Valdez

Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences and Department of Engineering Systems and Environments, University of Virginia and President, Blue Trunk Foundation

Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people manage health at home and in the community. Her research and teaching focus on underserved populations, including populations that are racial/ethnic minorities, are of low socioeconomic status, or are living with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities.

Her work draws heavily on community engagement and has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), among others. She has testified before Congress on the topic of health equity for the disability community and received the Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society(HFES) for her pioneering work in creating and developing the subdiscipline of patient ergonomics.

Among other appointments, she serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of People with Disabilities, on PCORI’s Patient Engagement Advisory Panel, and as a member ofthe National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) Health Equity Expert Work Group. Dr.Valdez currently serves as an Associate Editor for Ergonomics, the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) Open, and Human Factors in Healthcare. She has previously served on the AHRQ Director’s Roundtable on Patient Safety, as Chair of HFES Internal Affairs Division and in multiple advisory roles for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

She is the founder and president of Blue Trunk Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easier for people with chronic health conditions, disabilities, and age-related conditions to travel. Dr. Valdez is a widely sought after speaker on topics at the intersection of disability justice, health equity, structural oppression, digital health, patient andcommunity engagement, inclusive design and system design for social determinants of health.  She has been quoted in publications ranging from Politico to Teen Vogue. Dr. Valdez herself lives with multiple chronic health conditions and disabilities, which have and continue to influence her research, teaching, and advocacy.

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